Parents of young girls were infuriated recently when popular clothier Ambercrombie and Fitch released their padded bikinis for girls ages 7- 14. After much debate the bikinis were later pulled from shelves but that is just where the conversation begin.
Chatter begin all over the country about the sexualization of young girls better known as the "Lolita Effect."
Author and assistant professor at the University of Iowa wrote a book entitled "The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of young girls and what we can do about it." She explains that for over 10 years media, music, and clothing have been huge factors in introducing girls to objectifying themselves as sex objects.
In the book she delves into extended research study that reaches across a span of 13 years and discusses the effects of media and pop culture which encourages the sexiness of little sirens. The focus of her research is not simply the judgement of parents and peers who may encourage such behavior but she makes a striking distinction between sexual deviants, predators, and others who sole purpose is to sexually abuse children.
As a mother of two young girls, I have experienced this type of child-like sex appeal first hand. My oldest daughter who is 7, but tall for her age, recently moved away from clothing sized for her age group. She began wearing a size 7 and 8 which put her amongst a group of girls in age ranges 8-14.
I was extremely disturbed this past April while searching for a dress for her to wear for Easter this year, my choices being very limited. There were halter style dresses, minis, dressed with sequins and shortened jackets all of which looked much more appropriate for girls twice her age. This however, seems to be the norm for clothing in this age group. Shopping for her has proven to be quite difficult there are short shorts, fitted tees with suggestive sayings, miniskirts, and pants with writings on the behind. All of these in my opinion are a far cry from proper as it relates to a 7 year old but the choices for modesty are few and far between. The sexually suggestive nature of the clothing is passive but posed and styled in such a way that achieves its purpose which is to become noticed particularly by members of the opposite sex.
I believe in part we as a society we have completely removed ourselves from a sexual moral compass. We have done away with a foundation for sex by detaching it from relationships and love. This is why is it so easy for us to encourage young girls to be "hot" or sexy. We distort their views of themselves as well as their expectations of others. It embodies a climatic effect that is sure to have serious repercussions.
What can we do? As moms, we can continue to voice our opinions, we have to demand that we are heard. Before we reach one corporation, one music label, or one television network we have to reach out to the community. We have to whisper in the girl around us that you are worth more than your body, it is only one part of who you really are. We have to encourage our daughters to define themselves differently. It won't be easy, but we can't be responsible for raising a generation of Sesame Streetwalkers looking for somebody to come and play. We have to make a conscious effort to be aware of the sexual socialization of our young girls and surround them with differing views that offer alternatives to the norm.
As it is with my daughters and I am sure many of yours I teach them about beauty, one that shines from within, that doesn't mean you don't enhance your physical beauty but allow what you have on the inside to compliment what is on the outside. The very nature of the woman lends itself to beauty and this is explicit as it relates to a woman's body. Since young girls have not come to the place where those distinctions are easily noted..ie..puberty has yet to take place, then there is therefore no need to place emphasis where it is not due.
Make it a totally fab Mommy day!