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Girls as Young as Age 6 are Viewing Themselves as Sex Objects

A study published online on July 6 in the journal Sex Role, found that most girls, as little as age 6 are starting to view themselves as sex objects.

Lead researcher Christy Starr said in a Huffington Post interview, "Although the desire to be popular is not uniquely female, the pressure to be sexy in order to be popular is."

Starr and her research advisor, Gail Ferguson, studied factors that influenced the girl’s responses. They found that girls who watched TV and movies and who had mothers that were concerned about their appearance more than once a day were more likely to feel pressure to be viewed as “sexy”.

On the contrary, mothers who used TV and movies to teach their daughters lessons about poor behavior were less likely to have daughters who viewed themselves as sex objects.

Another important factor was the mothers’ religious beliefs. Girls who watched a lot of TV and movies but had a religious mother “may be more likely to model higher body-esteem and communicate values such as modesty," Starr and Ferguson said, which would abate the images they saw in the media.

Starr continued, "Mothers feel so overwhelmed by the sexualizing messages their daughters are receiving from the media that they feel they can do nothing to help."

We understand that many girls perceive themselves as inferior to boys and that many mothers, like the ones described in the article, do not know what to do about this disconcerting fact. Our Keep Her in the Game campaign was designed to draw attention to the pressure young girls face- pressure that leads them to drop out of sports at twice the rate boys do by age 14.

Our research has helped us show that girls who are physically active are more likely to be healthy and confident – and less likely to participate in unhealthy behaviors including smoking, drug use, gang participation, even delinquency and truancy. Girls also perform better academically when they are physically active than when they are sedentary. By getting girls involved in sports at a young age, fewer girls will view themselves as sex objects and they will acquire the confidence through sports that they need to succeed. Learn more about our Keep Her in the Game campaign here: