April 20 2011
CNN.com features a serious, but humorously written column today from LZ Granderson. He's right on the money about the new sexy trends in children's clothing. Here's an excerpt:
I guess I've been out-of-the-loop and didn't realize there's been an ongoing stampede of 10-year-old girls driving to the mall with their tiny fists full of cash demanding sexier apparel.
What's that you say? Ten-year-olds can't drive? They don't have money, either? Well, how else are they getting ahold of these push-up bras and whore-friendly panties?
Noooo, couldn't be.
What adult who wants a daughter to grow up with high self-esteem would even consider purchasing such items? What parent is looking at their sweet, little girl thinking, "She would be perfect if she just had a little bit more up top."
And then I realize as creepy as it is to think a store like Abercrombie is offering something like the "Ashley", the fact remains that sex only sells because people are buying it. No successful retailer would consider introducing an item like a padded bikini top for kindergarteners if they didn't think people would buy it.
Ah yes, the free market. Supply and demand.
Granderson makes a good point: Parents are the ones with the money! The power of the purse means that, at the end of the day, Mom and Dad can say no to the bad decisions their kids want to make.
This works the same way with the decision to eat fast food for every meal, and yet we see parents trying to sue McDonald's for "exploiting" their children because Happy Meals are so awesome that Mom and Dad cannot tell their kids "no."
Can parents no longer stand up to their children in this country? Giving kids cute, sexy clothes and delicious French fries might satisfy them in the short run, but parents should think of the long term consequences. Granderson's commentary on sexily-dressed 7-year-olds ends on a somber note:
In 2007, the American Psychological Association's Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls issued a report linking early sexualization with three of the most common mental-health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. There's nothing inherently wrong with parents wanting to appease their daughters by buying them the latest fashions. But is getting cool points today worth the harm dressing little girls like prostitutes could cause tomorrow?
Like a lot of young adults, I can remember the not-so-long-ago frustration my parents caused me with rules like "No PG-13 movies until you are 13" or "Those jeans are too tight." But looking back, I am thankful that my parents let me - and at times made me - enjoy my childhood while it lasted. Every family can set its own standard for what's appropriate, but children can't always think of the long-term consequences. That kind of critical thinking is for parents to do.