Child hypersexualization is a problem that has spread in recent years, driven in part by advertising agencies and the fashion sector that have opted to extol the role of children in the commercial world. A study by The Model Alliance revealed that around 54.7% of young models started when they were between 13 and 16 years old. More worryingly, though, the research also found that most models under the age of 18 are often not accompanied by their parents or a guardian while working.
This trend, in addition to other social factors, has made girls begin to adopt attitudes typical of women at increasingly younger ages. In fact, nowadays it is not uncommon to see a 9-year-old girl wearing makeup and wearing clothes typical of teenagers or young people to go out with her classmates on the weekend. Added to this are hypersexualized behaviors since little girls start dating boys at a very young age, upload provocative photos to social networks and discover the sexual world before they are psychologically and physically prepared.
What is the difference between hypersexualization and sexuality in childhood?
Sexuality is an inherent quality of human nature that influences all spheres of child development, from the construction of gender identity and social skills to the formation of personality.
Sexuality begins to manifest very early, around the age of 3, sometimes earlier, a stage in which children begin to focus on paternal and maternal models to imitate their parents’ behaviors based on gender. That is why some girls play at imitating their mothers: they put on makeup and wear heels and adult clothes.
However, when these behaviors cease to be a simple game and the girls begin to take care of their personal appearance in an intentional way to attract the attention of the other sex, they begin to show erotic attitudes or to be interested in clothing that is not appropriate for their age, we are facing a phenomenon of infantile hypersexualization.
According to the European Parliament, childhood hypersexualization is a type of instrumental approach that focuses on objectifying the body, leaving aside personal qualities and capacities. In other words, it is about the sexualization of expressions, behaviors and clothing at an early age. Childhood hypersexualization also involves the imposition of adult sexual patterns at a young age, in which girls are emotionally and physically unprepared.
Obviously, adopting a hypersexualized attitude in childhood not only exposes girls to a higher risk of becoming victims of sexual abuse but also affects their long-term psychological development.
How does hypersexualization hinder child development?
- Increases the risk of eating disorders. Hypersexualization in childhood increases the chances of suffering from eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, in adolescence. This is because girls who grow up focused on their physical appearance often develop a great obsession with following the beauty standards established by society and end up assuming miracle diets or other habits that alter the functioning of their metabolism.
- It damages self-esteem. Girls who have grown up with a hypersexualized message will build their self-esteem on the basis of their body image and will begin to value themselves based on their physical attractiveness and the sexual desire that they arouse in the opposite sex, leaving aside their qualities and capabilities. In the long run, they will become emotionally fragile and vulnerable young people, who are easily frustrated and have a hard time setting important long-term goals.
- Affects the establishment of healthy social relationships. Girls who have been brought up under the influence of hypersexualization often have difficulty getting emotionally involved in their interpersonal relationships since they tend to maintain frivolous social relationships, in which they attach greater importance to the personal appearance and social status of their friends than to their friends. his personal qualities. In the long run, they will end up feeling very alone and misunderstood.