"Premature Sexualisation" Pushing Young Girls into Depression and Self-Harm: New Study
By Hilary White
"Sexual advances from boys, pressure to wear clothes that make them look too old and magazines and websites directly targeting younger girls to lose weight or consider plastic surgery were identified as taking a particular toll," the report says.
The study, commissioned by the Girl Guides and the Mental Health Foundation, questioned 350 Girl Guides aged 10 to 14 and includes detailed interviews with teenaged girls from across the country. Two-thirds of the girls surveyed online feel "anger and sadness" at least some of the time and half find those feelings difficult to manage. A quarter are "often worried," while half find their anxiety hard to handle.
The girls see supportive families and friendship groups as the "most important factor" in dealing with these problems.
44 percent admitted they could name more WAGS (wives and girlfriends of professional footballers) than female politicians. Forty-two percent of the girls surveyed named celebrities as the greatest influence on girls and young women.
Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, chair of the APA task force that ran the study said, "The consequences of the sexualisation of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls' healthy development."
"We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualisation has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development."