Why Do 6-Year-Old Girls Want to Be Sexy?

“No woman is required to build the world by destroying herself.” – Rabbi Sofer

 Most girls as young as 6 are already beginning to think of themselves as sex objects, according to a new study of elementary school-age kids in the Midwest.

Researchers have shown in the past that women and teens think of themselves in sexually objectified terms, but the new study is the first to identify self-sexualization in young girls. The study, published online July 6 in the journal Sex Roles, also identified factors that protect girls from objectifying themselves.

Psychologists at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, used paper dolls to assess self-sexualization in 6- to 9-year-old girls. Sixty girls were shown two dolls, one dressed in tight and revealing “sexy” clothes and the other wearing a trendy but covered-up, loose outfit. Using a different set of dolls for each question, the researchers then asked each girl to choose the doll that: looked like herself, looked how she wanted to look, was the popular girl in school, she wanted to play with.

Across-the-board, girls chose the “sexy” doll most often. The results were significant in two categories: 68 percent of the girls said the doll looked how she wanted to look, and 72 percent said she was more popular than the non-sexy doll.

Recent books like “The Lolita Effect” (Overlook TP, 2008) and “So Sexy So Soon” (Ballantine Books, 2009) have raised concerns that girls are being sexualized at a young age, and Starr said her study is the first to provide empirical evidence for the trend. In 2007, the American Psychological Association sounded the alarm in a report on the sexualization of girls. It documented consequences of self-objectification and sexualization that have been identified in mainly college-age women, ranging from distractibility during mental tasks and eating disorders to reduced condom use and fewer women pursuing careers in math and science. Starr and her colleagues wrote that they expected similar outcomes in younger adolescents and girls.

An APA report, which inspired this new study, cited widespread sexualization of women in popular culture. “In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner … and are objectified,” the APA authors wrote. “These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate.”

The article “Why 6-Year-Old Girls Want To Be Sexy” by Jennifer Abbasi, LiveScience Contributor, was originally posted on http://www.livescience on July 16, 2012. To view this article in its entirety please click on this link: 21609-self-sexualization-young-girls.html

4 thoughts on “Why Do 6-Year-Old Girls Want to Be Sexy?

  1. I am wondering what is meant by sexual, for me I am a women. I differential myself not only by how I think but my physical characteristic. I glorify my difference from men, but I don’t think in term of sex. Like sexual. I think it terms of sex, like gender.

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