Is There Any Turning Back?

This statement popped up yesterday in the convo about the sexualization of girls and one mother’s post about her realization she was complicit to the very thing she was against:

“Unfortunately, those parents who allowed themselves to be silenced, who accepted the sexualization of their daughters, who said “sure, thongs and shorts that say ‘Juicy’ on the rear are totally appropriate for my 9 year old” are the reason the rest of us have few or no options. When it stops making money, or there are proven ways that are better at making money, then other options will become available.” -Cyd Smith, PPBB Community Member

I think about this a lot, and wonder and try to understand what the parents in the mid-90’s and early 2000’s were doing and thinking. I was a nanny at that time, and I can remember my college friends and I being blown away by the advent of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, Spice Girls and Bratz. I can remember us asking each other what in the world parents were thinking. I saw the families I nannied for struggle with how sexualized girlhood had suddenly become.
Then and now, I wonder, how did this happen? How did parents allow this? How is a scantily-clad gyrating teen girl performing on the Disney channel okay? How has a line of 9 inch dolls dressed like what most people would describe as a streetwalker been on the shelves for eleven years? How did little girls clothing morph into this inappropriate quasi club-hopping teen/adult look?

The sexualization of childhood has made huge amounts of money for companies. It truly has left us with fewer options as companies became less creative because, “Hey, if sex sells, sell it. The parents are buying it, so it must be okay”.

But we shouldn’t be buying it, and there is enough information out there now that parents can and should be doing better. I don’t necessarily need my kids to grow up inside a Norman Rockwell poster, but I refuse to accept the Pussycat Dolls version of girlhood. I just wonder, is there any turning back?


  1. mother-to-be says:

    Exactly the question to which I’d like an answer – among others! I’ve been reading what I can find on this and related topics, but I still can’t understand why most parents seem to go along with the commercialisation of childhood, especially as it affects little girls. I wondered whether it was because the current (anti-feminist) pressure on women/mothers means that women end up caring more about the public display of motherhood (because that’s where the pressure lies) than they do about the well-being of their children. One often hears women suggesting that feminism will take something away from them as mothers, or runs counter to good mothering – which seems very short-termist to me, since their little girls will soon be grown women badly needing rights and equalities that only feminism can supply. So who is it who has so successfully introduced the idea of the ‘girly’ girl, the antidote to the independent, equal, self-confident (read: feminist) girl? – and why have so many women/parents embraced it?

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