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Both male and female peers have been found to contribute to the sexualization of girls — girls by policing each other to ensure conformance with standards of thinness and sexiness (Eder, 1995; Nichter, 2000) and boys by sexually objectifying and harassing girls.
Finally, at the extreme end, parents, teachers and peers, as well as others (e.g., other family members, coaches, or strangers) sometimes sexually abuse, assault, prostitute or traffic girls, a most destructive form of sexualization.
APA has long been involved in issues related to the impact of media content on children.
In 1994, APA adopted a policy resolution on Violence in Mass Media, which updated and expanded an earlier resolution on televised violence.
Although extensive analyses documenting the sexualization of girls, in particular, have yet to be conducted, individual examples can easily be found.
These include advertisements (e.g., the Skechers “naughty and nice” ad that featured Christina Aguilera dressed as a schoolgirl in pigtails, with her shirt unbuttoned, licking a lollipop), dolls (e.g., Bratz dolls dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings and feather boas), clothing (thongs sized for 7– to 10-year-olds, some printed with slogans such as “wink wink”), and television programs (e.g., a televised fashion show in which adult models in lingerie were presented as young girls).
These resolutions and reports addressed how violent media and advertising affect children and youth, but they did not address sexualization.Journalists, child advocacy organizations, parents and psychologists have argued that the sexualization of girls is a broad and increasing problem and is harmful to girls.The APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls was formed in response to these expressions of public concern.If girls purchase (or ask their parents to purchase) products and clothes designed to make them look physically appealing and sexy, and if they style their identities after the sexy celebrities who populate their cultural landscape, they are, in effect, sexualizing themselves.Girls also sexualize themselves when they think of themselves in objectified terms.
Research documenting the pervasiveness and influence of such products and portrayals is sorely needed.