Shock: Sexualizing young girls might have adverse consequences

Three days after America’s most celebrated jailbait emerita flaked out of rehab and shaved her head, the American Psychological Association declares that “empowering” eight-year-olds by dressing them in “Porn Star” t-shirts might not be such a hot idea.

“The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development,” says Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, chair of the APA Task Force. “We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development.”

Research evidence shows that the sexualization of girls negatively affects girls and young women across a variety of health domains:

* Cognitive and Emotional Consequences: Sexualization and objectification undermine a person’s confidence in and comfort with her own body, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety.

* Mental and Physical Health: Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women–eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood.

* Sexual Development: Research suggests that the sexualization of girls has negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.

Singled out for criticism are Bratz dolls, which my beloved boss has been railing against for years.

Exit question, WaPo edition: Why does the APA fear child “sexual confidence”?

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