February 21, 2007
Girls Being ‘Mentally Damaged’ By Media Sex Images
By WILLIAM TINNING
GIRLS as young as four are being psychologically damaged by the "sexualisation" of young women in toys, fashion, and the media, according to a report.
Merchandising and advertising images can lead to eating disorders, low selfesteem, and depression, US researchers said.
Television, music videos and lyrics, magazines, films, video games, and the internet all contribute to the problem, identified by 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.
Task force chairman Eileen Zurbriggen, a psychology professor at the University of California in Santa Cruz, said: "We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualisation has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development."
Sexualisation was defined as occurring when a person's value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behaviour, or when someone is sexually objectified.
Professor Andrew Hill, professor of medical psychology at Leeds University, told the BBC it was hard to disagree with any of the report's conclusions. "If you look at teenage magazines, it's all about sex. We are a visually absorbed society - our views of people are dominated by how they look, " he said.
"Only 18per cent of children's TV viewing is in their designated viewing time and legislation can't be the answer for everything. One of the key things here is social responsibility - advertisers and other media need to be aware that the products they produce and images associated with them have an impact and it's not always a good impact."
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