Sexualization Impacts Girls' Health
Special Report - February 22, 2007
Attitudes about sex in popular culture and inappropriate portrayals of sex in the media have a negative impact on girls’ physical and emotional health, according to the results of a new study by the American Psychological Association (APA). The report, prepared by the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls and released on February 19, summarizes evidence from psychological theory, research articles, and clinical experience to show that the sexualization of girls results in numerous social consequences. The term “sexualization” is defined as sexual objectification or believing that self-worth is derived from sexual attractiveness. According to the report, such harmful messages are seen in “virtually every medium,” including prime time television programs and commercials, music videos, and magazines. Evidence exists that these messages affect girls’ ability to “develop healthy sexuality” and make them more prone to “experience body dissatisfaction, depression, and lower self-esteem,” among other consequences. Girls can also be adversely affected when parents, teachers, and peers affirm these ribald messages.
In addition to impacting girls, the report concludes that boys, men, and older women are affected. The study cites several resources indicating that exposure to pornography leads men to regard their partners as less attractive and their relationships as less satisfying. Conversely, adult women come to view the “idealization of youth as the only good and beautiful stage of life.”
The report offers several recommendations to counter the influence of sexualization, including parental involvement in monitoring media content. Religious faith and spiritualism also have a positive impact in causing young people to resist that influence, the report found.
“This report is further evidence of what we’ve known all alongyoung girls who base their self-worth on media stereotypes are doomed to struggle with their appearance, values, happiness, relational stability and sexual concepts,” said Dr. Janice Crouse, Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America. “Parents must replace the poor images conveyed by the media with positive and encouraging messages that their daughters are beautiful and valuable just as God made them.”
Copyright © 2007. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.