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Girlhood Lost

girls-report.jpg The American Psychological Association this week issued a Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. According to the report, women younger and younger are being bombarded by images, music, and other entertainment, which promote the idea of looking and acting sexy. In short, girlhood is giving way to womanhood earlier, little girls are seeing themselves as sexual beings earlier, and they are developing psychological disorders because of this trend.

It’s not news that girls are being encouraged through mass media to look and act more adult and sexy. It is also well known that this type of constant exposure increases the risk of girls developing low self-esteem, eating disorders, and depression. But the report is alarming because it asserts that girlhood is being cut short dramatically, and that girls are starting to think of themselves as sexual beings as early as 6 years old. It’s one thing to depict children acting as adults, but there has to be a limit, which I think was surpassed long before this became the norm:

Ten-year-old girls can slide their low-cut jeans over "eye-candy" panties. French maid costumes, garter belt included, are available in preteen sizes. Barbie now comes in a "bling-bling" style, replete with halter top and go-go boots. And it's not unusual for girls under 12 to sing, "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" (Washington Post, Feb. 20 2007)

Report on the APA Taskforce on the Sexualization of Girls , American Psychological Association (PDF download)
"Goodbye to Girlhood," Washington Post, February 20, 2007.


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