Essay about The Effects of Societal Sexualization on Adolescence Girls Self Esteem

Submitted By shelbypaige
Words: 3624
Pages: 15

English 101
Research paper

The Effects of Societal Sexualization on Adolescence Girls Self Esteem

When did children stop playing with Barbie, and start trying to be her? When did the fear or being fat, or ugly replace the joy of chasing the ice cream truck? Why is it that young girls feel such pressure from society to be perfectly shaped, colored and sexy? American society has created this unfeasible image of what sexy and beautiful is suppose to be, this image that young girls desperately aspire become. Young girls feel pressure to meet the physical qualifications for sexy, while at the same time they are trying to fulfill the stereotypical gender role of a female in order to properly fit in with society’s expectations. Young girls are expected to remain inferior to men, and are seen as sex objects rather than teenage girls. During adolescence, girls between the ages 13 to 17 experience one of the most vulnerable stages of their life. (Moksnes, 2010). These young girls encounter sexualization of females everyday, and because of this young girls self esteem suffers and they grow up to believe that they are suppose to look and be perfect. The American Psychological Association defines sexualization in four components; when a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, excluding other characteristics; when a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness with being sexy; when a person is sexually objectified, that is made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or when sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.(APA, 2007). Many Psychologists and researchers have explored the effects of sexualization our society imposes on young girls and how it effects the self-esteem of adolescent girls. Further research shows how these four components have lead to hinder the development and self-esteem of young girls through a very vulnerable time in their lives. Sexualization of girls occurs when society assumes that the success, value and abilities of a girl are based on the fact that she is not male. Men are seen as more successful, smarter and overall more capable than females in many areas including academics, and athletics. In school there is an underrepresentation of females in all science and math based subjects such as engineering, technology, and all mathematic classes (Leaper, 2012). These subjects are expected to be male dominated, and girls are assumed to struggle more with these subjects than with an English or art class (Leaper, 2012). The Journal of School Psychology published a study done by three researchers, Meece, Glienke, and Burg, who tested the effects of gender roles in academic motivation. They found that young girls were more likely to relate their academic success to hard work and effort, whereas boys related their success to ability (Meece, Glienke, Burg, 2006). This means that girls are going into academic settings, already expecting to have to work harder than boys to obtain the same grades. Which as a result could be keeping girls from excelling in these subjects. Meece and her team also claim that adolescent girls get an easy way out when they claim they have failed due to lack of skill rather than recognizing their lack of effort, researchers called this idea learned helplessness (Meece, et al., 2006). Learned helplessness can also be seen in the sexualization of young girls within athletics. Sports and athleticism has historically been looked at as a masculine activity (Bowker, 2003). Adolescent girls find it hard to identify themselves with competitive sports because of its masculine connotation, especially in a time where society pushes girls to embrace their new femininity (Bowker, 2003). Girl’s use learned helplessness to dismiss being weaker, less muscular and less athletic than men. Its common to hear when comparing boys and girls athletic