TEEN girls are turning to destructive behaviour such as binge-drinking, extreme dieting and self-harm because of the pressures of being forced early into an adult world, an expert in adolescent females says.
Author and founder of Enlighten Education Dannielle Miller said girls had become more aggressive and overtly sexual - in their clothes, language and actions - because of the society around them.
Ms Miller is one of the keynote speakers at Pearls of Wisdom this weekend at Shoal Bay, a conference marking the 30th anniversary of Maitland Newcastle Catholic Diocese Federation of Parents and Friends.
The two-day conference includes speakers on boys and new generations as well as workshops on issues such as cyber safety, children's health and behaviour management.
Ms Miller's talk Wake Up Sleeping Beauty is about girls' body image.
"We know girls are performing academically, performing on the sporting field, yet they still get so caught up in compare-and-despair," she said.
"The ultimate glass ceiling is the bathroom mirror."
The mother-of-three said today's girls were the demographic most targeted by marketing and much of today's airbrushed advertising, role models and media messages created feelings of inadequacy that could lead to eating disorders, self-harm and binge-drinking.
Girls had confused empowerment with aggression thanks to violent fictional female characters like Lara Croft Tomb Raider.
Some of the over-sexualisation was from images such as music videos but also from boys who had been misguided by the internet and mainstream media, Ms Miller said.
She said a red flag for parents would be their daughter's refusal to go to school, withdrawal and changes in appetite, sleep patterns and appearance.
"Boys explode but girls implode," she said.
The former school teacher called for mandatory airbrushing disclosures, classification of music videos and tougher regulations on public advertisements.