Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sexualizing Girlhood

I don't know if it started with the Barbie dolls or not, but it seems that little girls are looking more and more like 20 something young women every year. Even as women have fought to break the glass ceiling and a woman has a serious chance of being the next President of the US, women are increasingly allowing themselves to be objectified as sex objects.

Blogger and Psychologist Richard Beck reports from the APA meeting in San Francisco some interesting information. He writes:

Later in the symposium, Sharon Lamb, author of the book Packaging Girlhood, spoke of how in the media childhood, particularly girlhood, is becoming sexualized. Girl models in the media are made to look like sexy adults and adult models are often dressed like little girls. The total effect is a sexualizing of childhood and innocence. Much of this can be read by downloading the report from the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. One disturbing trend they found: Apparently thong underwear is being made for young girls. (I think the APA report is very worthy of discussion in our churches.)


And not only is this true, but the color pink has become sexualized -- as it moves from pink to hot pink.

As a parent I don't have to deal with this directly -- I've got a son. But it would seem to me that parents need to step in and say no to those who would sexually objectify their daughters. Yes, we need to get manufacturers to stop -- but it's going to take a bit of parental responsibility as well.

4 comments:

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

As a father of 2 daughters, I DO have to deal with this. Guidance counselors tell me that girls are experiencing sexual pressure at ever younger ages--in some schools, girls as young as 11 are expected to give oral sex to their "boyfriends!" I am told (I have no direct experience of this) that adult women are pressured increasingly to shave their vaginas (making themselves look more like pre-pubescent girls??).

Is it any wonder that child molestation is so rampant?

I lie awake nights worrying.

Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

Michael,

Thank you for this response from the parent of daughters. I can only imagine your feelings.

This morning in the LA Times there's an article about actresses getting thinner and thinner -- Double 0 is a popular size. Such an image can't be healthy for young girls. Even as obesity is an issue so is its opposite.

Pastor David said...

My first child is due in a month. It has always been a fear of mine - because of this sort of info - that I will have a girl. And sure enough, we are expecting a girl. The sexuality-driven marketing directed at little girls is not just suggestive, it is over the top.

Luckily - at least where we are now - there are lots of parents in our small rural community who just "opt out". Even so, I have no doubts that it will be an uphill battle.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Bob, among girls and women (not so much boys and men), the hyper-thin and obesity traps are often related. Many obese girls and women become that way after bouts with anorexia. The body interprets extreme dieting as famine and, afterword, stores up fat as protection against future famine.

And, of course, the back & forth nature of this is hard on the body.

Pre-teen, pre-pubescent girls are supposed to gain a few pounds. The body will redistribute this to breasts and curvacious buttocks when puberty hits. All that should be stressed is healthy diet and moderate exercise.

Instead, impossible standards are placed on girls and those who can't measure up stop trying and become obese quickly. (This is in addition to the fast food, sedentary lifestyles, and other causes of obesity as a national plague.)