Meenakshi Gigi Durham, PhD (Professor and Collegiate Scholar, University of Iowa), reviews prevalent female sexualization myths at #AskTheExperts webinar “Mirror, Mirror, in My Palm: Girls and Media” on September 7, 2022.

[Dr. Meenakshi Gigi Durham]: So, the myths that I have identified are myths of sexualization, and I’m going to run through them very quickly. The first one is the myth that “if you’ve got it, flaunt it,” which is about girls having to signal their sexuality by removing as much clothing as possible and exposing their bodies as much as possible, which also relates to sexting, where they feel like, you know, transmitting risque messages as a way to signal their desire. There’s a condition to that myth, “if you’ve got it, flaunt it.” And “it,” of course, refers to a certain type of body, the anatomy of a sex goddess, which we all know is the “Barbie body.” The third myth is “pretty babies”, as I call it, after the Brooke Shields movie of the same title, where the message is increasingly that the younger a girl is, the sexier she is.The myth that violence is sexy, which we see in a lot of horror films in particular, also video games. And the fact that what boys like matters more than what girls want and need, which you saw, for example, on the magazine cover I showed where girls are exhorted to make guys crush on you. You know how you, you know, “50 ways to please your man” kind of thing, instead of looking at their own, their own desires, their own comfort levels, their own feelings of safety and so on.

View the full webinar

Ask the Experts—Webinar

Mirror, Mirror, in My Palm: Girls and Media

How does online media affect girls' mental and physical health as they navigate through the increasingly tricky waters of social media and digital interactions?

Body Image
Sexual Content
Social Media