What do Mr. Potato Head and Barbie have in common? As strange as it may sound the vegetable and the fashion figure may tell us a lot about how little girls understand sexuality.
Female Portrayal In Current Media
As we settle into life during a pandemic more children may be exposed to more mass media images to help lessen social isolation. A new report published by the Council on Contemporary Families says female characters are underrepresented in most popular tv shows for children. When they are shown often they are portrayed in a sexualized way
During their study, researchers gave little girls a Barbie to play with. Afterward, they were asked about their career aspirations. Their responses were limited.
After other girls were given a Mr. Potato Head to play with, the girls responded with many more career choices.
Researchers say girls quickly learned that the way to achieve high status and popularity is to be sexy not smart or athletic. The study found that boys were not objectifying girls at this age.
Girls, on the other hand, were able to recount elaborate stories about why sexualized girls are more attractive. It was based on seeing images of adult women, meaning it may not be a kid’s problem. It may be a grown-up problem. Girls are trying to live up to a sexualized version of grown-up women that they are told is valued by grown-up men.