Girls today, even very young ones, are being bombarded with the message that they need to be super-skinny to be sexy, says psychologist Sharon Lamb, co-author of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers' Schemes.
It used to be that women would only occasionally see rail-thin models, such as Twiggy, the '60s fashion icon. "But now they see them every day. It's the norm," Lamb says, from ads, catalogs and magazines to popular TV shows such as America's Next Top Model and Project Runway. "They are seeing skinny models over and over again."
On top of that, gaunt images of celebrities such as Nicole Richie and Kate Bosworth are plastered on magazine covers, she says.
What worries Lamb most is that these images are filtering down to girls as young as 9 and 10. Some really sexy clothes are available in children's size 6X, says Lamb, a psychology professor at Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vt. "Girls are being taught very young that thin and sexy is the way they want to be when they grow up, so they'd better start working on that now," she says.
Lamb believes it's fine for girls to want to feel sexy and pretty when they are teenagers, but that shouldn't be their primary focus. "If they are spending all their time choosing the right wardrobe, trying to dance like an MTV backup girl and applying lip gloss, it robs them of other options."
Some girls don't want to participate in sports because they're afraid they'll bulk up. Some won't try to play an instrument such as a trombone because it doesn't fit their image of what a "girly girl" should do, she says.
ok. it's not exactly poetry but I think I got the message across that super sexy models are much more pervasive in girls' worlds today and that, as a body ideal, the image reaches down to even younger girls. I also told the journalist that viewing these images has been associated in dozens of studies with girls' lowered self esteem, poor body image, eating disorders, and depression. Colleagues Sarah Murnen, Janet Hyde, and Monique Ward have all done meta-analyses or literature reviews compiling these studies and showing the results!