Sexy Girls

If I were to say that it's not a good idea for young girls to wear provocative clothes and otherwise attempt to make themselves look "sexy," a lot of people would call me a prude. Modesty, it seems, is no longer a virtue in our culture.

So before you pin the prude label on me please note that no less than the American Psychological Association just issued a report about the harmful effects that this increasing sexualization of girls , especially in the media, has on both the girls involved and everyone else.

Call the APA what you want, but it is clearly not a right-wing, bible-thumping, or in any way conservative organization. Quite the opposite. That's why their report and its conclusions are so stunning. You can get the full report here, or see some press coverage here. A few highlights:

  • Studies have found sexualization is linked to three of the most common mental health problems in girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression.
  • Thong panties are now available for girls as young as 7.
  • Nearly half of American children ages 4-6 have a TV in their bedroom.
  • In 2005, 77% of prime-time network programs included sexual material
  • In a 2002 study, seventh-grade girls who viewed idealized magazine images of women reported a drop in body satisfaction and a rise in depression.
  • Kids as young as 5 are being treated for eating disorders.
The problem is that it is easy to confuse a healthy concern for ones body with flaunting your sexuality. The media is no help in this regard, bombarding us with images of fantastically beautiful people and products that claim to make us look like them.

Unfortunately many parents are not much help either. They want their daughters to be "attractive" and so allow them to wear revealing clothes and sexualize themselves in other ways. Mothers who grew up amid the "Sexual Revolution" encourage in their own daughters an obsession with outward appearance. (It happens with males, too - we all want a chiseled jawline and sculpted abs, but we are less likely to go to extremes trying to get these things.)

Why? Why is it so important for every girl to look like a movie star? Are there no better things for them to do? Apparently not. Quite the opposite, if family budgets are any guide. Many parents spend a lot more on clothes, make-up and skin care products than they do on books or education for their daughters. Some parents even get cosmetic surgery for their girls who are still in high school. The only conclusion I can draw is that parents, mainly mothers, desperately want their daughters to be the most popular, beautiful, attractive girl in her class.

So, all you moms out there who want this, listen up. Your little girl can be "attractive" while you save a lot of time and money. Here's what to do: just have your daughter take off her expensive panties, lay down on the ground and spread her legs wide open. That's all it takes. I guarantee she will quickly attract all the boys she can handle.

I apologize for the crudity of that image, but is it not what you are trying to achieve? Why not just skip the interim steps and go straight for the finish line? The boys really don't care what kind of earrings your daughter is wearing.

"No," you indignantly reply. "My daughter can be sexy without being sexual." Really? How does that work? She parades the goodies in front of boys whom we have taught to give in to every feel-good impulse, yet you think she will say "No" at just the right time?

Please. The very idea is absurd. At best she will give in to the pressure and live with the consequences. At worst, she will run into boys who don't care if she says "no" and will take what they want anyway.

The reality is that you will get what you are asking for when you do this to your daughters. Then you will suddenly decide you don't like it. Sorry - it's a little too late at that point. (Of course boys and their parents share the blame for this state of affairs. That's a different topic, and anyway it takes two to tango.)

I am not suggesting that girls should wear veils and robes and never be seen in public. All I'm saying is that outward appearance is not the be-all and end-all of our lives. Part of that means dressing with appropriate modesty so that everyone's thoughts can remain on the more important things.

We are not teaching this to our children and they will suffer as a result. Again, this comes from the mental health professionals, not the pulpit. It's not just a religious issue. Our culture defers to the pshrinks about everything else. Will we ignore them this time?

When physical perfection is the goal, failure is inevitable. We see impossibly pretty people in the media and want to be like them. The sad fact is most of us can't be like them, but we keep on trying. In fact the real people may not look like what you see - you could be viewing the digitally enhanced version.

Attaining this level of perfection is an impossible dream and sets us up for the problems APA identified - depression, eating disorders, failure to pay attention to more important priorities. Want examples? How about Britney Spears? Lindsey Lohan? The late Anna Nicole Smith? You really want your daughter to follow those examples?

Yes, we need to change the culture. Parents can instill values but kids eventually go outside the house. They will see the messages that start this whole process. However we can take steps to minimize the exposure and teach our kids how to resist it. Is it easy? No. Is it critical for their future? Absolutely. Here is a good place to start.

1 comment:

Jennifer F. said...

Because I can trace every issue but global warming back to contraception, I'm going to throw it out there that this absurdity goes back to the widespread use and acceptance of contraception.

Since most people used to end up getting married, and marriage meant children, society prized values in girls and boys that ultimately would make them good parents (e.g. good manners, honesty, hard working, etc.) Now that we "understand" that sex is all about pleasure and marriage is all about sex, women want to optimize on being "hot" and "sexy", and they're instilling those values in their daughters.

Just a random thought. :)