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The Over Sexualization of Little Girls

| February 21, 2011

sexualization of girls

Today, you can see 4 year old self-proclaimed divas with spray tanned abs, fake teeth inserts, wigs with the biggest Texas hair imaginable, enough makeup to make them look 10 years older, throwing tantrums, and hitting their mothers on the popular show Toddlers & Tiaras.

Today, you can see 7 year olds in dance competitions wearing lace bustieres and hotpants, bending over, grabbing their chests and grinding on a stage in such a sexually aggressive manner it looks like something you’d see from an exotic dancer.

Today, you can read about 7 year olds wanting to be sexier, thinking they need to diet because they’re too fat or in the December issue of French Vogue posing like sex vixens, in what some are calling pedocouture.

Today, little girls think they need cell-phones at 8, should start dating boys at 7, and look up to stars like Miley Cyrus who make lap-dancing, sexting pictures, and drug abuse cool.

Some say the times are more evil and that’s why they’re this way but when I see these over-sexualized little girls I can’t help but wonder: “Where’s the mother that’s supposed to be teaching her daughter that physical beauty isn’t what’s important and her sassy attitude isn’t acceptable behavior? When little girls’ outfits show everything and they wear makeup, making them look like teenagers, where are the fathers saying no and protecting their little girls from the lustful eyes of men and boys? What can parents do to prevent the over-sexualization of their daughters?

1. Help Preserve Inward Beauty

So much of the influences on young girls emphasize physical beauty. Everything they watch on TV, see on magazine covers, and experience among their peers is judgment based on outward appearance. They’re constantly being told by the world that their worth and potential popularity is based on how pretty they are.

By letting them be involved in beauty pageants at young ages, letting them dress like their favorite Disney Channel pop star, and even by stressing over your own weight in front of your daughter, parents are teaching daughters to place their worth in being pretty or skinny. We must instill in them and show by example that God desires an inner beauty which is what actually makes a girl beautiful (1 Pet.3:3-4).

Teaching them to perform or act for the approval of others teaches them to place value in the glorification of sinful man, not the glorification of a holy God. It teaches them to seek the compliments of guys and do whatever they have to do to secure the world’s affections. Parents are the God-given guides to show them their true worth lies in Christ and in having a beautiful heart, not in boys, clothes, or beauty, which fade with time (Prov. 30:31).

2. Help Preserve Sexual Purity

Why do we even need to teach our 6 year olds about sexual purity? Aren’t they too young to even know about those kinds of things? I used to think girls and boys didn’t experience sexual peer pressure until middle or high school. But now you read news stories about 2nd graders having oral sex and, shockingly enough, 5 year olds being asked to have sex by their classmate.

God places a huge emphasis on maintaining sexual purity and fleeing from situations that have even a hint of sexual immorality (1 Cor. 6; Eph.5:3). As their earthly guardians, parents are the ones in charge of protecting our daughters from sexually themed situations and protecting their hearts and minds from things they can’t comprehend fully or handle emotionally. Young girls today are bombarded with sexual images and messages that can do major psychological damage if parents aren’t there to censor and protect them.

Author and speaker, Vicki Courtney, shows exactly why parents need to fight against the sexualization of their daughters:

  • Cognitive and Emotional Consequences: Sexualization and objectification undermine a person’s confidence in and comfort with her own body, leading to emotional and self-image problems such as shame and anxiety.
  • Mental and Physical Health: Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women — eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed moods.
  • Sexual Development: Research suggests that the sexualization of girls has negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.*

When little girls are over-sexualized at any stage, it gives them a false sense of maturity and independence. It makes them think they’re older than they are, know better than their parents, and that they’re ready for things far beyond their years. It makes little girls grow up too fast.

3. Disciple and Teach Them in the Lord

God’s called parents to do 2 main things: (1) Discipline in the Lord and, (2) Teach the Lord’s instructions (Deut. 4:9-10; 6:6-10; 11:18-19).  God’s made parents an authority, to act on His behalf (Prov.13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15, 17). It’s for her protection and to help preserve her innocence, for her to know God has a standard for her behavior.  As God shows His children grace, mercy, and discipline, so are parents to follow His example with their children.

As Tedd Tripp (Shepherding a Child’s Heart) states, “Discipline is not you working on your agenda, venting your wrath toward your children; it is you coming as God’s representative, bringing the reproofs of life to your son or daughter.”

Parents, not the church, teachers, or a friend’s parents, control what their daughters watch, what they wear, and how they act.  They’re the ones given the charge of teaching their children the Lord’s instructions because they have the most influence from the very beginning. A child’s mind is like a sponge soaking up everything it’s taught at a young age. Your daughter will soak up all the ways the Lord’s instructed for her to be God-glorifying, obedient and full of wisdom (Prov.22:6).

If parents don’t help preserve their daughter’s innocence, who will? If parent’s don’t help protect their daughters from the consequences of sexualization, who will?  Of course, we want to make them happy, give them what we didn’t have, and we never want to harm them – but God knows children need guidance, instruction and boundaries.  Parents love their daughters by saying no to miniskirts, by not allowing your 8 year old daughter to call a boy in her class, by teaching her that a “I don’t care what you say, Mom” attitude is not pleasing to the Lord.

Girls, like those on Toddlers & Tiaras, that are throwing tan
trums, calling themselves divas, and saying to their mothers “I can do whatever I want” will grow up to be women who are brash, conceited, self-worshiping, and find value in their sexuality. They will be the queens and princesses on the throne of their heart, unless they let God become ruler of their hearts.

When girls are taught the ways of the Lord from an early age, they’re more likely to become respectful, gentle, kind, and God-fearing women. They won’t be filled with vanity or rivalry but with concern for others (Phil.2:3). When girls are taught to be modest, virtuous, and remain sexually pure as a way of glorifying the Lord, they’re more likely to be godly women. Ultimately a girl will make the choice to put God on the throne or not but until that time comes, it’s a parent’s job to give her the wisdom of God’s teachings, show her who God is, and help protect her.

*“Sexualization of Girls is Linked to Common Mental Health Problems in Girls and Women — Eating Disorders, Low Self-Esteem, and Depression,” February 19, 2007,http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2007/02/sexualization.aspx.

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