THE SEXUALIZATION OF GIRLS: AN UPDATE (2019)

It has been 10 years since the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force released its landmark Sexualization of Girls report. It remains the most downloaded report on the APA website.  A new report — commissioned by Culture Reframed — updates the findings of the APA report and was authored by Dr. Sharon Lamb, professor at University of Massachusetts Boston, and Julie Koven. Lamb was part of the team that wrote the APA report.

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Decades before the #MeToo era, it was no secret that mainstream media and marketing campaigns disproportionately represented adolescent girls and women in sexualized and objectified ways across media genres, including television, movies, video games, music videos, advertisements, and other media.

The problematic attitudes and assumptions that underpin these depictions promote sexism and harm adolescent girls and women, who often internalize these stereotypes.

In 2007, the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls released a report called The Sexualization of Girls. It remains the most downloaded report on the APA website.

Recognizing the importance of this study and the ongoing prevalence of hypersexualized media, Culture Reframed commissioned an update of the report.

The authors found that exposure to hypersexualized media and marketing contribute to the objectification of girls by others, and that it is correlated with girls’:

  • feelings of shame
  • appearance anxiety
  • eating disorders
  • low self-esteem
  • depression and anxiety
  • harmful beliefs about consent

The new report also provides points of intervention for parents, educators, and medical experts. These include:

  • parental limit-setting of internet usage
  • progressive sex education
  • media literacy education
  • social media as a form of activism to fight sexism
  • sex education that focuses on a more holistic understanding of female sexuality
  • sex and relationship education
  • parental monitoring of internet use
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