Little girls in a grown up world: Exposure to sexualized media, internalization of sexualization messages, and body image in 6-9 year-old girls

Body Image. 2016 Sep:18:19-22. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.04.004. Epub 2016 May 26.


Despite widespread public concern about the early sexualization of young girls, as yet there has been little empirical examination of potential negative effects. In the present study a sample of 300 6-9 year-old girls completed individual interviews assessing exposure to sexualized media, internalization of sexualized messages (measured via preference for sexualized clothing), and body image attitudes (body esteem, body dissatisfaction). Exposure to sexualized media was found to be correlated with internalization of sexualization messages, itself correlated with negative body image. The findings provide preliminary evidence that sexualized messages appear to be internalized by very young girls which, in turn, has negative implications for how they feel about their bodies.

Keywords: Body image; Girls; Internalization; Sexualization.

MeSH terms

  • Body Image*
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Media*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*