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Eat Behav. 2016 Aug;22:113-118. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2016.05.002. Epub 2016 May 10.

The influence of maternal self-objectification, materialism and parenting style on potentially sexualized 'grown up' behaviours and appearance concerns in 5-8year old girls.

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Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England, Bristol, United Kingdom; School of Psychology, Flinders University, South Australia, Australia. Electronic address:
School of Psychology, Flinders University, South Australia, Australia.


There is widespread concern about young girls displaying 'grown up' or sexualized behaviours, as well as experiencing body image and appearance concerns that were previously thought to only impact much older girls. The present study examined the influence of three maternal attributes, self-objectification, materialism and parenting style, on sexualized behaviours and appearance concerns in young girls. A sample of 252 Australian mothers of 5-8year old girls reported on the behaviours and appearance concerns observed in their daughters and also completed measures of their own self-objectification, materialism and parenting style. It was found that a significant proportion of young girls were engaging with 'teen' culture, using beauty products and expressing some degree of appearance concern. Maternal self-objectification was related to daughters' engagement in teen culture, use of beauty products and appearance concern. Maternal materialism was related to girls' engagement in teen culture and appearance concern, while an authoritative parenting style was negatively related to girls' use of beauty products. The findings suggest that maternal self-objectification and materialism play a role in the body image and appearance concerns of young girls, and in so doing, identify these maternal attributes as novel potential targets for intervention.


Body image; Materialism; Maternal; Parenting style; Self-objectification; Sexualization

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