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Premature Sexualization Harms Girls

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer A new study by British researchers confirms earlier studies that found the premature sexualization of young girls is harmful to their mental well-being. The study concluded that the pressure on girls to look and act older than their age is creating a “generation under stress.” The study, conducted by Girl Guiding UK and the Mental Health Foundation found that girls today are experiencing record levels of “stress, anxiety and unhappiness.” Premature sexualization and the pressure to grow up too quickly are two key influences in the anxiety felt by girls. “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. Dr. Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation who worked on the study, told LifeSiteNews, "Girls and young women are being forced to grow up at an unnatural pace in a society that we, as adults, have created and it's damaging their emotional well-being." “We are forcing our young people to grow up too quickly and not giving them the spaces and experiences they require to be safe and confident. We are creating a generation under stress.” The study questioned 350 girls aged 10 to 14 and found that two-thirds of those surveyed 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. This latest study supports previous research conducted by the Guides that found girls are especially under pressure to look like the celebrities they see in magazines and on television. Two-thirds of the girls admitted they felt worse about themselves when they saw pictures of models in magazines and on TV. An earlier survey found that the most popular role models cited by the girls include the skeletal super model Kate Moss as well as the ramrod thin Victoria Beckham, a former Spice Girls singer and wife of soccer superstar David Beckham. British singer Amy Winehouse, a crack cocaine addict whose alcohol and self-destructive behaviors have been regular tabloid news since 2007 was also high on the list.  “Young girls today face a new generation of pressures that leave too many suffering stress, anxiety and unhappiness,” said Chief Girl Guide Liz Burnley. “All of us who care about young women have a part to play in helping them find a way through these conflicting demands to build the confidence they need to be themselves.” Last year, a report by the American Psychological Association (APA) recommended the removal of all 'sexualized' images of women in media, calling them harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development. Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, chair of the APA task force that ran the study said, “The consequences of the sexualization 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 sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development.”   © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. http://www.womenofgrace.com  

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