Clothing firms 'sexualise' pre-teen girls: study

May 09, 2011

Some clothing firms in the United States are marketing sexy garments for pre-teen girls, reinforcing a destructive stereotype of female attractiveness, research released on Monday said.

Girls as young as six are being pitched clothing that highlights their breasts, buttocks or slimness or sends a message of sensuality, the study says.

Researchers led by Sarah Murnen, a professor of psychology at Kenyon College in Ohio, looked at 15 websites of popular clothing stores, ranging from bargain to high-end sectors of the junior US market.

Using 38 , they devised a system to assess the sexiness of various , and used this system to grade 5,666 clothing items.

Clothing was rated according to whether it had only childlike characteristics; revealed or emphasised an intimate body part; or had characteristics that were associated with sexiness.

An example of a "childlike" characteristic would be a top with a butterfly print in pastel colours.

In contrast, a bikini was coded as "revealing" because it exposed the waist and part of the chest. The bikini was considered "emphasising" if, for instance, it outlined each breast with triangular pieces of fabric.

Similarly, highly-decorated back pockets on trousers -- adorned, for instance, with a bird or sequins -- were deemed "emphasising" because they drew attention to the buttocks.

Material that was lingerie-like (such as in slinky red or black fabric) or in leopard or zebra prints was categorised as having characteristics associated with sexiness.

Sixty-nine percent of the clothing assessed in the study had only child-like characteristics.

Four percent had only sexualising characteristics, while 25 percent had both sexualising and childlike characteristics. One percent had neither sexualised nor child-like characteristics.

The researchers said the biggest sexualisation was in clothing sold by "tween," or pre-teen stores, especially Abercrombie Kids, which came under fire in 2002 for selling thong underwear in children's sizes with "wink wink" and "eye candy" printed across the front.

The paper appears in a specialist journal, Sex Roles, published by Germany's Springer publishing house.

Its authors say face escalating demands placed to meet the Western of slimness and sexiness. The pressures of "self-objectification" can lead to body dissatisfaction, depression, low confidence and poor self-esteem.

"The co-occurrence of sexualising and child-like characteristics makes the sexualisation present in girl's covert," it says.

"Confused parents parents might be persuaded to buy the leopard-pink miniskirt if it's bright pink. Clearly, sexiness is still visible beneath the bows or tie-dye colours."

Explore further: Unsolicited job leads may negatively impact mental health

More information: Goodin S et al (2011). "Putting on" sexiness: a content analysis of the presence of sexualizing characteristics in girls' clothing. Sex Roles; DOI:10.1007/s11199-011-9966-8

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User comments : 15

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joefarah
4.6 / 5 (10) May 09, 2011
It's called: The War on The Mind
It's waged by all those who sacrifice the mind of a child for motives of profit and indecency.
Bob_B
2.8 / 5 (5) May 09, 2011
Get used to it. Money rules America. Profit is the only reason to live in America =>Love Profits or leave America!
emsquared
4 / 5 (4) May 09, 2011
You really can't blame the companies, it's the parents responsibility (i.e. the consumers) to demonstrate that there is no market.
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (4) May 09, 2011
Who buys the clothes?
Companies make what people will buy.
Jaeherys
5 / 5 (4) May 09, 2011
None of that makes it right...
Silver_the_Fox
3 / 5 (2) May 09, 2011
Unfortunately, I have to agree with Ryg on this, the companies do indeed make the products, for which there can no excuse for doing so, but the parents and the kids do indeed buy it for themselves. But, as I said, the companies make the things in the first place, if they didn't, then there would be nothing , quote and unquote, sexualising for the parents to buy.

Any Questions?
Silver out.

P.S. Bob B, your ideal is one that mayh just get us all killed in the long run. Would you kill over a hundred innocent people for simple profit? Would you sell someone into slavery, knowing full well that they will be used for sex, for sheer profit? Think on that will you.
poof
not rated yet May 09, 2011
So they devised a system based on the opinions of 38 college kids, is physorg now covering pseudoscience too?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) May 09, 2011
So they devised a system based on the opinions of 38 college kids, is physorg now covering pseudoscience too?

When have they stopped covering pseudoscience?
Silver_the_Fox
1 / 5 (1) May 09, 2011
No need to hack apart the kind hosts who made this forum in the first place dear ryg.
And as for the below comment
So they devised a system based on the opinions of 38 college kids, is physorg now covering pseudoscience too?


It says 38 college students, but it NEVER said how long they have been their.
ArtflDgr
1 / 5 (2) May 13, 2011
no.. the liberated mother who thinks its great, and who lowers the bars for other mothers... and who then dont resist buying the cloths... is what sexualizes the young girls... but really, arent they just following the progressive post modern ideas of Meade and Kinsey as given to us by education and entertainment literature editors?

you want to know why there are no companies selling 20,000 dollar scoops of gold covered cow patties as a desert?

because no one would buy it.

sorry, but socialists have been building trains and things based on the "if you build it they will come" model, and it is not how it works.

if they make it and no one wants it they go out of business.

so there is no way for them to evily do something to people any more than i can become rich by tricking people inot loving my gold covered bull puckies with whip creame
[sadly though there actually is a small market for that kind of thing, but we dont assume they represent the center of the bell curve of desir
Jaeherys
not rated yet May 14, 2011
Our society says it's ok for people to buy those kinds of clothes because they can buy them. Just because there can be a market for something DOES NOT mean it should be produced and that the fault is on the people who buy that product. If our society wasn't so focused on possessions and beauty, the mothers would not feel they had to buy clothes like this for their children.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) May 14, 2011
Our society says it's ok for people to buy those kinds of clothes because they can buy them.

That is not why. Its one of the results of 'society's' attack on morality since the '60s.
SemiNerd
5 / 5 (2) May 14, 2011
Our society says it's ok for people to buy those kinds of clothes because they can buy them.

That is not why. Its one of the results of 'society's' attack on morality since the '60s.

As the parent of 4, I can assure you that there are very few parents that would ever dress their children as sex objects. It isn't about any war on morality, or morality at all. Parents are under pressure, rightly so, that they do not dress their children in such a way that they are made fun of. Shifting standards of what is proper dress count a lot.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) May 14, 2011
Our society says it's ok for people to buy those kinds of clothes because they can buy them.

That is not why. Its one of the results of 'society's' attack on morality since the '60s.

How about society's attack on morality in the 1800's? Women no longer had to wear skirts that fell over the tips of their toes.

How about the attack on morality in the 1600's when overcoats were considered extraneous and stuffy.

Times change, deal with it.
stanfrax
not rated yet May 14, 2011
sick corporations because profits are down this will start to sift into advertizing - turn off your TV and protest