american psychological association

The sexualization of children and adolescents epidemic has been all over the news and across the internet, partly due to the recent announcement from Mattel, Inc and Nickelodeon that Dora the Explorer is going skank,

dora-the-explorer-going-skank-150x150-2 The sexualization of children and adolescents epidemic has been all over the news and across the internet, partly due to the recent announcement from Mattel, Inc and Nickelodeon that Dora the Explorer is going skank, but also because of the new Tattoo Barbie, Pregnant Barbie and other toys for children and clothes that are sexualizing girls and boys at a very young age.

CNN’s headline report “Dora the Explorer Going Skank, Moms Fear” quickly became a hot topic on various forums and social networking sites including Twitter, with users poking fun at upset moms and dads who fear their children are being targeted by media moguls and marketers to grow up faster than children should.

Sexualizing children is not funny and it’s not a joke, and if parents don’t start paying attention to what the American Psychological Association (APA) report found to be the growing trend to sexualize young girls and boys through video games, television shows, movies, music videos, song lyrics, magazines, clothing styles and toys, you’ll find yourself scratching your head wondering what happened to your little prince or princess well before they reach the teen years.

The definition of the sexualization of young girls or boys means to “make sexual in character or quality”, and sexualized images suggest “sexual availability to the exclusion of other personal characteristics and qualities”, which is inappropriate, obscene, and harmful for young children.

Sexualization of Children – So Sexy, So Soon

credit_card_underwear_small1-150x150-2 If you don’t believe me, just try and go shopping for children’s clothes and underwear that aren’t too tight, body-fitting, low-cut, too short, “sexy”, with messages and sexualized images that say things like “eye candy”, “So many boys, So little time”, “Who needs credit cards”, “Mr. Pimp”, “Mr. Well-Hung”, all while hearing your little prince or princess repeat song lyrics like “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me”, “so blow me bitch,” “I rock for topless dancers,” and “I tell hoes all the time, bitch get in my car.”

“Hot Tots” and “Prostitots” are just two of the descriptive urban slang terms being used to describe girls who dress like tarts, as today’s tarted-up society teaches young girls as young as 4 and 5 that body image and looking like sexy lolita’s is important, even before reaching the tween years.

The Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. sees patients as young as six with eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem, as young girls worry and obsess about their weight and physical appearance, expressing increasing dissatisfaction with their bodies at a younger age than ever before.

Young girls who are barely out of diapers are getting a little girl “princess makeover” at kiddy salons, and are being encouraged to wear make-up, skin-tight mini-skirts, push-up bras, thong underwear and high-heeled pumps, to the extent that wanting to look pretty and cute has developed into something sick, demeaning and depraved.

Sadly, some people just don’t “get it”. Some people, including parents, view the sexualization of children as something of minor importance, while the APA report concluded that young boys and girls are growing up to view themselves as sex objects and are more likely to experience poor self-image, eating disorders, depression, academic failure in school, low self-confidence, with increased likelihood of engaging in sexual activity at a very young age, due to the fact that girls who look older tend to attract more attention from boys.

The “Ban Barbie” movement is very real, as is the online petition opposing the new sexy Dora, started by authors of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes, Lyn Mikel Brown and Sharon Lamb, who are asking the SoCal companies to resist giving Dora the Explorer a tween makeover and turning Dora into a skanky Bratz doll saying, Let’s Go! No Makeover for Dora!. The petition asks, “What next? Dora the Cheerleader? Dora the fashionista with stylish purse and stilettos? Dora the Pop Star with Hoppin’ Dance Club and “Juice” Bar?”

“We don’t need any more tween dolls teaching girls that growing up means turning into a fashionista, excited about secrets and crushes and going shopping… Please don’t push this version of what it means to be a teenager on young girls. It limits them, narrows their options, and leads them to think that what matters most about themselves is how they look and what they buy.”

Look Like a Barbie Doll? Look Like Bratz?

bratz-dolls-sexualizing-girls-150x150-2 Young girls, tweens and teen girls are searching the internet for information on “look like Barbie”, “look like a Barbie”, “how to look like Barbie”, “want to look like Barbie”, “look like a doll”, “look like Bratz” and “Barbie look a like” just to name few. Add “look like Dora” to that “look like” list for girls, who try and copy the look and appearance of Bratz dolls, Barbie dolls (and soon the Dora the Explorer Goes Skank doll), and the battle over Barbie vs. Bratz vs. Dora the Explorer will rise to new heights.

Do you really want your daughter growing up thinking she needs to look like a Barbie doll pop tart? What about your young sons? Boys face sexualization too, as has been seen in Calvin Klein ads, where pubescent-looking boys pose provocatively with perfectly sculpted six-pack abs hawking teen fashion clothing lines, to point out one noteworthy example.

If you don’t have daughters but you do have sons, don’t ignore or discount the effects of seeing or being around little girls who dress like little prosti-tot tarts can have on your little boys. Just because the APA report focuses primarily on girls being targeted with sexualized images and products, with 85 percent of ads sexualizing and objectifying girls in some form or fashion, the damage and harmful effects on boys is of great concern to many.

Parents, read the APA report yourself in its entirety and make up your own mind. Protect your children’s innocence. Take the television out of their bedrooms and monitor what your kids watch, and don’t allow your children to have computers in their bedroom where you can’t monitor what they’re doing online.

Don’t buy “sexy”, skanky, racy, inappropriate clothes, toys, games or other products for your children, and don’t accept inappropriate gifts for your kids from others. Learn to say No and mean No! Be the parent, not their friend.

Categories: Children, Education, Family, Health, Men, Parenting, Reviews, Shopping, Teenagers, Women – Tags: american psychological association, cnn, dora the explorer, mattel inc, pregnant barbie, sexualization of children, twitter

abercrombie-fitch-thong-for-girls-2An entire generation of young girls is being psychologically damaged by the onslaught of marketing tactics surrounding inappropriate “sexy” children’s fashions, toys, music, books and sexualized images in the media, and parents should be very concerned.

According to the American Psychological Association, in their Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, girls as young as 4 and 5 years old are no longer wearing “old-fashioned” clothing styles but are now wearing push-up bras, thongs, mini or micro-mini skirts, sequined crop tops and other hooker-style “fashionable” outfits. Well, how about that? Walk into any number of department or boutique stores aimed at young girls, and you will find clothes that were once reserved for fully grown, adult women akin to Fredericks of Hollywood.

Young girls are being bombarded by images they see on television, in magazines, children’s books and toys, and are facing greater pressures to “fit in”. Supermarket giant Tesco came under fire again for selling a padded push-up bra for girls as young as seven, and it’s not the first time Tesco has come under fire for selling similar products to young girls and teens. The in-depth APA Report says the prevalence of eating disorders, depression and low self-esteem, has greatly increased in very young girls, also saying that girls are more likely to have underage sex as a direct result of the media’s sexualization of children.

“So Sexy So Soon” Video- Jean Kilbourne & Diane Levin on “Today”

Ten year-old girls are sliding on their low-rise jeans over “eye-candy” panties, wearing slutty Halloween costumes, and high heeled shoes, with young girls worrying about their weight and physical appearance at much younger ages. Young girls, and young boys, are wearing racy, obscene and violence-related clothing, including T-shirts with alcohol and sexual innuendo messages displayed.

slutty-halloween-costumes-2

Little girls are learning how to be “sexy” and how being pretty is important, as well as learning how they can look like Bratz dolls, according to Diane Levin, PhD. Professor of education at Wheelock College in Boston. Levin is soon to release her new book, So Sexy, So Soon: The Sexualization of Childhood in Commercial Culture, stressing that the problem is not that children are learning about sex; the problem is what they are learning about relationships. Girls are being taught to be sexy and that being sexy is extremely important, even at a very young age. They’re not learning how to treat others as people, they’re learning to treat others as objects, says Levin.

credit_card_underwear_small-2Make no mistake about the sexual influence on young girls, from the likes of celebrity stars Miley Cyrus a.k.a. Hanna Montana, Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears, Lindsay Lohan and numerous other high-profile actors, actresses and musicians. The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development, says Eileen Zurbriggen, the APA’s task force chairwoman. “As a society, we need to replace all these sexualized images with ones showing girls in positive settings. The goal should be to deliver messages to all adolescents – boys and girls – that lead to healthy sexual development.”

Parents think it’s clever or “cute” to allow their young girls to wear tight T-shirts that say, “So many boys, so little time”, or smiling as their young daughter sings “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”, but likely won’t be so amused when they’re child becomes sexually active or pregnant by the time they turn 12.

Parents need to protect their children as much as possible. As much attention as there has been about protecting kids from pedophiles, parents can either play a major role in contributing to the sexualization of children, or they can play a protective and educational role.

The APA recommends that parents support campaigns, companies and products that promote a healthy and positive image of girls and boys. Complain to manufacturers, advertisers, television and movie producers and retail stores that “sell sex” with their products targeting children. Parents should be very careful that they’re not raising Lolita in the Classroom, but encourage girls to become involved in sports and other extracurricular activities that promote talents, skills and abilities over their physical appearance.

Talk to your young children about sex, even as young as 3 or 4 years old, because they’re already learning about sex and “sexy” and how girls “should” be sexy to get attention from boys. If you haven’t paid close attention to what kids are seeing on mainstream television and in movies, you might be stunned to see the flirtacious female characters, sexual innuendos, racy body language and the importance placed on being “hot”.

mr-pimp-2Even if you’re not a parent of girls, but only have boys, you’re still not out of the woods. Consider the effects sexualized girls has on boys, and your feeling of relief of not having girls to be worried about will likely be gone for good. Fashion trends in clothing for boys depict disrespectful, violent themes with sayings on T-shirts such as, “Mr. Pimp”, “Mr. Well-Hung” and similar disgusting messages.

As a parent, have you noticed how children are being sexualized by marketers, celebrities, and other media? Are you concerned about the effects this is or may have on your own children? What are you doing to protect your own children from these pressures?

Further Reading:

You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Say About You

Miley Cyrus AKA Hanna Montana Goes Topless For Vanity Fair

Let’s Talk About Teens and Sex

Categories: Children, Education, Family, Friendship, Health, Parenting, Relationships, Shopping, Teenagers, Women – Tags: american psychological association, Britney Spears, inappropriate fashion for children, Jamie Lynn Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, sexualization of children, slutty halloween costumes, So Sexy So Soon, Tesco