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How about parents try being parents?

Every now and then, we see some news article or column breathlessly warning us of the over-sexualization of young girls. They talk about media influences, pop stars who ooze tons of sex and very little talent, stores selling clothing more suitable for strippers than for seven-year-olds, toys and dolls that sell looks and image, magazines for women and now teenagers as well that scream sex at the checkout counter for every single grocery store you go to... the list goes on and on. They warn of how these things are having tragic effects on our young girls and teenagers, and how the market needs to change.

Today, I came across yet another one of these articles with this opener:

Thong panties for 7-year olds and padded bras for girls as young as nine are among the items many parents are purchasing at local stores.

The sexualization of girls is blamed mainly on media; music videos, magazine covers and the like.


It was accompanied by this picture and caption:

A padded training bra for girls as young as 9 years old is displayed after being purchased from Target Monday, Feb. 18, 2008.

But after opening with the norm, it quickly strayed:
... [R]esearchers and psychologists say it's the culture inside the home, a parents influence, that truly makes the difference.

"There is something to letting kids sleep in warm flannel pajamas instead of sexy nighties. It's about being a little girl and not a little girl being a woman," Dr. Anthony Brailow, a clinical psychologist with the Desert Behavioral Health in Apple Valley.

He said it's ultimately up to the parents and their acceptance of such clothing.

There needs to be an open dialogue between parents and children, said Brailow. It's not enough to just say no to certain clothing or toys, they need to sit down and explain why it is not appropriate, he said.

A study led by Dr. Eileen L. Zurbriggen for the American Psychological Association concluded that media messages are teaching girls to put an unhealthy emphasis on physical appearance. It's up to a parent to counteracts that message.

"It's up to you as a parent to guide your children and decide what is appropriate for them to wear and play with," said Miguel Hosey of Victorville who is the father of two girls ages 17 and 8 and a 2-year-old boy.


Gee, what a thought -- parents actually parenting!

Yes, it is well-known that sexualization of young girls is incredibly harmful. An APA task force released a press release last year showing that over-sexualization can lead to more mental health problems -- eating disorders, depression, low self-esteem -- as well as an unhealthy sexual and emotional self-image. It can also diminish their cognitive functioning.

Our daughters are being attacked from every angle. Consider this picture of supermodel Cindy Crawford's daughter, Kaia, modeling her mom's swimwear line topless, looking over her shoulder complete with a come-hither stare and lower back (temporary) tattoo:

Popular tween store Limited Too is a must-stop at the mall for girls between the ages of, say, 7 and 15, features bras and assorted panties -- from bikini bottoms to boy-cut shorts to thongs -- for little girls. Camisoles feature plunging necklines, skirts are short, and all the clothes in the store follow the fashions of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.

The Bratz empire is based around four dolls, but has grown into much more, with a TV series, games, and a movie. The dolls have abnormally large heads with big eyes, a tiny, upturned nose, and full lips (basically, every celebrity's plastic surgery dream), are usually dressed like hookers, with chokers, "Bad Girl" t-shirts, halter tops, feather boas, thigh-high fishnet stockings, and lace-up, high-heeled boots or stilettos. The Bratz dolls are centered around a love for all things superficial -- gossip, shopping, clothes, fashion, make-up... it's all about making sure your appearance is perfect, because that's the most important thing. Dressing up like your favorite Bratz doll is now a popular Halloween costume. At least Barbie could be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher... Bratz dolls seem like the Lindsays, Nicoles, and Paris' of the world -- kept girls who do nothing and aspire to nothing, except to be able to party and shop to their heart's content.

There's the Juicy Couture brand, which is not marketed towards young girls but is certainly popular with them. Its trademark is the velour track pants with "JUICY" stamped across the butt. T-shirts also often have "JUICY" stamped across the chest. Because, you know, its great for six-year-olds to prance around proclaiming that they have a juicy ass.

I don't even understand the new trend of "bratty chic" that seems to have taken over. I used to work as a manager in a tween store at the mall a few years back, and highly prevalent was this snobby attitude. Key chains, pillows, t-shirts... they all proclaimed similar messages -- things like, "Saw It. Wanted It. Stomped My Feet. Got It.", "Spoiled Rotten and Proud of It", and "It's MY Attitude, But It's YOUR Problem". It would floor me that parents would buy things like this for their twelve-year-olds, but they did -- in mass numbers.

Now, I'm not a parent. Maybe my opinion is less valuable because of that. But I cannot help but think that while, yes, it probably is incredibly difficult to be a parent in today's hyper-sexualized culture, ultimately the blame falls on the parents.

We live in a capitalist, free market society. Parents complain constantly about the over-sexualization everywhere, but who is it that is contributing to it? An eight-year-old girl does not usually have the money to buy herself a Bratz doll, thong underwear, and shirts screaming the words "LUSCIOUS" accompanied by two cherries across the chest. Parents are the ones buying these items for their daughters. Parents are the ones letting their daughters get swallowed whole by this culture. All of this is driven by profit. If no one bought these things, then companies would stop making them because it wasn't profitable. But millions of parents nationwide are buying these products for their daughters, so companies across the market keep churning them out. It's a gold mine. If it wasn't, then they'd invest in something else.

I never could understand why parents seem so blase about letting their daughters wear shirts that say "Flirt", "Porn Star", or one I saw that proclaimed, "So Many Boys, So Little Time", why they let them buy bras when they haven't even started developing yet, why they let them become sexualized so young. I just don't get it. Maybe it was the way I was raised. I wasn't allowed to wear a two-piece bikini as a kid, much less thong underwear and bras. Even as a senior in high school, if I wore an outfit too risque, my mom would make me throw it out, even if I bought it. I couldn't wear high heels or knee-high boots, let alone hooker heels and fishnets.

Get that? It's called parenting. Did I like it at the time? Hell no! I whined and complained and probably yelled a little, too. But she didn't cave, and I look back and thank her very much for not letting me dress and act like a little prostitute, even in high school.

Has it really become that much more difficult to say no? Again, I'm not a parent. And maybe I'm just looking too much at how I was raised. But I can't help but think that just because your kid throws a temper tantrum because they happen to really, really want that thong underwear doesn't mean you should give it to them. Parents should stop being their daughters' friends, and start being their parents.

Maybe, just maybe, if parents tried being parents, we wouldn't have to worry about the oversexualization of our daughters quite so much.


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Comments (32)

Two years ago I had a high ... (Below threshold)
patrick:

Two years ago I had a high school junior that had a shirt that read
movie $7:50
Dinner $20.00
seeing me with this shirt off- priceless
you may have a point

Oh, Cassy, Cassy, Cassy, wh... (Below threshold)

Oh, Cassy, Cassy, Cassy, where do I begin? You're asking people to actually exercise judgment and accept some kind of responsibility for their actions. Those are examples of old thinking that have no place in our current society. You should be focused on which corporation can be held responsible for these things. People have no choice in the matter, they cannot be expected to think for themselves. They need a government to do that for them. It's sad to see that even now we have people like yourself who cannot recognize that the future is now. If you're upset about this comment, please have your lawyer email mine, k?

Parents should stop bein... (Below threshold)

Parents should stop being their daughters' friends, and start being their parents.

Well, you've just hit the nail on the head. Parents want to be liked by their kids. They want to be their kids' best friends. While it's certainly understandable that parents would want their children to love them, that should not supersede their roles as parents.

The amazing thing is that, if parents actually man (or woman) up and be parents by setting limits and saying "no!" when they need to, their children are much more likely to grow up loving them. Go figure. I personally can't thank my parents enough for the limits they set for me. I shudder to think of what a self-centered, spoiled little brat I could've turned out to be.

You are not out of line and... (Below threshold)
Matt:

You are not out of line and will make a good Mom some day.
I must be a throw back of some kind though. My kids heard NO many times, even the occaisional Hell NO! They can even spell no phonetically and understand it in 4 languages.

By-the-way, I've never been their friend, just their Dad. I learned that from my parents.

I keep telling the little g... (Below threshold)

I keep telling the little guy that I'm a mean, evil and cruel Daddy. I make him wear my raincoat when walking him in to school, when he doesn't want to. I make him do his homework when he'd rather play. I don't let him eat all the junk food he wants, and insist on him eating his dinner. I insist he be responsible for his actions, make his bed in the mornings and fold his pajamas.

I tell him I am NOT his friend - I am his Daddy. Friends come and go - but Daddies are always there.

And he says I'm not cruel, evil or mean. Hah!

They are only children and ... (Below threshold)

They are only children and teenagers for a few years, be a parent then and by the time they are in their mid-20s, you'll have them as friends for the rest of your life.

You're not a parent Cassy? ... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

You're not a parent Cassy? Then you have no right to comment. Chickenmoralist! :)

"Because, you know, its gre... (Below threshold)
newton:

"Because, you know, its great for six-year-olds to prance around proclaiming that they have a juicy ass."

The sound you hear is that of sex offenders panting and licking their chops like the ravening wolves they are.

Unfortunately, too many parents don't think before they buy that whore-like clothing for their daughters. What happened to letting kids be kids? Childhood was such a great time for me: why would anyone want for their kids, and their little girls in particular, to grow up too fast?

Hear hear! And might I add... (Below threshold)

Hear hear! And might I add, "Brava!" So many parents throw up their hands when they shop with their kids and say, "She wanted it, and it's all there was in the store, so I bought it." As you said, parents of kids that age still control the pursestrings. So, it must be the parents driving this trend, because we all know that if there's a market for something, someone will make a buck off of it.

My store for tweens is an independent boutique, and I can't tell you how many parents tell me that they're relieved to shop somewhere where they don't have to argue with their kids (boys and girls) about what to purchase. We're not puritanical, but we don't carry Juicy Couture either (and yes, they do make kids' clothes too).

The only thing I'm going to... (Below threshold)

The only thing I'm going to disagree about is the padded bra. Now I *do* wish the "padded" was a little less so, but ladies, when you get your 10 year old or 12 year old a "bra" you want it to actually behave in a bra-like fashion... you want it to conceal their little boobies. Right? Little growing girl boobs have a certain growing boob shape and a "bra" that is thin fabric could just as well be thrown in the trash bin because your 10 or 12 year old's nipples are still going to poke through.

Shall I be graphic? Explicit?

I've dealt with a child going from an A cup to a C cup in her 11th year. No lack of padding is going to make a C cup look smaller than a C cup on an 11 year old. Sorry. True.

The padded foam bras might be a bit thick but they conceal *and* they have a nice smooth shape instead of seams and puckers. You want your little girl to have seams and puckers over her boobies? No, I didn't think so.

As for outer clothing... the *boys* section at Target works well.

And seriously, ladies. You... (Below threshold)

And seriously, ladies. You know that *you* don't buy a regular "padded" bra to look bigger. *You* buy that "padded" bra because it doesn't have seams and puckers and because you will NEVER be cold enough to be "nippy."

Remember high school?

Remember being "nippy?"

I think that we have progre... (Below threshold)

I think that we have progressed so far from being parents and placing our children on pedestals that we no longer understand age appropriate attire.

I mean we spent the 90's running to and fro and telling the kid whatever they desire and then, by the 2000's it is where we are.Kids are kids...we need to STOP sexing them up at age 5 in school with any type of sex ed to mommy's playing dress up with the children.

Parents need to be parents and raise their children not vise versa. We need one of the parents who created the child to be the one that raises the child, not daycare. We need to bring the role of child back into our vocabulary...and stop giving the kids so much crap...

I mean Cindy Crawford is a beautiful woman, so she places the kid out there as a model for her clothing...sick. Who is the pouty look for? When did we start whoring the girls by age 5-6?
And when did the rest of us stop caring?
Just my thoughts.

Re: Kaiauh, Cassy?... (Below threshold)

Re: Kaia

uh, Cassy?

from 1958

Darleen, the Coppertone ad ... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

Darleen, the Coppertone ad wasn't trying to be sexual in nature.

Little Kaia's "tramp stamp" just above her butt is recognized for only one purpose, and what mother would allow their kid to get one of those...?

I see this daily. I teach ... (Below threshold)
TGScott:

I see this daily. I teach 13-18 year-old girls who sometimes wear inappropriate clothing. I find more often than not that it's mama's problem; that she's actually wanting her child to be popular and attractive to the opposite sex. I hate to tell on a friend, but a friend actually asked her child after a church outing no less, "So, what cute boys did you flirt with?" At the time this child was 12 or 13. I'm thinking to myself, "She's going to get there fast enough without your help, Mama. Shut up!"

Cassy,This scares ... (Below threshold)
Apropos de Nada:

Cassy,

This scares the crap out of me. I have a 15 year-old son and a 13 year-old daughter.

What they see every day (on both girls and boys) would have been cause for suspension in both my junior and senior high schools.

I took by daughter to the Galleria in north Dallas two weeks ago. I knew it was trouble when I saw an (apx) 14 year-old girl walking around with her mom while wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with a large picture of a lollipop and the legend: "All-Day Sucker". Repeat: walking WITH HER MOM.

Adults have lost their minds/spines to allow this is their houses.

I spend time with my kids. I spend reasonable amounts of money satisfying reasonable requests. We've had the talks about their expanding authority over their own lives as they demonstrate (to me and their mother) the levels of responsibility to justify such.

There is no doubt about who is Dad and who is Mom. Unpopular? Sometimes, but it's what my Dad and Mom did for me. I love them deeply for doing so.

Keep your village away from my kids. It's MY responsibility, and I accept it.

I don't expect you to belie... (Below threshold)
conspiracy_brotha:

I don't expect you to believe we are all being led like a mule by an agenda, but have any of you actually read Marx's Communis Manifesto? It's highly vaunted by the intellectual elite - especially the likes of Hillary Clinton. Read for yourselves how free sex and the breakdown (actually, removal) of the family is a stated goal in the greater Communist scheme of things. This book was published 160 years ago. It reads as if it were published last year. Read it. You will see for yourself why we have what we see here today.
"Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class."
"The proletarian [that's us] is without property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with the bourgeois family relations." "Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices..."
"The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes..."

This all sounds so sweet when it rolls off the forked tongue of the intellectual apologist. But, then, why does our very human nature abhor it? Read the book. See what you're really up against. Educate yourselves!

As a soon to be parent and ... (Below threshold)

As a soon to be parent and a current youth minister that works with middle school and high school students, I applaud your article. It's really about time that parents start stepping up and making active decisions about what their daughters (and sons) are wearing. Every Wednesday night, we have our middle school youth program (at church mind you), and there are times, that we almost send some girls home. I find it hard to believe that a parent would see their 12 year old daughter dressing this way and think that it's acceptable.

Anyway, great job on making an excellent point.

Josh Boldman
http://www.joshboldman.com

Well, it is a vicious cycle... (Below threshold)

Well, it is a vicious cycle. Parents are people who usually have no formal training and were trained (by modeling) by people with no training on how to be parents. They basically have kids and then guess what? Those kids learn (my modeling) how to be parents from the same parents who learned from their ill equipped parents.

Some parents, do see the need to learn how to be good parents and humble themselves by taking parenting classes. I commend the church for taking this on as many do, therefore allowing many "churched" kids to turn out pretty good.

sure, the media plays a role, but responsible parents don't let their kids get influenced by the media. Specifically, they know what their kids are watching, or better are giving them alternatives to watching garbage by other useful activities.

Je confess!I am da w... (Below threshold)
Martine:

Je confess!
I am da woman.
I admit it (although my therapist was the one to point it out to me) --- I want my kids to ~like~ me. When those words hit my ears, I thought, "Absolutely not; that's not true."
But it was.
I am learning, slowly, how to care more about what's right than about pleasing my three children, but first I had to have a wake-up call.
Good luck getting hordes of mommies and daddies out there to see and admit their own part in this. It was definitely hard for me.
Also, consider the 40-year-old mom who still dresses like she's 20. I mean, even if you're a size six, should you really still be showing a bare belly as a mature woman? Let's get real, women: We've ALL adopted the mentality that our entire worth is in our sexuality.
God help us.

This kind of thing always a... (Below threshold)
JD:

This kind of thing always amuses me. Kids don't have to be sexualized, they are sexual beings whether you like it or not. The problem being spoken of here is the reversal of forcible DESEXUALIZATION, an attempt to make kids into idealistic, ignorant (or innocent as some like to spin it), asexual beings.

Asexualization is the mark of a society afraid of sexuality, and it only leaves young people unprepared, confused, rebellious, and ashamed of their own desires.

Sexuality is a part of reality. When it's not embraced, but is instead stigmatized and relegated to the back alley of society, then you will see results that smack of irresponsible behavior, as there is little realistic guidance toward responsible behavior.

Parents: When you tell your kid that expressing or feeling sexuality is wrong, then you basically tell your kid "you can't communicate with me about sex. Keep it secret from me."

agree with article. However... (Below threshold)
lolDude:

agree with article. However possible upside.

If someone would tell teenage girls that older men have lots of money, America would be great!

haha, and before you get your granny panties in a bunch, Think. This was for guy humor. I refuse to procreate. Furthermore, i bet you looked quite good in your Gloria Vanderbilt or Jordasche Jeans back in the day. YOU are guilty of tormenting men just the same. All girls do it if they can, and its just a matter of time before you are wearing jeans with a nine inch zipper.

Now when i was a teen, girls were not allowed to wear lipstick. Whatever changed peoples morals, beit TV, movies, bad parenting, I don't know.

In conclusion, don't worry. I would never touch your precious prostitute daughter. But it is really fun to lOOk, lol

thats why i like having boy... (Below threshold)

thats why i like having boys. i'll never have to deal with stuff like this. my sister on the other hand, is having a girl. but the way she dresses i'll wonder if she'll make her daughter wear the same thing just so she'll be "cool".

It is so screwed up that pa... (Below threshold)
Cat Johnston:

It is so screwed up that parents can be that stupid in thinking that letting their child look like a sex doll won't make them one. It's not important to look good all the time. I wore big t-shirts and glasses till 7th grade, I started wearing thongs this last yr and I'm a junior in high school now. Maybe once girls start having STD's before age 10 people will get the picture. Super modles don't have "real" lives.

I couldn't agree more with ... (Below threshold)
Jenna 211:

I couldn't agree more with the concept that personal responsibility is the problem here. It's time for parents to step up, but then again today's gen of parents (generation X) and were among the first to be raised with a focus on materialism and selfishness and "stepping up" to any type of responsibility has certainly NOT been our strong suit.

As a parent of two AND as a woman who works with probated sex offenders, I know that child sexualization is a real problem. However, in the eyes of a sex offender, all of the children they target were being provocative in some way, regardless of the child's age, how they dressed, and how they acted - it's just the way they distort what they see and want. I also know that child molestation was a problem looong before kids started dressing like miniature 21-year olds.

Having said that, I have to say, I agree *wholeheartedly* that kids need guidance and to be taught what is and is not appropriate - that's our freakin' JOB as parents, people!! Similar to the author, my mom would never let me wear heels, pantyhose, or makeup as a kid because she said that those things are for women - not kids - and that the purpose of those items was to make one look sexy, which is true! I can't even imagine what she would have said had I asked for thong panties or a pair of Juicy sweats!

Oh, just as a side note - I thought the pic of Kaia Crawford was horrendous - I have no doubt there have been many, many pedophiles who covet that girl and fantasize about her regularly. What was Cindy thinking? So sad.

I think when it comes to yo... (Below threshold)

I think when it comes to younger kids that parents have a huge responsibility. Don't buy bratz, don't buy barbie, don't by sexy clothes for your 10 year old. But I think society as a whole needs to stand up and voice their objection to the sexualizing of children. If people stop supporting the industry, it will diminish. But people think seeing kids do a sexy dance routine is cute or dressing like little adults, little sexy adults, is cute. Stop supporting and that will help end the problem. Good blog. It is disgusting.

It's not all about clothes;... (Below threshold)
none_given:

It's not all about clothes; sometimes parents wnating to be their kid's friend is about cars too :-(

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Columns/articleId=124526

http://www.theledger.com/article/20080129/NEWS/801290378/1374

It is a pet peeve of mine -... (Below threshold)

It is a pet peeve of mine - how young girls are growing up WAY to fast and Moms have got to wake up and do whatever it takes to stop it!!
My girl is 18 now and very level headed. I said NO many times to her plans and clothes etc. that were inappropriate. I was dubbed the "Fun Sucker" keeping her from having any fun. We laugh about it now.
I have a blog all about building better relationships with tweens to prevent them from being ruined by the crazy world we live in. Please visit and join in GoGoGlueGunFun>com

You are totally right! The ... (Below threshold)
volar:

You are totally right! The world is coming to an and or perhaps the beginning of the little girls with little clothing. It's absoluty rediculous!- These parents don't parent anymore. They want to be accepted by their children. But guess what? No matter what goes on the children do not have a say whether they accept their parents that's crazy! Parents are always parents and that's that.

i disagree because a parent... (Below threshold)

i disagree because a parent is a childs rolemodel and all they want is to be like there parents. but yet you cant just stop wearing your bra so your kid doesnt want one. so how do you deal with this situation? easy. JUST SAY NO! doesnt matter if you want to be your daughters BFF. YOUR the parent here! act like it! im a child and i found the answer. its not rocket science.

i disagree because a parent... (Below threshold)

i disagree because a parent is a childs rolemodel and all they want is to be like there parents. but yet you cant just stop wearing your bra so your kid doesnt want one. so how do you deal with this situation? easy. JUST SAY NO! doesnt matter if you want to be your daughters BFF. YOUR the parent here! act like it! im a child and i found the answer. its not rocket science.

i disagree because a parent... (Below threshold)

i disagree because a parent is a childs rolemodel and all they want is to be like there parents. but yet you cant just stop wearing your bra so your kid doesnt want one. so how do you deal with this situation? easy. JUST SAY NO! doesnt matter if you want to be your daughters BFF. YOUR the parent here! act like it! im a child and i found the answer. its not rocket science.




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