One of my relatives living in the USA had a 8-year-old girl. I was shocked when I found out she desperately wanted to look sexy, and more desperately wanted to have a boyfriend. She reached puberty at early age. Her paediatrician said that girls hitting puberty earlier than ever because of hormones in food. I noticed she watched TV non stop and she never listened to her parents.
A new study says, most girls as young as 6 are already beginning to think of themselves as sex-objects.
Another study says, 30% of Girls’ Clothing Is Sexualized in Major Sales Trend.
6-year-old girls chose the sexualized doll as their ideal self. After seeing it, the researchers said, ‘It’s very possible that girls wanted to look like the sexy doll because they believe sexiness leads to popularity, which comes with many social advantages.’ Because of this, girls as young as 6 are already feeling the pressure to be sexy. It is definitely very alarming if little girls feel the pressure to be sexy.
The researchers say:
Media consumption alone didn’t influence girls to prefer the sexy doll. But girls who watched a lot of TV and movies and who had mothers who reported self-objectifying tendencies, such as worrying about their clothes and appearance many times a day, in the study were more likely to say the sexy doll was popular.
Mothers’ religious beliefs also emerged as an important factor in how girls see themselves. Girls who consumed a lot of media but who had religious mothers were protected against self-sexualizing, perhaps because these moms “may be more likely to model higher body-esteem and communicate values such as modesty.
Another interesting finding:
Girls who didn’t consume a lot of media but who had religious mothers were much more likely to say they wanted to look like the sexy doll.This pattern of results may reflect a case of ‘forbidden fruit’ or reactance, whereby young girls who are overprotected from the perceived ills of media by highly religious parents … begin to idealize the forbidden due to their underexposure. It means, low media consumption is not a silver bullet against early self-sexualization in girls.
I believe ‘the proliferation of sexualized images of girls in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls’ self-image and healthy development’. I also believe that ‘parents can play a role to protect girls from the sexualizing culture. They can help their daughters navigate a sexualizing world by instructing their daughters about their values and by not demonstrating objectified and sexualized behaviors themselves.’
I do not think religious mothers can ultimately save their daughters from self-sexualization. Non-religious mothers who want women to live with dignity and rights can do it. The difference between religious and non-religious mothers is, religious mothers believe in patriarchal religion, so obviously they do not believe in women’s equality or women’s freedom. Women who believe in religion believe that women are somehow inferior to men.
Treating yourself as an inferior being is not less dangerous than treating yourself as a sex-object. The two are related.
Parents have no right to snatch the childhood away from their daughters. Children deserve a childhood. But I think it will not always be possible for parents alone to save their girl children from self-sexualization if the sexual objectification of women in the media continues.