Body image and six year old girls

Here’s some interesting research on ‘self-sexualisation’ in six-year old girls. It investigates the extent to which young girls want to be seen as sexy. The answer is mostly ‘yes’, with a high proportion of the girls linking sexiness with popularity. However, the study included one group of girls drawn from a local dance studio, who were much less likely than the others (drawn from schools) to want to look sexy and think sexy meant popular. This is in line with other research that links involvement in sport with higher bodily self-esteem in young women.

6 thoughts on “Body image and six year old girls

  1. This is orthogonal to the main point of the study, but I think it’s worth noting that “sexy” is automatically identified with “wears skimpy clothing”. There’s plenty of room to be sexy yet still be covered up (“leave something to the imagination”, etc.)

    Of course, this is not to suggest that six-year-old girls should be trading in one variety of “sexy” for another.

  2. Interesting and sad study. Well I’m commenting without seeing much in the way of their design/data, but piggybacking…

    …one of the PI’s cautioned dance may cause problems regarding weight consciousness, even if dancers did _better_ on this test. In my experience that’s a big problem. I was close to someone who danced competitively and I think the weight loss pressure (from parents, from other girls, from media, from the instructor, etc.) ultimately amplified the pressure from the system during high school (also I don’t think she developed normally because of excessive exercise/dieting/shitty dieting). So we need to look not only at the hardships faced by these girls at the time…but how _interventions_ like dance effect them throughout life (this is nitpicky, and I don’t think the PI’s would disagree)

    It goes without saying the ideal situation is one where dance isn’t needed to help (make?) someone feel decent about themselves (not that the PI’s insinuated this). This is really nitpicky…I only comment because I have such a negative (!!!) experience with dance (also probably because I can’t get over myself and have to comment constantly…I hate myself). Also my experience may be peculiar to one dance program…

    FWIW…

  3. Hi DavidRLogan – no, you’re right, I think they mention in the article that there are other problems associated with dance, revealed by other studies.

  4. This is so incredibly sad.

    Six years old? I was born in 1990. In 1st grade, my greatest concern were my juice boxes and my Barney. I would have thought the first girl was in some sort of swimsuit.

    I don’t think I started noticing “sexualization,” until maybe the age of 12. And at the age the hormones are flying, anyway.

    Dance IS a wonderful experience for children and can do wonders for self-esteem and self-expression. I wish it was more affordable for all families, however.

  5. I saw this as well as couldn’t read the whole thing; it makes me sad. I used to babysit a little 3 year old girl who would saunter around her house in these plastic heels and throw tantrums if I wouldn’t let her use my lipstick. Its remarkable how observant little ones are…its the big girls who are perpetuating the problem.

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