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Why Our Daughters Are Becoming Sexy Too Soon

American girls are increasingly being fed a steady diet of products and images that pressure them to be sexy. From clothing to cartoons, choreography to commercials, the emphasis on sexuality undercuts parents’ efforts to instill purity in their daughters.

The American Psychological Association (APA) warns that this sexualization of girls is harmful to their self-image and healthy development. “[Girls are] experiencing teen pressures at younger and younger ages. However, they are not able to deal with these issues because their cognitive development is out of sync with their social, emotional and sexual development,” the APA reported.

The proliferation of sexual images also undermines a girl’s confidence in her own body. In fact, research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women – eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the cultural influences bombarding our daughters.
Suggestive fashion

Have you shopped for girls’ clothing lately? Toddlers to teens are inundated with adult fashions. Pop singer Beyonce now has her own clothing line that introduces the red-light district to the school lunchroom.

Popular clothing items among teens include thong underwear and shorts displaying suggestive words across the backside. The abundance of racy clothing emphasizes the message: Dress sexy.
Tarted-up toys

As young girls, most moms probably owned Barbie dolls and enjoyed collecting their clothing and accessories. Mattel today takes style to a new level with the introduction of Black Canary Barbie for adult collectors. Designed as a comic-book character, this doll is dressed in fishnet hose, a leather bikini bottom and a black leather jacket. She’s available in toy stores, right next to Ballerina Barbie. Explain that to your preschooler.

Pop-culture icons
You can't walk through the grocery checkout aisle without seeing the latest shenanigans of young celebrities. The lives of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan fascinate young girls. The Hannah Montana phenomenon, while seemingly innocent at first, has been colored by provocative photos of teenage actress Miley Cyrus. The media push young starlets to move beyond "precocious and cute" to "sensual and sexy." All the while, impressionable tween fans stand by in wide-eyed wonder, wanting to be just like them.

Who's to blame?
While it's easy to blame media for these poisonous influences, we also need to scrutinize ourselves. How many of these influences have we allowed into our homes? Are we modeling a healthy biblical view of gender and sex? If we fret over physical appearance or enjoy media laden with sexual images, chances are we will pass on the same mind-set to our daughters.

We must take a fresh look at what messages enter our home. While it would be impossible to shield children from every damaging influence, we can certainly take a stand against the worst offenders. And we can inoculate our kids against the world's counterfeit sexuality by talking to them about God's good plan for men and women.

Our culture tries to convince our daughters that they amount to nothing more than the sum of their parts. Only by addressing this lie head-on will we equip our children with the truth. Our daughters need to know that God's standard for beauty is the only standard that matters.

This article first appeared in the February/March, 2009 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2009 Vicki Courtney. All rights reserved.

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Comment by Madeline Bellamy on August 20, 2011 at 10:18am

I applause you for this article. This is a topic of conversation I'm constantly having. Little girls don't act like little girls any longer, it's frightening. I feel it all started in part when baby's started having babies. The baby mama era I feel bought this on. They were still young with no husband, dressing sexy to attract the opposite sex, they were  ex: 22 with a 7 yr old girl child that is being influenced right at home. Your first influencer is your parents. By the time the child is 15 she is mimicking what she learns (if you call that learning) right at home. There goes the cycle all over again. I leave with this note. The new generation of children were never taught that there is a God in heaven and he set laws/rules for us to follow. Showing your assets is not one of them. Want ever happen to modesty.

Comment by Melanie S. on July 10, 2011 at 8:00pm
Very true indeed! My youngest is now 5 and it takes careful planning to ensure she looks like a child. Even the doggone sandals for young girls have heels on them! And now that it is summer, don't get me started on the high bikini cut style bathing suits, let alone the two piece bathing suits they have for toddlers! But it comes down to this: my husband and I set the standards in my house... No one else. When my children grow and get their "own place to hang their own shingle"... Well, even then I hope the "broughtupsy" sticks with them!
Comment by K.A.B. on July 8, 2011 at 11:09pm

parents are to blame. let your children be children. STOP DRESSING THEM LIKE 21 WOMEN AT THE CLUB... IT ISN'T CUTE!!!

 

 

Comment by Proudlady on July 7, 2011 at 8:27pm

@

Stephanie; so true. If it is that they can say that boys need to have a man in their lives to successfully become a man, then the same approach should be applied to how children are raised. Come on, if you have values, then even if your kids fall off the track at some point, and be realistic most kids do at some point, they will know and understand right from wrong and eventually, again hopefully earlier rather than later, make the right choice. As Stephanie has so poignantly identified, talk to your kids constantly. If they feel and know that they can come to their parents to talk about anything, and parents that means you need to answer your child's questions as you would a friend, then you will find better relationships between both of you. When I say speak to your children as if you would a friend, I don't mean for you to be too graphic in your explanation for their ages, but more along the lines of the approach you take with those answers. Example, if your girlfriend comes to you to talk about a guy she is seeing and she is having an issue in determining whether or when she should sleep with him, you give her your honest opinion. I really hope you are not telling your girlfriends to sleep with the man all willy nilly. So using that type of analogy, you will find that your children will respect your opinions and develop proper ways in approaching situations and how to work through them.

Parents, also remember that children will feel comfortable talking to either mommy or daddy depending on the nature of the conversation. I talk to my mom, if I am in the mood to talk and that is very rare, about situations in my personal life. I talk to my dad about business. I respect their opinions but in different capacities in my life.

Hope ya'll get the point I am trying to make.

@Stephanie, really good point.

Comment by Stephanie ALBRIGHT on July 7, 2011 at 5:29pm
....But who buys the clothes for the "children?" Parents do. You cannot complain about how fast kids are growing up and in that, how disrespectful kids are today without taking a long look at yourself (general) sometimes. I think that parents need to be having more conversation with their children and remain close to their kids because Lord knows the "streets" are the most influential on them along with their own friends. I work with juveniles in the law enforcement arena and I cannot believe more times than not, parents don't have a clue who their kids are, who they hang with, etc. It just goes to show that more times than not, kids are practically raising themselves. I agree with Proudlady who says that parents should rear their kids with the same morals and values that they have for themselves and choose to live by....but the problem with that sometimes is that many are doing that already. In other words, these particular parents have no morals or values to live by. Parents need to wake up...all parents, to realize that society is making it harder and harder for you to parent and raise your kids and making it easier and easier for them to fall by the wayside. Parents...talk to your kids. Teach them the rights from the wrongs, the things that devalue them as oppose to uplifting them. Especially teach the girls that to expose your body before they're ready for that behavior and the consequences, is not necessary and that it doesn't make you who you are and/or want to be. Teach them self-respect, self-worth, to appreciate their beauty, inside first! Teach these boys some manners and teach them the same as what you need to teach the young ladies.
Comment by BigginsMarie on July 6, 2011 at 9:32pm
Very good article
Comment by Proudlady on July 6, 2011 at 11:52am

Parents should rear their children based on the morals and values that they have for themselves and choose to live by. If you have parents raising children that have skewed thoughts and feelings on the world and what they should be doing to contribute to their own success and to the advancement of the world, then you will have children who are raised with shortcomings anyway. Ex. If you have a mother telling her daughter that you don't need to study hard or you should study hard to go to a good college to meet a rich man who can take care of you, then what kind of self-image is the child going to grow up with for herself? Meaning, instead of her knowing her own worth and what she has to offer or what she is capable of achieving, she now is stunted in her own self growth to only expect what people can offer her.

TV, music videos, books or whatever else children are exposed to can only help reinforce teachings that a parent wants to send. If you have children whose parents constantly build their children's minds into the well developed and rounded minds, like building blocks, you can have children who look at the world through eyes that will question the value of what the world is showing or offering to them.

 

Just a thought.

Comment by Kip Edwards on July 5, 2011 at 11:30pm
To me it starts with children having children mommy is 30 with a 15 year old daughter mommy has no time to look after her because she's to busy still trying to find her a man and can't stay out the club so that leaves shorty home alone to do what? #2 which is a very big one when it comes to little girls where the f*%k is daddy? If that little girl growing up doesn't get that love from daddy she'll seek it from some male that is usually wants her for one thing and one thing only!!!!!!!!!!! It's sooo sad but so true!
Comment by Amuse Me on July 5, 2011 at 8:55pm
STOP! that first sentence alone is bullshit, PARENTS take responsibility for the children you bring into the world.  Its not Vogue, or Bad Girls Club, or the Kardashians job to raise YOUR children...if your child is having sex at 10, a baby by 13 and curses you out, you have no one to blame but your damn self.
Comment by Devon Williams on July 5, 2011 at 8:23pm
That is your choice for your 8 year old to wear lip gloss and wear short clothes as she does not have a job or shop for herself.

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