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Body Image. 2014 Sep;11(4):396-403. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.06.007. Epub 2014 Jul 17.

Contemporary girlhood: maternal reports on sexualized behaviour and appearance concern in 4-10 year-old girls.

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School of Psychology, Flinders University, Australia. Electronic address:
Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England, UK.


It is widely accepted that the sexualization of girls has increased markedly over time. The overall aim of the present study was to offer a description of the behaviours of young girls, with a particular focus on potentially sexualized behaviours and appearance concern. A sample of 815 mothers of 4-10 year-old girls completed a questionnaire about a range of behaviours exhibited by their daughters, in addition to measures of their own self-objectification and material concern. It was found that many girls engaged with teen culture and used a variety of beauty products, but few exhibited more overtly sexualized behaviours. Involvement with teen culture, using beauty products, attention to clothes, and personal grooming were all associated with the measure of appearance concern, as were maternal self-objectification and material concern. It was concluded that young girls do engage in 'grown up' behaviours and that such engagement is not benign for their development.


Appearance concern; Girls; Self-objectification; Sexualization; Teen culture

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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