The saying, “kids these days are growing up so fast,” may actually be true with a new study published in the journal Sex Roles, which showed that girls as young as six are wanting to be sexy, especially when faced with images from society and media, who often dictate what girls (and boys) should look like physically.
LiveScience reports that the study was conducted by psychologists at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, who surveyed sixty girls ages 6 to 9, asking questions to assess their self-sexualization.
They showed each girl two dolls, one dressed in “sexy,” tight, revealing clothes, while the other wore trendy, covered-up, loose-fitting clothes.
The researchers asked a series of questions using a different set of dolls each time, and asked them to pick which doll “looked like herself, looked how she wanted to look, was the popular girl in school, she wanted to play with.”
Overall, The Huffington Post reports that the girls picked the “sexy” doll most often. The most significant results were in two categories: 68 percent picked the “sexy” doll for how she wanted to look, and 72 picked it, saying it is more popular than the non-sexy doll.
Christy Starr, the study’s lead researcher, was particularly surprised by the number of 6 to 7-year-olds who chose the sexualized doll as their ideal self. She stated:
“It’s very possible that girls wanted to look like the sexy doll because they believe sexiness leads to popularity, which comes with many social advantages.”
While they looked at the responses, Starr, along with co-author Gail Ferguson, also looked at what factors may be influencing the girls’ responses. One factor was where they were recruited. Most of them were taken from two public schools, but some were taken from a local dance studio.
The girls involved in dance tended to choose the non-sexualized doll more often than the public-school group, showing an already-known fact that being involved in dance and sports is linked to a better body appreciation, as well as higher body image in teen girls and women. They wrote:
“It’s possible that for young girls, dance involvement increased body esteem and created awareness that their bodies can be used for purposes besides looking sexy for others, and thus decreased self-sexualization.”
What do you think of the new study, which shows that girls as young as six are wanting to be sexy?