Thousands of readers follow Mary Finucane (l.) who blogs about steering her daughter Caoimhe (r.) away from the Disney Princess habit. Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Caoimhe Finucane, dressed as a native American, once ‘played’ by sitting still to wait for her prince. Her mom now encourages her to expand
her image of girls’ roles. Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Maya Rovniak, 13, uses mascara almost daily – as do 18 percent of US girls ages 8 to 12. Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Increasingly sexualized images of women in advertising are beacons for even young girls. Padded bras exist for girls as young as 5. Matt Rourke/AP
Girls see cheerleaders much more often on TV than female athletes playing basketball or other sports. Ric Tapia/Icon SMI/Newscom/File
Girls start to drop out of sports – such as track – at the middle-school level when they start to believe that sports are unfeminine and unsexy. Newscom
Modern American girlhood, some experts and commentators say, is threatened by an increasingly sexualized environment in popular culture. The Green Girls summer program in Nashua, N.H. attempts to refocus young girls' self-awareness from what they look like to the good they can do -- with mentoring to back it up. Here a group of girls finishes up a trash collection project. Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
If the shoe fits, should she wear it? Harriet Rovniak, 10, tries on sky-high heels for fun in a Natick, Mass. store. Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Young girls hang out doing handplays before activities begin in a self-esteem-building program of mentoring and enrichment at Girls, Inc., a nonprofit in Nashua, N.H. Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Amid fear that Hamas had captured an Israeli soldier, the Israeli military sealed civilians in the Rafah area and began shelling on Aug. 1, 2014. The Israeli military confirmed that Rafah residents were barred from leaving the area, but declined comment on the war crime allegations.
ByKarin Laub and Ibrahim Barzak, Associated Press
The first of August dawned as a day of promise for the Mahmoum clan and thousands of other Palestinians stuck in United Nations shelters in Rafah — thanks to a temporary cease-fire with Israel they could go home for three days.