Original Article

Sex Roles

, Volume 69, Issue 11, pp 571-582

First online:

Low-Cut Shirts and High-Heeled Shoes: Increased Sexualization Across Time in Magazine Depictions of Girls

  • Kaitlin A. GraffAffiliated withKenyon College
  • , Sarah K. MurnenAffiliated withKenyon College Email author 
  • , Anna K. KrauseAffiliated withKenyon College

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Theory and past research predict an increase in the sexualization of girls in United States culture. We used content analysis to examine change in the number of sexualizing characteristics (e.g., low cut shirts, high-heeled shoes) and childlike characteristics (e.g., polka-dot print, Mary-Jane style shoes) present in depictions of girls across time in the magazines Seventeen (N = 1649 images from issues in selected issues from 1971 through 2011) and Girls’ Life (N = 763 images from selected issues from 1994 to 2011). One-way ANOVAS revealed increases in the total number of sexualizing characteristics across time in both magazines. In particular, depictions of low-cut tops and tight fitting clothing increased in both magazines. There was also a decrease in the number of childlike characteristics in Girls’ Life across time. Possible reasons for increased sexualization as well as possible consequences are discussed.

Keywords Sexual objectification Sexy Girls’ magazines