How Do Girls Tell the Difference Between “Little Girl Cute” and “Sexy Cute”?

How do young girls tell the difference between “little girl cute” and “sexy cute”?

They don’t.

Because we continue to blur that line between adult sexuality and childhood. We infantalize grown women and sexualize young girls so that in our culture being a female is a continuum of time, energy, and brain power focused on looking sexy and establishing our worth from our success at that endeavor.

Girls begin to have a difficult time understanding what their girlhood should look like because we continue to allow the sex industry to market itself to children. Pornography has become mainstream, and mainstream includes your grade school girl. From sexualized fashion dolls to suggestive clothing for pre-teen girls to Playboy appearing in the 2011 children’s movie “HOP”, mixing porn and people who still believe in the Tooth Fairy isn’t new.

We sell adult sexuality to kids to the point it is so commonplace many people fail to see it and when it is pointed out, they blanch and make excuses for what is right in front of them.

This pairing of Hello Kitty and Playboy includes toys, child-like notepads, and candy. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

Hello Kitty and Playboy collaborate for French retailer Collette.

Hello Kitty and Playboy collaborate for French retailer Collette.

Our kids do not have the capacity to rationalize these things yet, they just soak in the messages that the strongest social currency a girl can have is to be seen as sexy by the male gaze. Girls very quickly pick up the idea their value will come from being sexy, to the exclusion of any other quality, skill, or positive characteristic they possess.

Boys will learn the message girls are expected to be sexy and will be trained by society to see them as objects rather than agents. Could it be argued this removal of taboo between little girls and adult sexuality allows for a desensitization to take place for men and boys to see young girls as willing sex partners and/or sex objects? We need more research on that, but in the meantime, are you willing to take that gamble with your daughter and her girlhood? Go ahead and Google “Japanese school girl hentai” (NSFW) and let me know what you think as far as the blurring of taboo not being an issue for actual living girls. Just remember, once you see it you can’t unsee it.

Girls will hold themselves to these narrow standards and when they do not measure up many develop emotional damage from a buffet of choices: poor self esteem, negative body image, poor school performance, disordered eating and eating disorders, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and sexual promiscuity that disregards their personal safety.

One can argue a brand is free to do what it wants with its products. Hello Kitty is brand that aggressively licenses out designs and earns Sanrio $5 billion a year. The brand was originally aimed at pre-adolescent, including school supplies, toys, t-shirts, and jewelry. Children’s television series were created at one time. Introduced in 1974 in Japan (1976 in the US) Hello Kitty quickly became a mainstay in Japanese kawaii pop culture (the love of all thing cute and child-like). In the 1990’s Sanrio recognized a large adult market and capitalized on that with Hello Kitty purses, wine labels, condoms, and vibrators.  One can argue this unholy alliance between Hello Kitty and Playboy is not a big deal because the Collette merchandise isn’t available in the USA. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Playboy make a move on child-friendly products.

The character Hello Kitty is herself a school-aged girl, bright and kind with a twin sister named Mimmy. Playboy does love twins. And now they love little school girls.

Yes, Hello Kitty has adult fans. Almost all children’s media does. Have you seen what they’ve done to My Little Pony recently?

Yes, perhaps the argument could be made that Playboy and Japanese school girl hentai have their places in adult sexuality. 

When the brand makes a point to make the launch party more PG they very well know children are a huge part of their targeted marketing and the end user of a huge majority of their products. But there is money to be made and that is the end all, be all right?

My question is, how valuable do we hold our daughters’ childhoods and their right to not have that precious time confused with adult sexuality and the exploitative nature of pornography?

Hello Kitty, usually a child's playmate is now Playboy's latest Playmate.

Hello Kitty, usually a child’s playmate is now Playboy’s latest Playmate.





  1. Will no longer be buying any Hello Kitty merchandise.

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