I was recently strolling the aisles of paradise (a.k.a. SuperTarget) scouting out summer clothes for my 2-year old daughter. I think Target rocks – it’s colorful, hip, cheap. But, when I saw what they were offering in the way of shorts for little girls, I was bowled over in the toddler section. My eyes rolled back in their sockets and I think the mother shopping next to me heard my audible sighs of contempt, of defeat.
I make conscious decisions about how I dress myself and my 2-year old daughter. I feel like I have to because our culture over-sexualizes our females, and unfortunately it’s rapidly trickling down to even the prepubescent set. American magazines, movies, and music videos almost exclusively speak the language of sex, and not the healthy, enjoyable, adult kind of sex but the exploitative, cheap kind of sex that victimizes our young ones.
Our young women (and men) are taught through all forms of visual media that sexuality is the most important characteristic of a young woman. They are shown that to be desired as a female, to get what you want, to have power, to have status, you must use your sexuality in any way possible. Forget brains, athleticism, leadership, or humor as powerful qualities that lead to success and popularity. Nope! Instead we are teaching young girls that you have to get skinny, get loose and show every curve and bump in your body to get what you want. When gals like Britney Spears, Anna Nicole Smith, and Paris Hilton (hyper-sexualized, vacuous figures in the spotlight because of marketing not talent) dominate our airwaves, we teach our girls and boys seriously flawed values.
So, off my high horse and back to my story. I was shopping for shorts. Target had some nice options but they also had the most ridiculous shorts I have ever seen for the toddler set. Hanging next to the bathing suits was a whole rack of thin knit shorts with the tiniest inseam you can imagine. I’ve seen tiny short shorts with non existent inseams at Old Navy for teens and that makes my stomach turn. But for toddlers – give me a break. A little girl couldn’t wear these minuscule shorts without her underwear and privates parts being exposed while climbing on the jungle gym or playing on the floor with her dolls. These are the kinds of shorts that teenage girls wear to look sexy shrunk down for preschoolers. Disgusting.
I hope more mothers and fathers get clear about what is happening. Clothing is one simple, but very visual way, we can teach our daughters and sons that their minds, their souls, and their spirits – not their bodies – are their most powerful charms. We must show our children that they are precious, spiritual beings to be cherished and honored. Apparently, the lessons have to start even earlier than I would have ever imagined.