Did you see the new ad for Beyoncé's Deréon Girls Collection? Little girls, for lack of a better phrase, "tarted up" in adult-ish cropped and embellished jean jackets, purses, lip gloss and blush. Oh, yeah, and that one kid is wearing heels. They appear to be adult sized heels that she is just trying on, as kids do, but... Sigh. According to a report (issued last year) by the American Psychological Association, sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development. You're thinking: Duh. And yet. It exists. And persists. Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, chair of the APA Task Force says, "The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real... We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development." Eh, people are just making a big deal out of a photo. Right? Consider this:
The following is from a summary of the APA's study:
Sexualization has a range of negative consequences for young women, the task force finds. For instance, "studies show that when you begin to see yourself as a sex object, it leaves you with fewer cognitive resources to do things like math," Zurbriggen says. Sexualization also can lead to body shame, depression, eating disorders and low self-esteem, the report notes.
Ads like Beyoncé's may be harming little girls' ability to do math. Pair this with the statement (from the same study) that says, "Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood" and you have a recipe for disaster. Some people think it's "cute" when babies have Fendi shoes, when little girls wear shirts that state, "I Left My brain In My Locker" or underwear that blares, "Buy It Now! Tell Dad Later!" or crocheted string bikinis. Some people don't think it's a big deal that 15-year-old Miley Cyrus, icon to children nationwide, appeared positively post-coital on the cover of Vanity Fair. Would these same people allow their children to drink coffee laced with snake venom? Why is something so damaging to a child's health not taken more seriously?
Beyoncé Tarting Up Young Girls Too [Gawker]
Related: Sexualization Of Girls Is Linked To Common Mental Health Problems In Girls And Women [APA]
APA Task Force Report Decries Culture's Sexualization Of Girls [APA]
What Parents Can Do [APA]
Symposium: "The Sexualization of Childhood," (June 13 - 14, Pittsburgh) [Bound, Not Gagged]
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