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Leah Hardy in the DM about the sexualisation of children

(102 Posts)
MmeLindt Tue 09-Feb-10 10:18:14

with comments from Justine

"Growing numbers of mothers like me are appalled at what is happening to the way our children, and particularly our little girls, are being pushed into ever more adult, ever sexier styles of clothes.

We worry how our growing daughters will learn to regard themselves, and how some adults will look at them. And most of all, we worry about how fast and how much their childhoods are shrinking."

morningpaper Tue 09-Feb-10 10:21:08

I do fret slightly about the idea that wearing off-the-shoulder jumpers from M&S or shoes with heels from Next "sexualises" children. I think, actually, that it is almost puts 'the blame' on children/their mothers, whereas, as the father of the little girl who is leader the Rio Carnival put it: "If you think a seven year old is sexy then you need to see a doctor."

MmeLindt Tue 09-Feb-10 10:24:38

Good point, MP.

However, it is not just the way that the adults see children that is the problem though, it is how the girls see themselves.

And the fact that they have enough time in their lives to dress like adults and to be adults. Why do we not let them be kids?

WeddingDaze Tue 09-Feb-10 10:31:16

'However, it is not just the way that the adults see children that is the problem though, it is how the girls see themselves.'

It's not that much different from when we dressed up in mums high heels, dresses, etc. is it?

I don't like things like thongs, ewww wrong, but my daughter loves to dress like the big girls, (she's 5) I don't see what is wrong with her wearing off the shoulder tops or slight heels. It's not as if she wears them out to the park, she wears them when she's getting all dressed up for something, occasionally with some glitter and the odd bit of lipstick (gloss wink)

morningpaper Tue 09-Feb-10 10:43:03

Is it any different to dressing up as a princess or a firefighter?

If so, how, exactly?

I'm not saying that there is no difference... I am just unsure exactly what it is... I am trying to get it clear in my own head.

MmeLindt Tue 09-Feb-10 10:46:37

Dressing up for a party, or at home is different. It is a moment in time that the little girl is pretending to be a 'mummmy' when she is wearing mummy's high heels and scarf. It is a game.

A little girl playing dress up is not trying to be sexy, she is emulating her mother. Or a firefighter, or a dragon.

Putting clothes on to wear all day is different as the clothes that we wear alter other people's perception of us. And how we feel about ourselves.

morningpaper Tue 09-Feb-10 10:51:36

My dd wears bridesmaid dresses all the time

all. the. fricking. time.

Is it different?

(NB I should point out that I buy them cheapo on ebay)

morningpaper Tue 09-Feb-10 10:51:50

she is 4 btw not 17 or anything

MmeLindt Tue 09-Feb-10 10:54:38

Yes, it is different. She is dressing up. She is not trying to be sexy, and you are not trying to make her look sexy. It is a game.

Fwiw, I don't think the problem is the 4yo who are dressing up in bridesmaids/princess dresses.

The problem is the 7 - 10 yo wearing outfits like Noah Cyrus is wearing. Would you let your DD wear FuckMeBoots at that age? With fishnets?

NotAnOtter Tue 09-Feb-10 10:55:28

mp because the firefighter is not sexualisation

NotAnOtter Tue 09-Feb-10 10:55:57

that cyrus girl just looks rank

MmeLindt Tue 09-Feb-10 10:59:08

Pole dancers

morningpaper Tue 09-Feb-10 10:59:20

But the Miley Cyrus example is EXTREME

She is living in a world of super-popstars and probably her or her parents have very little grasp on reality and have hand-made boots made for her

It is a very extreme end of the argument

I think it is a bit odd perhaps if mothers are dressing up their children to "look sexy" but then we need to educate those mothers, don't we? And are children dressing up to "look sexy"? I dunno. My DDs have some hand-me-down tops that they love which is off-the-shoulder strappy things. They like them "becasue I look grown-up." I think that means that they see grown-ups/teenagers in these style of clothes and therefore associate them with that age group.

And let's be honest, "Looking sexy" is the main thing that teenagers/young women aspire to. Read every OTHER page in the Daily Mail. Women who are not aspiring to "looking sexy" are paraded for derision. Children are going to notice this, eventually.

morningpaper Tue 09-Feb-10 11:01:20

Bear in mind that Noah Cyrus's sister was paid a fortune to be photographed naked for Vanity Fair when she was 15 (because it's art, innit)

morningpaper Tue 09-Feb-10 11:02:36

The family is WEIRD I think is my point

You may as well point to Wednesday Adams as an example of where childhood is heading

Bucharest Tue 09-Feb-10 11:02:57

<LH still getting her ideas from us then>

WeddingDaze Tue 09-Feb-10 11:06:34

Exactly MP.

When my dd is wearing an off the shoulder top or a splash of make up it's because she wants to look grown up, not because she wants to look sexy. hmm

If a little girl wants to look sexy i think that says more about the parents than the clothes that are sold in a shop!

Anguis Tue 09-Feb-10 11:07:05

I wonder how useful it is, too, to focus on the extreme cases. In the more mainstream high street cases, it is perhaps not the clothes in themselves but the clothes in combination with a whole load of other signals that teach the little girl to be concerned about presenting a particular other-pleasing front.

Even in that linkd picture it is clothes plus make-up, plus the artificial adult-miming stance, plus the fact that clearly the clothing is central to the girl's experience, not peripheral.

And in ordinary cases, it isn't often that gils are wearing clothes that are intrinsically sexualising -- it is more to do with the intense focus the girls are expected to have on how they look; and sometimes to do with the combination of clothing with make-up, hair, etc.

And often, it isn't precisely the sexualising, but rather the obsessive other-pleasing that is harmful to girls. The pressure to look right among the mores of their group, and to be deeply concerned with getting it right.

For boys, their experience is more flexible and varied. They can pick up and drop the concern for clothig as their interests shift about.

MmeLindt Tue 09-Feb-10 11:11:46

I think that MN benefits as much as Leah does from the article, it is being used to promote the Let Girs Be Girls campaign

Yes, MP. The Cyrus family is truly not the benchmark of normal families but most 7yo girls know who Miley Cyrus is and want to be like her. I know my DD does already, absolutely without any encouragement from me.

MmeLindt Tue 09-Feb-10 11:14:15

Asda Metallic Biker jacket

This is the kind of thing that is for sale on the High Street. For a 4yo.

The shops are only selling these items (and things like jogging bottoms with Sexy written over the bum, eurgh) because people are buying them. So yes, the onus is on us the consumer to not buy these kind of clothes.

morningpaper Tue 09-Feb-10 11:19:02

What's wrong with the biker jacket, exactly? It's a biker jacket. 10 years ago I might have bought it for my DD - because her dad was a motorcyclist and wore one just like it. It would be mimicking daddy. Is it sexual? Really?

Anguis Tue 09-Feb-10 11:20:37

Joggin bottoms with sexy written on them, for children: that is horrible!

Not sure what is wrong with the biker jacket though. I don't like the DM picture caption saying that wearing a short skirt is provocative: short skirts on gilds have been common for a long time -- gym skirts etc. They have been colonised as sexual by other people's eyes, and it seems a bit diminishing of girls to say they can not waer them because of that colonisation. Even exposed hair can be colonised as provocative if we allow men's eyes to determine the meaning of women's bodies.

Clearly inapproriate clothes are an important part of the whole equation, though.

morningpaper Tue 09-Feb-10 11:22:55

(I should point out that I dressed in clothkits until I was 18 and wasn't allowed trousers or to ever reveal my shoudlers because only bad girls and sluts did that. So I was the Goodest Girl ever. I'm not sure that being a Good Girl is a brilliant thing to aspire to, either, TBH. I think perhaps children should be able to wear whatever TF they like without having people telling them they are sexy, or perhaps that looking sexy is either good or bad - it's just a way to dress, entirely culturally and historically defined, and it doesn't really mean a great deal. I think. Perhaps.)

MmeLindt Tue 09-Feb-10 11:24:42

The Biker Jacket just reminds me of Grease, the transformation of the goody goody Sandy into the biker rock chick sex goddess.

Aside from the fact that it is plastic and wearing it would be like dancing in a sauna.

But appropriate and inappropriate means different things to different people obviously.

My DD does not wear smocked dresses and twee pinafores, she wears fashionable clothes, but I draw the line at some of the clothes available.

WeddingDaze Tue 09-Feb-10 11:27:32

What is wrong with the biker jacket? Other than the poor child looking like Bianca Jackson? grin Not a lot IMO how on earth can it be constued as innapropriate?

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