I was pretty saddened--and shocked--to find out that according to a recent study, girls start thinking of themselves as sex objects as young as 6. Since my own daughter, Vanessa, will be turning 6 years old next week, I read the results of the study very carefully and I must say I'm tempted to try what researchers did with my daughter to see how she views herself.

Basically, they used paper dolls--one dressed in sexy clothes and the other in trendy but not revealing clothes--to ask 6- to 9-year-old girls which one looked like herself, which one looked how she wanted to look, which one was the popular girl in school and which one she wanted to play with. 

While it might not be surprising to some people, I was horrified to find out that girls chose the sexy doll most often to answer these questions. In fact, a whopping 68 percent said the sexy doll looked how she wanted to look, while 72 percent chose her as the popular girl in school. 

Read more in ¿Qué más?: Is it ever okay to let a 4-year-old girl wear mak-eup in public?

Another reason why I read the results of the study with lots of interest was to see what it is I need to do to make sure Vanessa doesn't start thinking of herself as a sex object. Luckily, researchers believe that moms play a huge role in whether or not their daughters sexualize themselves. Although I didn't really need a scientist to tell me this, it's nice to get confirmation that what we do or don't do as moms has a lasting impact on our children.

With the consequences of self-objectification and sexualization--such as eating disorders and promiscuity--being so detrimental to our girls, it's imperative that we, as mothers, do everything we can to put a stop to it. For starters, we need to lead by example, which means that we need to stop constantly worrying about our appearance and our wardrobe. Otherwise, what are we teaching them?

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We also need to talk to them candidly about sexualization and find a way to use media--the culprit of so much of our self-objectification--to teach them about unrealistic scenarios and the need to have good self- and body-esteem. Hopefully, more moms will take note and we can work towards putting an end to the ludicrous and unacceptable results of this study.

Share your thoughts with us by leaving us a comment below. 

Image via marcalandavis/flickr

About the author

Roxana A. Soto is Features Editor for MamásLatinas. She's a bilingual and bicultural journalist born in Peru and raised in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Miami. She's also mom to a girl in 3rd grade and a boy in Kinder. She loves books, languages, traveling and good food – especially when cooked by someone else.

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