A recent study conducted at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois concludes, “ … most girls as young as six years old are already beginning to think of themselves as sex objects.”
The voluminous hours of watching television has taken its toll on girls of all ages and has reached the youngest of females.
But our daughters are not the only ones affected.
Researchers offered more information concerning factors influencing the process of self-sexualization in young girls. While television and media images play a huge role in how young girls grow to view themselves, so too do the attitudes, and behavior of older women, most particularly those of the girls’ mothers.
While the vast majority of the girls in the study—60 between the ages of six and nine—chose of the two paper dolls presented—“ … one wearing revealing clothing and the other wearing stylish, but non-sexualized …” attire, the former, researchers observed another, and perhaps more important and influential factor.
Interaction between the media and having moms who viewed themselves as sex objects … led girls to pick …the dolls …” wearing sexier attire.
Researchers recognized along with this that, “ … girls whose mothers talked with them about the [television] shows they watched and used TV and movies as teaching moments about bad behavior and unrealistic scenarios were less likely to have daughters who said they looked like the sexy doll.”
But what defines sexy?
And why does being or appearing sexy matter?
Conventional wisdom of our culture implies, if not outright states that the sexier a person, or the more sex appeal they possess and exude, the happier and more successful their life.
It sounds crazy, but this is exactly what all the magazine, television and Internet images resound.
Add to this, our tolerance and fascination, and out right applause to the condescending and malicious behaviors committed by television and movie stars, it becomes clear that we in America at least highly value achieving and maintaining celebrity status at whatever cost.
For women and girls the pounds of flesh exacted extend fathoms beneath the skin.
While beauty may be only skin deep, the ability to love and embrace one’s self at face value arises from roots that sit at the center of one’s heart, mind and soul.
My guess is that exploration into the lives of the mothers of young girls who viewed themselves as the sexier doll, would reveal generations of self-loathing, whether the mother, her mother, or her mother’s mother dresses in a revealing and/or sexy manner.
Be they woman or man, female or male–men too struggle with issues of self-objectification–the saddest part of one’s attempt appear sexual, is that one’s actions never ascertain the sought after goal.
Case in point—Marilyn Monroe.
Defined as perhaps the penultimate American sex symbol, the Aphrodite of the modern American culture, this woman died alone and childless, at the age of 36 –years-old.
The American Film Institute lists her as the 6th greatest female star of all time.
And yet we know that emotional and mental instability that gave rise to her physical illnesses, both of which contributed to her inability to show up on set and perform her roles plagued the latter years of her life.
Whatever we may think, about celebrity status, however commercials are shot to portray a world to which the images imply all should or would want to belong, we those of us watching do well to remind ourselves, and share with our daughters, “It is make believe. And as such it can never bring true happiness, if such a state exists, or peace and comfort.”
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