Sexualization of Girls and Women is a Threat to Mental Health

Back in 2008, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that proliferation of sexual images containing girls and young women in various forms of media had a harming effect on female self-image and development.

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Back in 2007, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that proliferation of sexual images containing girls and young women in various forms of media had a harming effect on female self-image and development. ¹

The forms of media this research covered were television, music videos, magazines, video games, the internet, movies, and even music lyrics. To take things further, the researchers also looked into products that are sold and advertised to women – particularly, young women.

“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,” deduced Dr. Eileen, Chair of the APA Task Force.

It’s been over a decade since this study was first published. Since then, women have not only experienced further sexualization, but have even been further influenced to follow these trends. Throughout today’s article, we’re going to take a look at the issues surrounding female sexualization and what should be done about it.

Mocking Innocence

Feminism by today’s standards is nothing more than a mockery of the true problems women once faced. It’s the glorification of sexual exploitation in the disguise of empowerment.

Many women are told, often by other women, that to take control of one’s self means to take control of their body. Though this holds some truth, it ignores the true powers of a woman. For it insults her ability to take control of her mind and spirit.

The unfortunate truth is media outlets push this agenda as far as possible. Just take a look at the latest music videos, films, or even advertisements. Women are kept to a standard purely based off physical characteristics.

And to take it all a step further, they’re encouraged to at younger and younger ages. For proof of this, you don’t need to look much further than TLC’s hit show Toddlers and Tiaras.

By focusing solely on the body, a woman ignores her true essence. In turn, this leads to a number of psychological damages.

The Battle of Perfection

Obtaining the perfect body in the eye’s of society is a battle more often lost than won. But it seems outlets such as social media ignore this truth purely to promote those who have obtained perfection.

Did you know:

  • Women are more likely than men to develop an eating disorder. In fact, it’s estimated that out of all those who face an eating disorder, at least 85% are women. ²
  • 95% of those struggling with an eating disorder are between the ages of 12 and 25. ³
  • It’s been found that 91% of young women are dissatisfied with their bodies and have attempted dieting for the sake of obtaining the perfect body. This percentage drops as women get older, but remains above 50%. ⁴

When we idolize the sexualization of women, we’re ultimately placing more and more women in a possession where they struggle with mental health.

Unfortunately, these struggles aren’t brought into the limelight the same way beautiful, young models are. And for this reason, there’s a large population of women fighting a silent battle in which they long for perfection.

What Can Women Do?

It’s easy to point fingers at who to blame when talking about this dilemma. The more difficult task is figuring out what women should do in order to beat this battle.

The first step is ultimately to encourage women to empower their minds and spirit rather than their bodies. Though we live in a culture where image seems to have dominance, within our individual communities, it’s value that shines the brightest.

The second step is to put this encouragement into practice.

It’s true that our society tries to shove women sexualization down our throats. But to turn a blind eye to this and focus on one’s mental and spiritual abilities is more empowering than meets the eye.

There’s no step-by-step guide on how to make this all work out. Ultimately, we are each in a position where we must discover the true power of our nature. To experiment with our talents and practice self-love.

If you are currently struggling with an eating disorder, we encourage you to call the National Eating Disorder Association at 1-800-931-2237.

Reference Sources

¹ American Psychological Association: Sexualization of Girls is Linked to Common Mental Health Problems in Girls and Women

² HHS Public Access: Gender Difference in the Prevalence of Eating Disorder Symptoms

³ ANAD: Eating Disorder Statistics

⁴ HHS Public Access: Body Image in Adult Women: Moving Beyond the Younger Years

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