Six-year-olds aware of sexualised images

Six-year-olds aware of sexualised images

Girls as young as six are recognising sexualised images in the media – suggesting that programs in adolescence to help girls become critically aware of sexualising content may be happening too late, Curtin University research suggests.

Lead researcher Dr Michelle Jongenelis, from Curtin’s School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, said researchers found a marked difference in how Australian girls aged 6-11 responded to images of sexualised and non-sexualised girls.

“The majority of participants described the sexualised girl as trying to look ’cool’, ‘stylish’, and ‘attractive’,” Dr Jongenelis said.

The study found girls are noticing the increased and more explicit sexualisation in the media and their daily lives, and beginning to develop attitudes towards it.

“This is concerning because considerable evidence demonstrates the psychological consequences of sexualisation in women and adolescents in the form of body shame, eating disorders, and depression,” Dr Jongenelis said.

Previous research has found that sexualised women and girls are less likely to be perceived as strong, intelligent, moral, capable, and qualified for high status jobs.

“We need to start educating even younger girls before their attitudes and beliefs become ingrained and resistant to change,” Dr Jongenelis said

You can read more about this study here. Story credit: Curtin University newsroom

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