It turns out constantly telling little girls they can be anything they want in a culture that loves to sexualize them can get pretty confusing!
A new poll created by PerryUndem of 1,000 respondents aged 10 to 19 finds that girls and boys report similar goals when it comes to things like having a career, having children, or naming math or science as their favorite subject, the New York Times reports. But when it comes to how girls feel about their bodies the results did not, unsurprisingly, line up with what boys reported. And it’s truly depressing:
About three-quarters of girls 14 to 19 in the survey said they felt judged as a sexual object or unsafe as a girl. By far, they said society considered physical attractiveness to be the most important female trait — a view that adult women share, surveys have found. Girls were also more likely than boys to say they felt a lot of pressure to put others’ feelings before their own.
About half said they hear boys making sexual comments or jokes about girls daily, including a quarter of girls 10 to 13. One-third of teenage girls have heard these comments from men in their families.
Good god. And when it comes to girls who are black or Latinx, they’re more likely to hear sexual comments from peers.
While it’s not surprising that young girls feel objectified from every angle, what’s curious is that those in this study seem more than aware that the #girlpower messages they’re receiving from society are conflicting or hypocritical. Girls desire to be intelligent, confident, and successful, but know that looking attractive is unfortunately what others value in them.
But here is a bright spot in the research: the survey found that three-quarters of adolescents have heard of the Me Too movement, and that most girls including one-third of boys say that it makes them feel like they can tell someone if they’re harassed or assaulted.