Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Sexualization of Early Childhood

So this specific topic brought back some stories that my now 12 year old daughter told me when she was in elementary school.  When she was in fourth grade she told me that one of her friends was dating a boy in the 4th grade and that both of their parents would take turns taking them out on dates!?!?!?!  I was beyond shocked, I was like parents consenting to taking their fourth grade children out on dates. My parents wouldn't even let me date until I was 15 years old. Even at 12 having boys as friends, I was looked at crazy.  I wasn't even allowed to wear makeup until I was 15 years old.  My now 9 year old when she was in 1st grade she had a classmate whose mother let her wear foundation, eye shadow, mascara, lipstick and blush to school...FIRST GRADE!!! I was like really, is this what parents are allowing these days. I won't even let my oldest wear colored lip gloss, it has to be nude, the only thing it better do is shine and moisturize.

When you see images such as these in fashion magazines, little girls dressed like grown women and wearing more make up than I do on a daily basis, it is really sad to see this.  Why would parents subject their children to this form of subjection. The show on TLC "Toddlers and Tiaras," is a show that I refuse to watch, I have friends who watch and talk about it but some of the pictures and commercials I have seen of these little girls in pageants really hurts my heart.  What type of message is this showing our children, that we have to look a certain way to be pretty and accepted.  Another thing that I do not agree with is the social media videos of parents posting their little girls twerking and girating and thinking that it is cute.  I have seen little girls with more weave than I have every wore and I don't even let my own children wear hair extensions, because they have their own beautiful hair that is theirs and natural. The authors of the article, "So Sexy So Soon,"  made a point that parents are blamed and made to feel at fault if their child is sexualized, but even when you try they are still exposed to it (Levin & Kilbourne, 2009). I am one of those parents that no matter how hard I try I still get questions about "what this is?" and "what does this mean?" and "why would my friend say this?" and "what did my friend mean by that?" or lets not forget the movies that have those hidden jokes that only parents would understand and children are like, "what was so funny?"  

Luckily my daughters are a lot like me, we embrace our individuality and have very high self-esteem. I teach my daughters that what others think of them is not important because they know who they are and they have to be happy with who they are at the end of the day. I also teach my daughters to be themselves, leaders and not followers.  My 12, soon to be 13 year old is like any normal preteen but she loves fashion, and she has her own unique style that I do love and encourage and it doesn't involve her showing any skin, or caking on makeup. I believe if we teach our children to be individuals and let them know they are loved, and are beautiful just the way they are and that it is all about self-worth that our children will be able to tell the difference and know that what is being shown on tv is purely unrealistic and not the norm for the majority.  We are living in a world where sex sells and companies will do what they have to do no matter who it affects and how it effects children. Advertising agencies and reality tv do not care how what they show is negative as long as what they are selling sells.  

As professionals in the field, we have a hard job as it is and to make sure that the children we teach are getting a solid foundation we have to make sure we are partnering with our parents and talking with them.  If we see something in class that concerns us, that we know a child either heard or seen, we must bring it to the attention to the parent so that we can understand what is going on at home.  Being an observer I have observed some very interesting dramatic play, and usually it isn't harmful, but sometimes we hear things that we should not from a 4 or 5 year old. When I hear a child sing songs that i wouldn't even sing I immediately have to address it and let the child know that the song is not appropriate and explain to them why it is not a child friendly song. I have had those difficult conversations with parents, and at times the parents didn't see any harm in it, but when I addressed the fact that their child can sing word for word a song they should not be listening to but can not recite their letters, or sounds then that light bulb goes off in their head.  Communication is key in reducing the negative effects this current society may have on our children in this oversexualized world we live in.


Levin, D.E., & Kilbourne, J., (2009).  So sexy so soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents 
   can do to protect their kids (pp.1-8).  New York: Ballantine Books.

1 comment:

  1. Comesha,
    Great post! I agree that it is hard enough trying to get children on the right track in our classrooms, but now we have to make sure that they aren’t exposed to sexual things. It is so sad that children are subjected to hair weaves, and makeup at such an early age. As parents and as teacher we need to keep the line of communication open at all times. Allow children to ask questions and feel comfortable without judgment. Parents should monitor what they children watch and hear. Children are so innocent until we make them feel as if they have to fit into society’s crazy shenanigans.