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What harm can sexualization of young girls cause?

According to study by the American Psychological Association, early sexual emphasis or sexualization of girls can undermine a person’s confidence in and comfort with her own body, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety. Early sexualization can also lead to issues with mental and physical health. Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood. Lastly, early sexualization can lead to sexual development issues. Research suggests that the sexualization of girls has negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.
The best paper on this topic is offered by the American Psychological Association (http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx).  The results of this report suggest that the sexualization of young girls can cause harm in myriad ways including a shift in cognitions and schemas about self and world, health and mental health consequences including a greater propensity for low self esteem, depressive symptomatology, and eating disorders, impeding the development of a healthy sexuality, and even impacting longer term decision making- such as educational and career choices. 

The sexualization of young girls in the media has increased the incidence of eating disorders, depression, anxiety, self-injury and other negative consequences. Watch as psychologist Jennifer Hartstein, PsyD, discusses how damaging this trend is. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.