Sex Roles

, Volume 67, Issue 7–8, pp 463–476 | Cite as

Sexy Dolls, Sexy Grade-Schoolers? Media & Maternal Influences on Young Girls’ Self-Sexualization

Original Article

Abstract

Concern is often expressed that mass media contribute to the early sexualization of young girls; however, few empirical studies have explored the topic. Using paper dolls, we examined self-sexualization among sixty 6–9 year-old girls from the Midwestern United States; specifically self-identification, preference, and attributions regarding sexualized dress. Based on simultaneous maternal reports, we also investigated potential risk factors (media consumption hours, maternal self-objectification) and potential protective factors (maternal television mediation, maternal religiosity) for young girls’ sexualization. Findings support social cognitive theory/social learning theory and reveal nuanced moderated effects in addition to linear main effects. Girls overwhelmingly chose the sexualized doll over the non-sexualized doll for their ideal self and as popular; however, dance studio enrollment, maternal instructive TV mediation, and maternal religiosity reduced those odds. Surprisingly, the mere quantity of girls’ media consumption (tv and movies) was unrelated to their self-sexualization for the most part; rather, maternal self-objectification and maternal personal religiosity moderated its effects.

Keywords

Sexualization Self-objectification TV mediation Gender roles/Schema Mother-daughter relationship Mass media 

References

  1. Adler, P. A., Kless, S. J., & Adler, P. (1992). Socialization to gender roles: Popularity among elementary school boys and girls. Sociology of Education, 65, 169–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agresti, A. (2007). An introduction to categorical data analysis. Hoboken: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. American Psychological Association, Task force on the Sexualization of Girls. (2007). Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx
  4. Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B. J., Sakamoto, A., …Saleem, M. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western countries. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 151–173. doi:10.1037/a0018251;10.1037/a0018251.supp.
  5. Bandura, A. (1965). Influence of models’ reinforcement contingencies on the acquisition of imitative responses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1, 589–595. doi:10.1037/h0022070.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1963). Imitation of film-mediated aggressive models. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 66, 3–11. doi:10.1037/h0048687.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Behm-Morawitz, E., & Mastro, D. (2009). The effects of the sexualization of female video game characters on gender stereotyping and female self-concept. Sex Roles, 61, 808–823. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9683-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benedikt, R., Wertheim, E. H., & Love, A. (1998). Eating attitudes and weight-loss attempts in female adolescents and their mothers. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27, 43–57. doi:10.1023/A:1022876715005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, J. D., L’Engle, K. L., Pardun, C. J., Guo, G., Kennevy, K., & Jackson, C. (2006). Sexy media matter: Exposure to sexual content in music, movies, television, and magazines predicts Black and White adolescents’ sexual behavior. Pediatrics, 117, 1018–1027. doi:10.1542/peds.2005-1406.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bussey, K., & Bandura, A. (1999). Social cognitive theory of gender development and differentiation. Psychological Review, 106, 676–713. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.106.4.676.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bryant, J., & Rockwell, S. (1994). Effects of massive exposure to sexually oriented prime-time television programming on adolescents' moral judgment. In D. Zillmann, J. Bryant, A. C. Huston (Eds.), Media, children, and the family: Social scientific, psychodynamic, and clinical perspectives (pp. 183–195). Hillsdale, NJ England: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, IncGoogle Scholar
  12. Comstock, G., & Scharrer, E. (2001). The use of television and other film-related media. In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 47–72). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  13. Comstock, G., & Scharrer, E. (2007). Media and the American child. Burlington: Elesvier.Google Scholar
  14. Cooley, E., Toray, T., Wang, M., & Valdez, N. N. (2008). Maternal effects on daughters’ eating pathology and body image. Eating Behaviors, 9, 52–61. doi:10.1016/j.eatbeh.2007.03.001.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cramer, P., & Anderson, G. M. (2003). Ethnic/racial attitudes and self-identification of Black Jamaican and White New England children. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 34, 395–416. doi:10.1177/0022022103034004002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Daniels, E. A. (2009). Sex objects, athletes, and sexy athletes: How media representations of women athletes can impact adolescent girls and college women. Journal of Adolescent Research, 24, 399–422. doi:10.1177/0743558409336748.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Davison, K. K., Earnest, M. B., & Birch, L. L. (2002). Participation in aesthetic sports and girls’ weight concerns at ages 5 and 7 years. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 31, 312–317. doi:10.1002/eat.10043.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dempster, A. P., Laird, N. M., & Rubin, D. B. (1977). Maximum likelihood from incomplete data via the EM algorithm. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society B: Methodological, 39, 1–38.Google Scholar
  19. Dill, K. E., Brown, B. P., & Collins, M. A. (2008). Effects of exposure to sex-stereotyped video game characters on tolerance of sexual harassment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1402–1408. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2008.06.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dollz Mania (2008). Dollz Mania ChaZie Dollmaker. Retrieved from http://dollzmania.net/ChaZieMaker.htm
  21. Donnerstein, E., & Smith, S. (2001). Sex in the media: Theory, influences, and solutions. In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 289–308). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  22. Durham, M. G. (2008). The Lolita effect: Why the media sexualize young girls and what we can do about it. New York: Overlook Hardcover.Google Scholar
  23. Fisher, D., Hill, D., Grube, J., Bersamin, M., Walker, S., & Gruber, E. (2009). Televised sexual content and parental mediation: Influences on adolescent sexuality. Media Psychology, 12, 121–147. doi:10.1080/15213260902849901.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gordon, M. K. (2008). Media contributions to African American girls’ focus on beauty and appearance: Exploring the consequences of sexual objectification. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32, 245–256. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.2008.00433.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grabe, S., & Hyde, J. S. (2009). Body objectification, MTV, and psychological outcomes among female adolescents. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29, 2840–2858. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00552.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hausenblas, H. A., & Downs, D. S. (2001). Comparison of body image between athletes and nonathletes: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 13, 323–339. doi:10.1080/104132001753144437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hill, A., Weaver, C., & Blundell, J. (1990). Dieting concerns of 10-year-old-girls and their mothers. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 29, 346–348. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8260.1990.tb00894.x.Google Scholar
  28. Hoffner, C. (1996). Children’s wishful identification and parasocial interaction with favorite television characters. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 40, 398–402. doi:10.1080/08838159609364360.Google Scholar
  29. Hogan, M. J. (2001). Parents and other adults: Models and monitors of healthy media habits. In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 663–680). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  30. Homan, K., & Boyatzis, C. (2009). Body image in older adults: Links with religion and gender. Journal of Adult Development, 16, 230–238. doi:10.1007/s10804-009-9069-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jeynes, W. H. (2005). A meta-analysis of the relation of parental involvement to urban elementary school student academic achievement. Urban Education, 40, 237–269. doi:10.1177/0042085905274540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kim, K. (2006). Religion, body satisfaction and dieting. Appetite, 46(3), 285–296. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2006.01.006.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Krcmar, M., & Cantor, J. (1997). The role of television advisories and ratings in parent–child discussion of television viewing choices. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 41, 393–411. doi:10.1080/08838159709364415.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kujawski, J., & Bower, T. (1993). Same-sex preferential looking during infancy as a function of abstract representation. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 11, 201–209. doi:10.1111/j.2044-835X.1993.tb00598.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kunkel, D., Cope, K. M., & Colvin, C. (1996). Sexual messages on family hour television: Content and context. Menlo Park: Kaiser Family Foundation.Google Scholar
  36. Kunkel, D., Eyal, K., Finnerty, K., Biely, E., & Donnerstein, E. (2005). Sex on TV 4: A biennial report to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Menlo Park: Kaiser Family Foundation.Google Scholar
  37. Levin, D. E., & Kilbourne, J. (2008). So sexy so soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  38. Levine, M., Smolak, L., Moodey, A., & Shuman, M. (1994). Normative developmental challenges and dieting and eating disturbances in middle school girls. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 15, 11–20. doi:10.1002/1098-108X(199401)15:1<11::AID-EAT2260150103>3.0.CO;2-Q.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lewis, R. N., & Scannell, E. D. (1995). Relationship of body image and creative dance movement. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 81, 155–160. doi:10.2466/pms.1995.81.1.155.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Liss, M., Erchull, M. J., & Ramsey, L. R. (2011). Empowering or oppressing? Development and exploration of the Enjoyment of Sexualization Scale. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37, 55–68. doi:10.1177/0146167210386119.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Mahaney, C., Bradshaw, J., & Whitacre, N. (2007). Fashion and following the savior. Crosswalk.com: The intersection of Faith and Life. Retrieved from http://www.crosswalk.com/spirituallife/women/11535955/page3/
  42. Malamuth, N. M., & Impett, E. A. (2001). Research on sex in the media: What do we know about effects on children and adolescents? In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 269–288). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Manlove, J., Logan, C., Moore, K. A., & Ikramullah, E. (2008). Pathways from family religiosity to adolescent sexual activity and contraceptive use. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 40, 105–117. doi:10.1363/4010508.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McDonough, P. (2009). TV viewing among kids at an eight year high. The Nielsen Company. Retrieved from The Nielson Company website: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/media_entertainment/tv-viewing-among-kids-at-an-eight-year-high/
  45. McKinley, N., & Hyde, J. (1996). The objectified body consciousness scale: Development and validation. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20, 181–215. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1996.tb00467.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Murnen, S. K., Smolak, L., Mills, J. A., & Good, L. (2003). Thin, sexy women and strong, muscular men: Grade-school children’s responses to objectified images of women and men. Sex Roles, 49, 427–437. doi:10.1023/A:1025868320206.Google Scholar
  47. Nathanson, A., Wilson, B., McGee, J., & Sebastian, M. (2002). Counteracting the effects of female stereotypes on television via active mediation. Journal of Communication, 52, 922–937. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.2002.tb02581.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Pardun, C. J., L’Engle, K., & Brown, J. D. (2005). Linking exposure to outcomes: Early adolescents’ consumption of sexual content in six media. Mass Communication & Society, 8, 75–91. doi:10.1207/s15327825mcs0802_1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Parents Television Council (2010). Sexualized teen girls: Tinseltown’s new target: A study on teen female sexualization in prime-time TV (December Special Report). Retrieved from http://www.parentstv.org/FemaleSexualization/Study/Sexualized_Teen_Girls.pdf
  50. Perry, D., & Bussey, K. (1979). The social learning theory of sex differences: Imitation is alive and well. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1699–1712. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.37.10.1699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Peterson, J. L., Moore, K. A., & Furstenberg, F. F. (1991). Television viewing and early initiation of sexual intercourse: Is there a link? Journal of Homosexuality, 21, 93–119.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Reeves, B., & Greenberg, B. S. (1977). Children’s perceptions of television characters. Human Communication Research, 3, 113–127. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2958.1977.tb00510.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rostosky, S., Regnerus, M. D., & Wright, M. (2003). Coital debut: The role of religiosity and sex attitudes in the Add Health Survey. Journal of Sex Research, 40, 358–367. doi:10.1080/00224490209552202.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Schooler, D., Kim, J., & Sorsoli, L. (2006). Setting rules or sitting down: Parental mediation of television consumption and adolescent self-esteem, body image, and sexuality. Sexuality Research & Social Policy: A Journal of the NSRC, 3, 49–62. doi:10.1525/srsp.2006.3.4.49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sieverding, J. A., Adler, N., Witt, S., & Ellen, J. (2005). The influence of parental monitoring on adolescent sexual initiation. Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 159, 724–729. doi:10.1001/archpedi.159.8.724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Swami, V., & Toveé, M. J. (2009). A comparison of actual-ideal weight discrepancy, body appreciation, and media influence between street-dancers and non-dancers. Body Image, 6, 304–307. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2009.07.006.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tenenbaum, H., & Leaper, C. (2002). Are parents’ gender schemas related to their children’s gender-related cognitions? A meta-analysis. Developmental Psychology, 38, 615–630. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.38.4.615.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Valkenburg, P., Krcmar, M., Peeters, A., & Marseille, N. (1999). Developing a scale to assess three styles of television mediation: ‘Instructive mediation,’ ‘restrictive mediation,’ and ‘social coviewing’. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 43, 52–66. doi:10.1080/08838159909364474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ward, L. M. (1995). Talking about sex: Common themes about sexuality in the prime-time television programs children and adolescents view most. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 24, 595–615. doi:10.1007/BF01537058.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Ward, L. M. (2004). Wading through the stereotypes: Positive and negative associations between media use and Black adolescents’ conceptions of self. Developmental Psychology, 40, 284–294. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.40.2.284.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zaleski, E. H., & Schiaffino, K. M. (2000). Religiosity and sexual risk-taking behavior during the transition to college. Journal of Adolescence, 23, 223–227. doi:10.1006/jado.2000.0309.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyKnox CollegeGalesburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyKnox CollegeGalesburgUSA

Personalised recommendations