Girls in Society

The above video, produced with support from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Vermont, features interviews with 14- and 15-year-old girls who participated in a small ‘photovoice’ project focusing on the pressures they feel to conform to society’s standards of beauty and sexual allure. See their photos here. Interested in conducting a media project of your own with girls in your agency or school? Contact us.

The mission of the Girls in Society project is to advance collective understanding of the early sexualization phenomenon, and to study effective community approaches to it.

From ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ to pre-teens seeking plastic surgery to ‘sexting,’ cultural forces are pushing girls to adopt earlier and earlier sexual identities. Who or what is responsible, and what, if anything, can be done? In 2011, Youth Catalytics released What Are Doing to Girls? The Early Sexualization Phenomenon and How Communities are Responding. In it, we identify a variety of forces that are driving the early sexualization of girls, from media and marketing to biological and social factors. The report describes an array of community-based approaches to the problem, ranging from parental education, sex education, and adventure and girls empowerment groups to media education and advocacy campaigns. It also examines the theoretical underpinnings of these approaches and what evaluations have shown about their effectiveness.

In this set of web pages, we describe current approaches and impacts, and invite you to let us know about others. We also offer an up-to-date roundup of news about both girls and boys and again invite your contributions to our growing archive on the topic. Finally, we hope you’ll explore the photo and media projects we’ve conducted with girls on their own attitudes and experiences of sexualization.

Find out how you can support our work.