When I was 6, my biggest concerns were calling dibs on the "good swing" at recess and making sure my sister didn't steal my Barbie. Worrying that my Little Mermaid T-shirt was sexy enough didn't happen. But times they are (disturbingly) a changin'.
A new study done by Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. showed 60 girls two paper dolls, one dressed in a "sexy" crop top, mini skirt, and heels, and the other dressed in a modest v-neck sweater, jeans, and sneakers. They asked the girls which doll looked like herself, which looked how she wanted to look, which was the popular girl in school, and which she wanted to play with. You can probably guess where this is going.
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The so-called sexy doll won across the board, with 68 percent of girls saying the doll looked how she wanted to look and 72 percent saying she was more popular than the non-sexy doll.
Now, we could easily blame the media and chalk it up to these girls watching too many episodes of "Toddlers and Tiaras," but it's a bit more complicated than that. The girls who were most likely to choose the sexy doll fell into one of two categories:
1. Girls who watch a lot of TV and movies and had mothers concerned about their appearance.
2. Girls who did not watch a lot of TV and movies and had religious mothers.
The first one seems to make sense. The theory behind the second group is the "forbidden fruit" idea; the girls are idealizing the stuff they're not allowed to see.
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There is some hope for parents with daughters: Girls who were involved with sports, girls whose mothers used sexy images on TV as teaching examples, and girls with religious mothers (but who were still allowed to watch TV and movies) were the least likely to choose the sexy doll.