According to a new study, a major proportion of young/teenage girls' clothing is overtly 'sexy' or sexualising.
Researchers say that this has serious implications as girls are exposed to confronting the issue of sexual identity at a very young age, thanks to the clothing.
"Even though parents might see them as more acceptable [than purely sexy clothes], I'm not sure they're perceived that differently," study researcher Sarah Murnen, a social psychologist at Kenyon College in Ohio, said of the clothes that mixed sexuality and girlishness.
The study reveals that up to 30 pc of teenage girls' clothing available online in the US is sexualising.
According to the 'objectification theory', women from Western cultures are widely portrayed as objects of the male gaze. This leads to the development of self-objectification in women.
Subsequently, women start viewing their own bodies as objects to be evaluated according to narrow standards often sexualised of attractiveness.
Researchers see girls' clothing as a possible social influence that may contribute to self-objectification in preteen girls.
A study across all the stores revealed that of the 5,666 clothing items, 69 pc had only childlike characteristics. Of the remaining 31 pc, 4 pc had only sexualised characteristics, 25 pc had both sexualising and childlike features, and 4 pc had neither sexualised nor childlike elements.
It emerged that sexualisation occurred most frequently on items that emphasized a sexualised body part, such as shirts and dresses that were cut in a way as to create the look of breasts.
Even highly decorated pant pockets call attention to the buttocks.
The study has been published online in Springer's journal, Sex Roles.