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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

The Sexualization of Girls and the Development of Emotional Problems

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 19th 2007

Both as a psychotherapist and as the father of two daughters I thought it was important to point out this new report from the American Psychological Association, (APA), about how the media impact girls.

A task force of the American Psychological Association just came out with an important report about the impact that the sexualization girls in the media has on the adjustment of females around the nation. What the report found was the sexualization of women as portrayed in music, advertising, movies, television, video games and on the Internet contributes significantly to low self esteem, depression and vulnerability to eating disorders.

For both girls and young women there are cognitive and emotional consequences to females being portrayed as sex objects in mass media. Among these consequences, girls become uncomfortable with their bodies, develop negative self image problems and become filled with shame and anxiety about now they believe they look to other people.

The APA states that parents can have a powerful effect in counteracting the impact of what girls are viewing. A few of the things that parents can do to help their daughters are to:

A. Watch their television programs with them and discuss how women are being portrayed and discussing how harmful and inaccurate it is.

B. Talk to their sons and raise them to value their sisters, mothers, teachers and other women and treat them with respect.

C. Focus the attention of girls on the importance of valuing their selves for who they are and not for having to appear "sexy."

These are just of few of the suggestions.

For more information on this important topic readers can go to the APA website and view the report as well other articles about how to help these girls make healthy adjustments to their bodies and to their selves as human beings.

A summary of the report that includes a lot of additional information about how parents can help can be found at the following URL:

Your comments are always welcome.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Thank you - Devin Million - Feb 8th 2008
I am a freshman in high school and i am writing a cause and effect paper for my english class on this topic. I was searching the web for some information and I would like to thank you for speaking your mind about this topic. Looking at all the sites I have it's really hard. I have looked at the symptom lists many times and my mind is telling me that i have a mental eating disorder. I have not lost a major amount of weight but I think it still might be there. The fact that it is posted on the site where you are located comforts my mind. That says you are willing to give out information to help others. It says you are located in Colorado and since I have moved back to Greeley, Colorado from Arizona I have been very focused on my body image. I didn't realize how easy it is to get sucked into the media. Thank you again! 

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