What Choice Do I Have In Explaining ‘Sexy’ To My Little Girl?

In a hyper-sexual culture that markets sex directly to young children, parents are forced to explain adult concepts at ages we never dreamed of. When I first became a parent I never dreamed I’d be having conversations about sexiness with my 8yo almost-third grader. But I am, because I’d rather she get our family’s definition than that of the marketers.

The most popular fashion dolls in 2014, marketed directly to young girls.

The most popular fashion dolls in 2014, marketed directly to young girls.

Blog Comment (Judgement) left by Helga P: “8-year-old going on 25. Third grade teacher is going to have loads of fun redirecting conversations with this girl withal all her talk of sexiness.”

PPBB Response: “Helga – No, actually my daughter is 8 going on 9. I’ve been forced to explain topics to her I didn’t think we’d approach until middle school, but our hyper-sexualized culture made it impossible to ignore or hide from. She is a very intelligent child who asks insightful questions so I felt it was best to answer them with the information she was looking for. Most kindergartners these days know the word “sexy”, I am a parent who decided to inform my child what it actually means so that I can teach her that “sexy” isn’t for kids, despite it being constantly marketed to them.

I cannot raise my daughter in a bubble, but I can make sure she is brought up to think critically about media, to have a strong body image, and to receive an education about sex and sexuality that is both sex positive and age appropriate.”

 

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Your Place Or Mine? Big Words For A Little Girl

Last night Mr. Pigtail Pals and I took the kids to our county fair. One of their favorite spots is the corn pit (think sandbox but with corn kernels) so we chatted while sitting on a nearby hay bale while the kids swam and rolled around in eight inches of corn. He brought up a group of girls he had seen earlier in the night, and was disturbed by the clothes they were wearing. He said they were approximately 12 or 13 years old. He described their outfits: micro shorts and revealing t-shirts and tank tops. He said he noticed them when Amelia read one of the shirt logos out loud while they were standing by group, the shirt said “Your place or mine?”

“Those are big words for a little girl. Hope she understands the message that saying conveys.” -I said of the girl wearing the shirt.

“She didn’t even look old enough to babysit the kids, but was wearing that shirt. Her friend had on another one with an equally sexual message. It made me feel really sad for her. The thing that t-shirt said most loudly to me was that on first impression wearing something like that at that age, she didn’t have a lot of respect for herself. Why would you present yourself that way at a public event? If she were grown it would be a little different, but she looked like a child trying to be a woman. It was really disturbing, really out of place.What kind of guy is going to approach a twelve year old and hit on her so that she can ask ‘Your place or mine?’ Either one who is a predator or one who won’t respect her. Shouldn’t she be running around having fun with her friends and giggling about a cute boy or first kiss or something? Instead of offering one night stands with a t-shirt? It made me think of Amelia, five or six years from now, hanging out with her friends at the fair. That is just a few years away, but this group of girls made it feel like another world away,you know? It was shocking to see such young girls dressed like that. I think most of all, I just wanted to hug her and tell her she was worth more….I hope all this time you spend on the business, your book, I really hope parents wake up and take better care of their girls. That shirt seemed dangerous in a way…” -Mr. PP trailed off, and watched his little girl wearing a “Full of Awesome” tee dumping buckets of corn kernels on her little brother.

7yo Amelia playing in the corn pit, just five years younger than the girl wearing the "Your place or mine" t-shirt.

Are girls ready to leverage a “Your place or mine” comment at someone when they are in junior high? Do they have the social skills needed to navigate the world of sexual come ons and sexual experiences? Or are they biting off more than they can chew? At that age, isn’t “my place” their parent’s house? Would they have the means to obtain birth control, or even the knowledge to require their partner to use it? Are they wearing that kind of tee to be rebellious and a bad ass, or because they are desperate for external validation? Both? Is it an expression of sexual empowerment or self objectification? Is that shirt an expression of authentic, youthful sexuality or corporate sexualization?

When I was her age, I was hoping a boy would kiss my cheek at the top of the Ferris wheel and hold my hand. But that was during a time when young girls were allowed to stay young girls and not rushed into a faux version of adulthood in order to pad some corporation’s bottom line.