“Study: Girls As Young As 6 Are Thinking Of Selves As Sex Objects.”
That is the headline from a WBBM-TV headline that I keep re-reading to make sure it says what I think it says.
A majority of the girls aged six to nine surveyed chose a sexy doll for each of the questions they were asked. They were asked to choose between two paper dolls: One that looked like herself, and one that looked how she wanted to look.
Two categories stood out among the results: 68 percent of the girls said the sexy doll looked how she wanted to look, and 72 percent said the sexy doll was more popular than the non-sexy doll.
"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," lead researcher Christy Starr said in a LiveScience.com story.
Starr told LiveScience.com she was particularly surprised at how many six- to seven-year-old girls chose the sexualized doll as their ideal self.
"Although the desire to be popular is not uniquely female, the pressure to be sexy in order to be popular is,” Starr said in the story.
Surprisingly enough, researchers said media consumption alone did not influence girls to pick the sexy doll. Girls who watched a lot of TV/movies and had mothers who focused on looks were more likely to pick the sexy doll.
Parents are children’s first role models. Like puppies, kids repeat the actions of our parents, so reading that these girls chose the sexy doll because of the actions of their mothers isn’t surprising. It’s very sad.
There is this belief that young girls (and women at all ages) are encouraged to be who they want to be — president, a teacher, an astronaut, musician, etc. But what kind of message are they receiving from their own mothers?
As a society, we put so much focus on things like the Barbie doll, claiming this plastic figure has tainted the way we look at women. But over the years, Barbie has proven that women can be strong leaders. There are very few careers Barbie hasn’t tried.
Maybe more of the blame — or focus — belongs on parents who seem to not be teaching children that they should be proud of themselves for whatever they look like.
How do we ever grow as a society when we can’t move past a “Mean Girls” mentality?
Every now and then a company is thrust into the spotlight for promoting a variety of beauty products to young girls. A few years ago, a French lingerie company came under fire for marketing adult-looking bras for 4 to 12-year-old girls.
Of course, shows like “Toddlers & Tiaras” and “Dance Moms” don’t help, either. These programs do nothing but highlight major flaws and insecurities among women who truly believe that sexy bodies and clothing styles are most important.
I can’t help but wonder when enough is enough. At what point do we just let little girls play with Barbie and friends dreaming up all of the creative scenarios she can come up with?
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