The New York Times attempts to explain the complexity of the messages young girls receive as they grow up on how they are supposed to act in this article. The article is about the new American Girl doll movie, although the writer so perfectly describes the confusion that young girls face in the beginning:
You grow up being told that you can do anything — run for president, win a Nascar race, fly into space or become a four-star general — but in the meantime everything you do is subject to intense and often contradictory scrutiny from the grown-up world. You are exposed to a barrage of mixed signals from parents, friends, teachers, television advertisements, even the stuff you play with, and your response to those signals becomes grist for expert hand wringing and opinion mongering.
Who are you supposed to be, or to avoid becoming? A nerd? A ditz? A flirt? A tomboy? What kind of role models are those make-believe princesses, those Bratz and Barbies, to say nothing of the real-life Britneys, Lindsays and Mileys? Mean Girls, Gossip Girls, Girls Gone Wild, Girl Power, You go, girl! What’s a girl to do?
He's exactly right. Advertisements may show girls sexed up, but they're not supposed to be sluts. Go indulge in that cake, but don't get fat. Be smart and go to college, but don't get too smart because then a man might not want to marry you. Navigating the messages out there and knowing which ones to ignore isn't easy, especially when young girls are told one thing by their parents but see another on television screens.