GALESBURG, Ill. — Girls as young as 6 years old are already starting to think of themselves as sex objects, a study of elementary school-age children found.
Performed by Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., the study, which was published in the journal “Sex Roles” Monday, gave girls age 6-9 the choice between two paper dolls. One was dressed in tight, revealing, “sexualized” clothes. The other was wearing “non-sexualized ” clothes — defined as a “trendy” outfit that was more covered-up and loose-fitting.
Researchers asked each girl to choose the doll that: 1) looked like herself, 2) looked how she wanted to look, 3) was the popular girl in school and 4) was the girl she wanted to play with.
Calling the outcome of their study “significant” in two categories, researchers found 68 percent of girls said the sexualized doll looked how she wanted to look and 72 percent said the sexualized doll was more popular.
“Girls overwhelmingly chose the sexualized doll over the non-sexualized doll for their ideal self and as popular,” the lead researcher wrote. “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.”
The study was also able to make some inferences about certain traits that might cause a girl to identify more or less with the sexualized doll.
Girls with mothers who are constantly fussing over their appearance were more likely to identify with the sexualized doll. Girls who were enrolled in a dance studio, had maternal instructive T.V. mediation or maternal instructive religiosity were less likely to identify with the sexualized doll.