Sex Roles

, Volume 49, Issue 9–10, pp 427–437 | Cite as

Thin, Sexy Women and Strong, Muscular Men: Grade-School Children's Responses to Objectified Images of Women and Men

  • Sarah K. MurnenEmail author
  • Linda Smolak
  • J. Andrew Mills
  • Lindsey Good


There are data that show that women are objectified in the media, that girls and women experience a high rate of body dissatisfaction and eating problems, and that exposure to objectified media images of women is related to the experience of self-objectification and body shame among women. Media images of women promote a thin, sexy ideal. The objectification of men in the media has increased, perhaps promoting a “drive for muscularity” among boys. In the present study grade-school girls and boys ages 6 through 12 were shown four pictures of objectified images of women and men, respectively, and asked about their responses to the pictures. Although girls and boys responded equally positively to the objectified images of the people of their gender, girls showed a more consistent response to the pictures. Further, there were stronger relationships between girls' responses to the pictures, awareness and internalization of media images, and body esteem. Girls who consistently showed a rejection response to the pictures had higher body esteem than those girls who were uncertain about how to respond to the pictures. It was concluded that, perhaps due to cultural images and cultural pressures, girls more readily develop a consistent response to objectified images of women (than boys do to objectified images of men) that relates to their feelings about their own bodies.

objectification body image media images 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah K. Murnen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Linda Smolak
    • 1
  • J. Andrew Mills
    • 1
  • Lindsey Good
    • 1
  1. 1.Kenyon CollegeGambier

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