February 21, 2007
Sex Toll on Girls Aged 4
GIRLS as young as four are being mentally damaged by the "sexualisation" of young women in toys and fashion, says a report.
Merchandising and advertising images can lead to eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression, researchers said.
TV, music videos and lyrics, magazines, films, video games and the internet all contribute to the problem, say the American Psychological Association.
The report singled out the hugely popular Bratz dolls - who come dressed in provocative clothes like miniskirts and fishnet stockings - as an example of the sexualisation of girls.
Modern Disney characters such as The Little Mermaid and Pocahontas have more cleavage, fewer clothes and are depicted as "sexier", the APA said.
They also blamed clothing such as miniskirts, plunging necklines, sequinned croptops and thongs aimed at seven to 10-year-olds, some printed with slogans like "wink wink".
Song lyrics by rappers Ludacris and 50 Cent, as well as girl group the Pussycat Dolls, also drew criticism.
Eileen Zurbriggen, of the APA, said: "The consequences of the sexualisation of girls in media today are likely to be a negative influence on girls' healthy development.
Dr Zurbriggen added: "We need to replace all these sexualised images with ones showing girls in positive settings - ones that show the uniqueness and competence of girls.
"The goal should be to deliver messages to all adolescents that lead to healthy sexual development."
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