Sexualization of girls linked to mental health problems


SEXUALIZATION OF GIRLS IS LINKED TO COMMON MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS IN GIRLS AND WOMEN—--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WASHINGTON, DC—A report of the American Psychological Association (APA) released today found evidence that the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls’ self-image and healthy development.

Sexualization was defined by the task force as occurring when a person’s value comes only from her/his sexual appeal or behaviour, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is sexually objectified, e.g., made into a thing for another’s sexual use.

Examples of the sexualization of girls in all forms of media including visual media and other forms of media such as music lyrics abound….

“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, …

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.

According to the task force report, parents can play a major role in contributing to the sexualization of their daughters or can play a protective and educative role. …

“As a society, we need to replace all of these sexualized images with ones showing girls in positive settings—…




My reaction to this type of thing is “Oh, you mean the Catholic Church was right about something ELSE???”


Over twenty years ago,when I was a teenager, feminists used to complain about the fact that women were viewed as one dimensional objects. There is much that I disagree with modern feminist but the goal for women to be praised for more then their ability to make a man desire them sexually was laudable.

Strangely enough we have come to a point in society when it is now considered empowering for young girls to degrade themselves sexually or make themselves into flat caricatures of female sexuality.

What is even more odd is that we need a study to tell us that this is harmful to underage girls. :frowning:


The Catholic Church & Vatican have been saying this since Pope Paul VI. It is so close to what the Church has been saying for 40 yrs, the APA should be sued for plagurism. We just never hear about it because todays media has been turned into Satan’s megaphone.


Yeah, those who actually believe this study or even give it any credit …are the ones who didn’t need a study to tell them that anyway.:shrug:


But can’t something similar be said about men/boys? Television and pop culture glorify the attractive, athletic stereotypes while they continue to ridicule moral, academically inclined males.


I suppose, but I don’t think it is to the same extent as the sexualization of girls. It’s EVERYWHERE…you cannot even go to the mall or a grocery store, because it’s on the magazine racks!!


I agree! I have two boys and I am frustrated that tv tends to undermine my and my husband’s efforts to raise them to be noble, intelligent, compassionate individuals. :frowning:


I have two sons and two daughters. Let me assure you, the stereotyping is as bad for boys as girls.

One day my then 12 year old son came to me and asked if something was wrong with him because he liked to read and write stories. He informed me that he had gathered from tv that he should only like girls and blowing things up.:eek: :frowning: Of course, I assured him that some of the greatest literature was written by men. There is nothing wrong with a guy liking poetry or good books.

TV gives boys the impression that they are stupid and only fit to be Neanderthals with no respect for women or ability to do anything beyond ogle females.

Boys typically grow up to be stronger with more muscle mass then women. A grown man who thinks that it is acceptable to be a shallow masculine stereotype is actually dangerous to those around him.

TV, music, the movies, magazines etc all seem to conspire to work against creating adults of either gender who are intelligent, confident people.

Of course, the thread is about girls, so I apologize about getting off topic.:stuck_out_tongue:


Notice how the article refers to “healthy sexual development” several times. What do they consider to be healthy sexual development? When I was in high school, a large part of that was knowing how to put on a condom.


YA THINK??? :hmmm:

No kidding, Sherlock! :rolleyes:


I suppose you may be right…but I haven’t noticed, because we don’t watch much tv, and my kids don’t really watch any tv (I have 4 boys). So, we really haven’t come across anything like that. But, I do have to say that even without watching any of the sitcoms or tv programs, but the news stations, we still come across the sexualization of girls. Like I said, just walking the mall, it’s all over the store fronts. My boys even commented on how…“gee mom, why is that girl naked?” Everywhere you look, you see it. So I guess you could argue that the sexualization of girls actually contributes to the idea that men can only do one thing and that’s ogle girls…then I guess you might be right. Because it really bothers me, that I can’t even take my boys to the stores without having to have a discussion with them about how women are really suppose to behave.:eek:


It bothers me also and I wonder if the stereotyping of males doesn’t influence the sexualization of females that influences the stereotyping of males…:frowning:

I’ve been trying to convince my hubby to get rid of the tv for years, but I haven’t yet convinced him to do so.


Gee. Ya think?


Not that I remember much from that time period, so I don’t know how valid my opinion is, but don’t you have that flipped? 20 years ago, perhaps women were demeaned and not seen as valuable in the workplace, etc., (which is unacceptable in its own right) but their worth was not reduced to being sexually desirable. Perhaps it was reduced to being a piece of equipment around the house (an attitude which, like I said, is unacceptable and contrary to women’s dignity), but at least women were valued for that much in the popular mindset. Now its as though they aren’t valued for ANYTHING except their bodies as an object of uncommitted male enjoyment.

I think we agree on the problem. That sentence just struck me as slightly missing the original diagnosis of modern feminists.


Ok, I’m a guy, and I don’t want anyone to think that I’m trying to draw attention away from women again to focus on men - but am I wrong to say that when it comes to problems of sexuality and society, is it ever really just a “woman’s issue” vs a “man’s issue”? I think of it more as a “human issue.” For instance, in order for girls to be sexualized and objectified, there has to someone to sexualize and objectify them.

I think this story is tragic and unfortunately reflects a frightening reality (but as mentioned earlier, not all that surprising to Catholics). But it has to do with how we conceive of human relationships, not just ourselves. We can’t even conceive of ourselves apart from our relationships to others. John Paul II, in Mulieris Dignitatem, writes about this in a sense:

“…Moreover, we read that man cannot exist “alone;” he can exist only as a “unity of the two”, and therefore in relation to another human person. It is a question here of a mutual relationship: man to woman and woman to man. Being a person in the image and likeness of God thus also involves existing in a relationship, in relation to the other “I”.”

Long quote, sorry, but worthwhile in this context, I think. Just thought I’d point out that every problem with girls’ perception of themselves is intimately and inherently related to boys’ perception of them. We live in relation to each other at all times, and all problems of sexual immorality and misconception relate equally to both sides of the equation. For every girl who is starving herself to get skinny, there’s a guy who is also screwed up in the head, who won’t date a girl unless she’s a size 2 - because all he looks for is her physical sexual desirability.

Again, not to distract from this problem by making it about men - and certainly in this circumstance the danger is more immediate in terms of physical and mental health for girls… I’m just of the opinion that there’s no solving it unless we make it an issue also of where men fit in - especially because in a certain sense we are the source of the problem.



Don’t mean to hog the board, sorry, but I did want to point to that.

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

This begs a HUGE question. And I personally wonder, if the refusal to address it in terms that might possibly, conceivable “offend” some – by suggesting that limitations on appropriate sexual behavior is beneficial (which is the only suggestion that is worthwhile) – means that this issue simply will not be resolved by our modern, secular media and scientific establishment.

These problems will never get better with a realization and recognition by our society that unfettered sexual “expression,” without regards to marriage or commitment, is just plain bad for you, on all kinds of levels. How long before the APA can no longer ignore the evidence staring them in the face and acknowledges that?


Well, I won’t hold my breath waiting for the big APA study proclaiming that sex before marriage is bad for you.


I think it goes beyond physical intimacy. Even flirting and similar acts can be harmful in multiple ways. There is a perception that it is OK for women to smile and “toss their hair” to get what they want. This form of exploitation cuts multiple ways where it harm the esteem of the person doing the flirting, it toys with the person being flirted with, and it excludes the people who are not willing or able to stoop to that level.

This also harms women who are not cover girls who are self concious and afraid of intimacy with their spouce because they feel unworthy.

I think this problem also contributes to long term issues. Those who get by on their looks eventually get old. Marriages founded on physical relations alone run the risk of growing cold when looks fade. With out a deeper understanding and committment the marriage can falter. People who find early success at work because of their looks may be in for a rude awakening when looks fade and they now have to get by on performance alone.


Many women are not in order these times. Sometimes it looks like modern doctors want women on pill just for the sake of it. Women seem to want the pill even if they aren’t sexually active. The pill affects personalities. Clothes are forced on women - it’s hard to find something normal.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit