The Threat to Teenage Girls
Teen girls involvement with pornography is happening much more frequently than in past decades; and the mental, emotional, and physical effects are harmful and even catastrophic for their long term well-being.
Below are two of the ways in which psychologists and social scientists have identified that modern pornography is affecting teenage girls.
Body Image Issues
It’s not new information that teen girls struggle with body image and body positivity. It’s an issue that teen girls will likely struggle with universally until the end of time. Their bodies are changing, somehow both rapidly and slowly, causing a lot of questions and feelings about how they look and how others view them. Teen girls will have moments of doubt about their appearance and bodies. Enter pornography. Many teen girls turn to pornography for their curiosity about their bodies and the way they should look. It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that this is going to exacerbate body image problems, rather than solve them.
The first thing that happens when girls turn to pornography in the throes of body image issues is that they instantly begin to compare their body to the bodies of women in pornography. The bodies they see there, for the most part, are simply not realistic. Many women in pornography are surgically enhanced, retouched, or subject to impressive special effects. Not to mention they tend to be very fit and fortunately proportioned women to begin with. This will communicate to teen girls that they must look like that to be sexually desirable or successful in a sexual relationship.
Also, pornography doesn’t usually portray women as deeply developed characters – or even people at all. When troubled teen girls view pornography, the objectification of women can teach them that men will only see them as that – an object. In turn, girls can begin dressing in more promiscuous and revealing fashions, flaunting their bodies and even objectifying themselves.
Relationship Perception Issues
Another major effect of pornography on teen girls is the distortion of relationships in their minds. Rarely, if ever, are the “relationships” shown in pornography very realistic. The vast majority of pornographic content is created for males, and is therefore focused on sex acts and not any type of emotional relationship or connection. Teen girls may inaccurately assume that men do not connect emotionally with women in an intimate way, or that unattached, one-sided, or even violent sexual encounters are the norm for intimate relationships (from Psychology Today). A 2008 study found that adolescents are more likely to pursue non-committed or risky sexual encounters when they’ve been regularly exposed to pornography (Peter & Valkenburg). Teen girls viewing pornography may think fleeting, detached sexual encounters are completely normal and safe, which is definitely not the message teen girls need to hear.
Pornography can and does affect teen girls, even though it is usually assumed of teenage boys. Few things could be more important than help them escape the pornography trap before it lead to long term addiction.