Wednesday, February 21, 2007

APA Report: Sexualization of Girls in Media is a Problem

The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests that the proliferation of sexual images of girls and young women in the media is harming their self-image and development.

It is surprising that it took the APA until 2007 to come up with this finding. I would have though that this would have been news in 1980. I am curious to know how much money APA spent on this study, and what percentage of my dues contributed to this area. Nevertheless, despite my cynicism, there are a few interesting findings:

  • The report suggests that the volume of sexualized images has increased as more media content exists over a wider range of accessible technologies (,, etc.) leading to increased exposure and pressure on young girls.
  • They also looked at the way products are sold and advertised to young girls.The Task Force described sexualization as: "when a person's value comes only from her/his sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is sexually objectified, e.g., made into a thing for another's sexual use." They looked at people like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera
  • Instead of simply blaming the media, the APA also looked at the attitudes of family members as a source of resilience or harm.
  • The report suggests that the sexualization of girls impedes the healthy development of a girl or young woman in several different areas. For example by undermining her confidence and making her feel dissatisfied with her body, this can result in negative self-image and lead to feelings of shame, anxiety, eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem

I am also curious - is the APA looking at boys as closely as it is looking at girls. Boys make up a multitude of disorders as well. Don't get me wrong - we need to look at girls, but don't stop looking at boys...

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