Applying Psychological Science, Benefiting Society

Too Sexy Too Soon: A Mother’s Battle Against the Sexualization of Girls

By Tina Wolridge (PI Communications Staff)

One of the hardest responsibilities of being a parent to a 13 year old girl is explaining the sexualized images of young women that are seen on TV, in skimpy clothing, magazines and sexy videos (the list goes on). It seems like all I do is say, “You can’t watch or wear this.”

I want my daughter to be valued for her mind, for what’s on the inside, and for being a good person. I want her to understand that you don’t need to get your value from your looks alone. This can often feel like an uphill battle for all parents when the media is so saturated with these harmful images.

According to the report of the APA Task Force on Sexualization of Girls, sexualization happens when:

  1. a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  2. a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  3. a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  4. sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

This kind of exposure can harm my daughter and other girls’ self-image and healthy development. The report explores sexualization’s consequences for their mental and physical health and its impact on their development of a healthy sexual self-image.

Exasperated at the world and feeling frustrated after reading the report, I decided to use my role as a member of Public Interest’s staff to produce the video above – “Girls Talk: Sexualization of Girls.”

I invited middle school girls to sit down and share their thoughts about the sexualized images of girls they see all around them and how they feel about the way girls are portrayed today. My goal was to educate them about the term, “sexualization of girls” and hope they could share their experiences with friends. As you can see, the girls had a lot to say to each other and to the companies that perpetuate sexualized images.

This is a tough battle; however, we can educate and empower our girls. We can give them the power to stand and fight the battle.

Here are some tips on what parents can do:

  • Tune in and talk
  • Question choices
  • Speak
  • Understand and educate
  • Encourage, be real, and be a model

Our daughters and future women are on the road to success. Our daughters and girls are listening and we have to keep on discussing this hot topic: Sexualization of Girls.

We want to hear from you! Tell us in the comments:

  • How do you discuss sexualized images of girls in the media with your children?
  • What would you say to the companies and media that perpetuate sexualization of girls?

Tagged as: , , , , ,

Categorised in: Children and Youth, Women and Girls

1 Response »

  1. Being sexy is ok if you choose it! I agree that the sexualization of girls is bad, overdone, and superficial, but the girls in the video seem to be espousing the opinion that all sexuality is bad. If we’re talking about empowerment, let’s empower girls to make their own choices and think about them, even if their choice is to wear make-up and short frilly skirts. They problem is with others sexualizing them- not what the girls are wearing necessarily.

    Like

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Contact

American Psychological Association
Public Interest Directorate
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Phone: (202) 336-6056
Email: publicinterest@apa.org
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