When young American women are sexualized by the media, music industry, and advertising industry it results in a lack of self-esteem and the reduced ability to compete with boys their age. According to the American Psychological Association, the bombardment of girls by images of their sexual peers reduces their development of a healthy, non-sexual self-esteem. These girls also get the message that their only value in society is as sexual beings. They feel pressured to be sexual, or to even have no identity at all.
In a video made by the APA, the American Psychological Association, six middle school girls talk about the way young girls are depicted in the media. The young girls are showed images and give their impression on them. The video is important because most of these girls realize that sexy does not equal pretty, and that clothing companies over sexualizing young girls is not okay. One girl says, “Designers that design clothes for little girls, you have to be more aware that the world today is different. There are men out there who are attracted to the clothes y’all make today and y’all should change that.” I think it was important that this young girl addressed the issue of sexy clothing not only bringing down a girl’s self esteem, but saying that these clothes bring more of a risk to them being preyed on. The same girl makes another good point reacting to a photo of a very age inappropriate outfit by saying, “They wear it just to like, fit in, cause like some girls are really insecure about the way they look because I feel like since they wanna wear clothes like that, I don’t think they get enough attention.” This girl touching on self-esteem is very important because to some people, negative attention is still attention. Girls want to draw attention away from their insecurities that are being caused by these trends, by doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing which is ditching the detrimental trends for something they will feel confident in.
There are also many articles being written today that the early sexualization of women by media, advertising, and other money making organizations is on the rise. A task force was formed by the APA because of all the public concern regarding this issue. After looking into it, the task force found that girls can make positive changes to bring back their self-esteem and help them to fix any emotional damage of how they are being treated in the media. But, young girls cannot do this alone. They need the support of their parents to question the messages young girls are exposed to in movies, clothing stores, and in the media and these messages say that a girl’s value is mostly based on how sexually attractive they are.
This message is strengthened when young girls see their older role models constantly being judged on looks rather than accomplishments. In the 2015 presidential debates, there were quite a few comments being made about the attractiveness of the female politicians. Women athletes are sexualized as much as they are respected for their athletic accomplishments. Breaking the cycle of young girls being sexualized could also lead to women being respected for who they are and not always how they look.
Parents and other adults need to help these girls realize that being successful in school, in sports or other activities, helping others, finding a hobby, and hanging out with friends are all good ways to develop self-esteem. Spending less time worrying about clothes, makeup, and how people will respond to the way you look is a good first step for a young girl. This can be very hard for an adolesent girl, because if her self esteem is already shot, she is going to try and grab any attention she can and more likely than not that is going to be by trying to fit in. The “typical popular girl” is always the most sexualized in everything the media portrays them to be. But the real solution is learning to see these sexual messages for what they are which is nothing more than a trap to run out and buy the clothes or the CD. Learning to see the message for what it is and then ignore it is important because young girls will start to realize that if they start engulfing themselves with an obsession of how they look on the outside, they will never be happy with themselves.