Objectification

“Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits".                                                   -- Tina Fey in Bossypants                 

​The sexual objectification of girls and women involves them being viewed primarily as an object of male sexual desire, rather than as a whole person, rather than a subject who has their own desires. They exist to fulfill someone else's desires. Their bodies are brazenly evaluated sexually or aesthetically, sometimes part by part, in public spaces.

 

The media has convinced girls that their worth is in their appearance

 

Women's bodies or body parts are separated from their humanity and used to sell underwear, beer, bottled water, cars, video games, furniture, movies, strip clubs and pretty much anything else you can think of. 

 

The message our daughters get (the same one their mothers get) is that how they look is more important than what they do and how they  think and feel. Our outside is more important than what's inside.

 

Girls are sexualized for the sake of boys

Girls popular with the boys are often the ones that come closest to looking like the air brushed, under nourished models we see in magazines. In other words, what men have decided women should look like.

Girls come to judge themselves through the “the male gaze”. In other words, men have decided what types of bodies, hair, and dress are beautiful and girls twist themselves into a pretzel (of the hard and flat type) to meet those expectations.

 

Feminists believe that women's bodies are about more than sex, beauty and others’ pleasure

We want our daughters to value being interesting and useful over being perfect-looking and boring or helpless. Of course that's a ridiculous dichotomy and you can be beautiful and interesting at the same time. But it's much harder to be both when you're trying to fit into the very narrow box within which we define conventional beauty and femininity in this country.

 

All that focus on your appearance and weight to get it just right takes up not just time but energy, which might otherwise be focused on, say, friendships, learning to play electric guitar or soccer, to draw, and code, or raising money for a girls’ school in Pakistan, all of which have a better, more lasting impact on how kids feel about themselves. 

Objectification and Mental Health

The American Psychological Association links the media’s increasing sexualization of girls and women to common mental health problems in girls – eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. My heart breaks for those millions of smart, funny, interesting girls who are encouraged to focus so much on their appearances at the expense of everything else wonderful about them; who view themselves through the perspective of men rather than through their own embodied eyes.

Feminist Parenting