I saw this headline on a news feed and was immediately enraged. Turns out it was simply a blog post written by a Mom whose two-year-old was demanding to go outside in her flimsy bathing suit cover-up.
It did however; touch a nerve since I have been recently aware of how the girls in my son’s 1st grade class tend to dress. On Halloween, we had a sexy, short-skirted super girl. On any day of the week, we might see barely covered tummies and dresses worn sans shorts and considered suitable for hanging upside down from the monkey bars.
With Christmas coming, dresses at such popular mainstream retailers as Macy’s border on the absurd. This might just be me, but, I find it hard to understand why parents agree to sexually provocative outfits for their young girls.
This article in the L.A. Times, Sexy Halloween Costumes For Little Girls, quotes author, Diane E. Levin, a professor of education at Wheelock College in Boston and co-author, , of “So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids.”
Since television was deregulated in the early 1980s, marketing strategies have taken over all aspects of kids’ lives. From bedsheets to clothes and shoes to the lunch box they carry — they’re all linked to media, to popular culture. The message is, this is what’s desirable, this is what you should be.
And look at what they were offered: For boys, there was GI Joe, He-Man, Transformers, Ninja Turtles, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. For girls, there was My Little Pony, Care Bears, Disney’s princesses. Gender roles were very much part of that marketing. There was a whole new escalation in gender division when children began to become a market.
Kids are trying to figure out from an early age, “What does it mean to be a girl, or to be a boy?” They look at the most dramatic examples they can find to figure that out. Marketers are making it the most extreme they possibly can for that reason. Sexy is part of that marketing to girls — just as macho and violent has become the way to market things to boys.
This is one of the reasons we choose not to have a television signal at our house and why we shy away from movies made in the last 20 years. Mothers of girls worry that their daughters will grow up to believe that being sexy is all important. We mothers of sons worry that they will agree.
With the holidays coming can I put out a plea to all mothers of girls? Please dress her like one.
Photo Credit: MyMollypop at Flickr Under Creative Commons License.