We’ve just added a new Q&A to our numerous resources on the early sexualization of girls, this one with Sharon Lamb, a practicing psychologist, professor and author of several books on the topic. Significantly, she was a co-author of the influential 2007 American Psychological Association report on the sexualization of girls and women — one that scorchingly criticized the media for creating and peddling unattainable (and in some cases, dangerous) images of females. In this Q&A she describes sexualization as the selling of a sexual ideal to girls that is so narrow that it injures their developing sense of self. She goes on to describe what professionals and parents can do to help girls develop well-rounded, healthy attitudes about themselves.
She discusses boys, as well, saying they ‘hardly realize the power they have over girls,’ and suggesting that they too need safe places to be themselves.
And what does all this have to do with the young people we, at Youth Catalytics, are most concerned about? As social workers, we take the view that our hypersexual culture is creating profound repercussions for disadvantaged girls, who have fewer resources and less support with which to navigate puberty, and fewer chances of help when things go wrong. With last week’s report that girls are now reaching puberty five years earlier than in 1920, it’s time for us to accept that an early, extended and commercially exploited puberty creates new risks, and to quantify exactly what those risks are.
Haven’t seen our own report on this issue? Download it here.