Sexualization of Children: Let's Teach Girls They're More Than a Pretty Face by Rae Pica

5 years ago

Sexualization of Children: Let's Teach Girls They're More Than a Pretty Face

Sadly, there are many studies showing that for girls, appearance determines their value. Worse, a girl's appearance is more often – at younger and younger ages – being defined by how sexy she is.

And there's more: Half of all 3- to 6-year-old girls worry about being fat, nearly half of 6- to 9-year-old girls wear lipstick or gloss, and the sexualization of children has led to eating disorders in those as young as 6. Children also rank body image among their highest concerns. What were your highest concerns when you were 6? Mine were having enough time to play and trying to master the cartwheel.

Parents and other adults play an important role in helping young girls grasp that they are more than how they look, and it starts with how they talk to girls. Our first inclination upon seeing a girl is to tell her how pretty/cute/adorable she is, or that we love her dress/hair/shoes. It's hard not to! But if we instead talk to girls about their interests, they'll come to believe that it's not their appearance that matters most.

So, ask a girl her thoughts on a book she's recently read, her favorite sport or even the day's weather. She'll be happy to tell you what she thinks!

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Elisa Schmitz
"Parents and other adults play an important role in helping young girls grasp that they are more than how they look, and it starts with how they talk to girls." You are so so right, Rae Pica . Many thanks for this important post. We need to do so much better for our girls!
Rae Pica
Thanks, Elisa. I appreciate the feedback.
Rae Pica
Just came across a quote from Marilyn Monroe: "All little girls should be told they are pretty." While I appreciate that she was probably being protective of girls who don't necessarily feel pretty, I'm not sure being pretty worked out so well for her. :(
Elisa Schmitz
Very good point, Rae Pica . This quote from Audrey Hepburn has always stuck with me: "For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone."
Rae Pica
Oh, yes, much better!
Mike Prochaska
Yes!! I never realized this till I had a daughter
Rae Pica
Tell us more, Mike! What have you noticed?
Sheri B Doyle
Rae Pica Thank you so much for this post. I am broken hearted over these statistics because I know how true they are. The other thing is that they follow girls through to adulthood, or until they face them and learn to overcome them. I think we need to be careful about our choices in television, shows, movies, books and magazines as well. It is also important that as women we are very careful about what we say in front of girls and boys. It is easy to make an offhanded comment about needing makeup to cover up flaws or feel beautiful because we know it is a sarcastic joke but they don't, they hear the words and see the action and believe.
Your suggestion for other topics to talk to girls about is fantastic! Thank you
Rae Pica
Thanks for weighing in on this, Sheri! The points you make are so important. And, yes, we must be aware of how we speak in front of boys as well!
Joe Campbell
Media and business push a form of attractiveness that is so narrow, not too many of us fit into that form and even when we do, we probably won't be there long. I think the really attractive people I am around are not just skinny women with big boobs. The people I find most attractive are people who genuinely care, people whose smiles reflect their inner sensibility, people who shine with kindness. I think it is so important for any person to feel attractive. It is a basic human need. That is why media and business are able to exploit people all day long with this product or that product, and that's why this gets pushed on girls at such a young age.
Rae Pica
No argument here, Joe! Too much of what goes on in our lives is driven by the media and marketers!
Julio Caro
Thanks For Sharing....

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