Girls as young as six want to look sexy: Study
Girls as young as six years are
already beginning to think of themselves as sex objects, a new
study of elementary school-age children in the US has found.
It has been found in the past that women and teens think of themselves in sexually objectified terms, but the new study published in the journal 'Sex Roles' is the first to identify self-sexualisation in young girls.
In the study, psychologists at Knox College in Galesburg, Illionis, used paper dolls to assess self-sexualisation in six- to nine-year-old girls. Sixty girls were shown two dolls, one dressed in tight and revealing "sexy" clothes and the other wearing a trendy but covered-up, loose outfit.
Using a different set of dolls for each question, the team then asked each girl to choose the doll that: looked like herself, looked how she wanted to look, was the popular girl in school, she wanted to play with.
Across-the-board, girls chose the 'sexy' doll most often.
The results were significant in two categories: About 68 per cent of the girls said the doll looked how she wanted to look, and 72 per cent said she was more popular than the non-sexy doll, LiveScience reported.
"It's very possible that girls wanted to look like the sexy doll because they believe sexiness leads to popularity, which comes with many social advantages," said lead researcher
Christy Starr, who was surprised at how many 6- to 7-year old
girls chose the sexualised doll as their ideal self.
Other studies have found that sexiness boosts popularity among girls but not boys. "Although the desire to be popular is not uniquely female, the pressure to be sexy in order to be popular is," she pointed out.
Starr and her team also looked at factors that influenced the girls' responses. Most of the girls were recruited from two public schools, but a smaller subset was recruited from a local dance studio. The girls in this latter group actually chose the non-sexualised doll more often for each of the four questions than did the public-school group.