Self-Sexualization Study Reveals 6-Year-Olds' Body Issues: Is Religion the Answer?

A new study has revealed that young girls begin to sexualize themselves as early as the age of six, adding that religious belief could help to combat low body standards.

A study conducted by psychologists at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill has revealed that young girls begin to sexualize themselves at an early age. Conducted on girls between the ages of six and nine, the study used paper dolls to assess how girls viewed themselves sexually.

Both dolls were dress in trendy, modern attire but one wore modest fitted clothing while the other wore a "sexy" outfit, which revealed cleavage, a midriff, and a short cut skirt. When the girls were asked which doll they would want to look like, 68 percent chose the sexy doll. When asked which doll was more popular, 72 percent said the sexy doll. Researchers have directly linked the girl's responses to negative self-esteem issues, suggesting that the girl's attributed their self importance to their ability to be sexy.

What was the cause for the negative body perception? While media played a role, researchers discovered that media alone was not the issue and also suggested that the girl's mothers and religious values could play a role.

"Media consumption alone didn't influence girls to prefer the sexy doll," LiveScience reported. "But girls who watched a lot of TV and movies and who had mothers who reported self-objectifying tendencies, such as worrying about their clothes and appearance many times a day, in the study were more likely to say the sexy doll was popular."

However, mothers who allowed their daughter's access to media but possessed religious beliefs appeared to shelter their daughter's from negative body perceptions. The researched suggested that those mothers "may be more likely to model higher body-esteem and communicate values such as modesty," according to the study, which was led by Christy Starr.

Though it is also important to note that daughters who had religious mothers but were sheltered from media were more likely to identify with the sexy doll, a response that researchers attributed to the "forbidden fruit" effect.