|Women's Genitals Infantilized|
Disturbingly, this prepubescent sexual ideal may affect not only women's body image and sexual health, but also the safety of our children.
Concludes the authors about the possible effects on children:
The safety and well-being of younger members of the female population may also be affected by the prepubescent ideals promoted by Playboy Magazine. By sexualizing childlike physical characteristics, Playboy photographs have the potential to condition readers to experience sexual arousal in response to viewing or fantasizing about girls and young women. In addition, repeated masturbation to these pornographic images is likely to reinforce and enhance any formed associations. Moreover, the ‘‘childification’’ of Playboy models may lead readers to not only regard children and adolescents as sexual objects, but to justify treating them as such and desensitize them to any internal inhibitions surrounding pedophilia (Russell & Purcell, 2006). Disturbingly, in addition to depicting models in a childlike form, Playboy Magazine often includes childhood photographs of its centerfold models within their individual pictorials, further intensifying the connection between children and sexuality presented to its readers.
And on women:
As these ideals are increasingly embraced, women’s physical deviation from the prototype may become especially salient to them and cause significant body image disturbance. Moreover, with some population norms shifting in the opposite direction of Playboy ideals (e.g., increasing BMI; Spitzer et al., 1999), more women are likely to be affected and greater discrepancies in appearance are likely to be perceived. [...]
Media images may not only contribute to concerns about genital appearance, but may also affect women’s sexual health via the body modifications they encourage. According to a 2001 excerpt from Shine Magazine (as cited in Braun, 2005), ‘‘A lot of women bring in Playboy, show me pictures of vaginas and say, ‘I want to look like this’’’ (p. 413). Women who undergo cosmetic genital surgery in an attempt to more accurately fit media ideals put themselves at risk for reduced physical sensation (Liao & Creighton, 2007), among other complications. Even seemingly more feasible and benign physical changes may confer negative health repercussions; for instance, shaving pubic hair increases the likelihood of spreading sexually transmitted infections (Palefsky & Handley, 2002). Thus, the unnatural ideals presented in Playboy Magazine can have far-reaching implications for women’s physical self-image as well as their sexual health.
You can download the whole article "Evulvalution: The portrayal of Women's External Genitalia and Physique across Time and the Current Barbie Doll Ideals" (2011) in PDF-format here.
Photo from Women's Genitals Infantilized.