American girls are increasingly being fed a steady diet of products and images that pressure them to be sexy. From clothing to cartoons, choreography to commercials, the emphasis on sexuality undercuts parents’ efforts to instill purity in their daughters.
The American Psychological Association (APA) warns that this sexualization of girls is harmful to their self-image and healthy development. “[Girls are] experiencing teen pressures at younger and younger ages. However, they are not able to deal with these issues because their cognitive development is out of sync with their social, emotional and sexual development,” the APA reported.
The proliferation of sexual images also undermines a girl’s confidence in her own body. In fact, research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women – eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the cultural influences bombarding our daughters.
Have you shopped for girls’ clothing lately? Toddlers to teens are inundated with adult fashions. Pop singer Beyonce now has her own clothing line that introduces the red-light district to the school lunchroom.
Popular clothing items among teens include thong underwear and shorts displaying suggestive words across the backside. The abundance of racy clothing emphasizes the message: Dress sexy.
As young girls, most moms probably owned Barbie dolls and enjoyed collecting their clothing and accessories. Mattel today takes style to a new level with the introduction of Black Canary Barbie for adult collectors. Designed as a comic-book character, this doll is dressed in fishnet hose, a leather bikini bottom and a black leather jacket. She’s available in toy stores, right next to Ballerina Barbie. Explain that to your preschooler.