Secure Enough to Not Be Sexy

My girls made me proud Monday night. They were secure enough in themselves to not be sexy. That’s a pretty bold move in a world where sexy is becoming the norm.

Halloween is one of those times where the pressure is on young girls to be sexy. If you don’t believe me, just Google “teenage Halloween costumes” and click on the first thing you see. I just did. Rows upon rows of the same, like the “Supergirl” costume pictured here (I’ve ranted about this before, girls are being pressured to dress too sexy too soon).

Well, this year my girls opted out of “sexy.” (More on that in a minute.)

We’re witnessing the symptoms of a society that values “sexuality” over other characteristics. It’s what the American Psychological Association defines as “sexualization.”

It starts with the normal feelings of insecurity.

“Am I pretty enough?”

“Do I measure up?”

These are the questions young girls ask themselves when they look in the mirror, touching up make-up, running the flat iron through their hair that one last time trying to make it perfect.  Any father of teen and tween girls has witnessed this. Even the most beautiful of today’s young girls often struggle with feelings of “too fat,” “too much acne,” “boobs too small”…

Enter “sexualization” stage left.

Sexualization is the media’s solution to insecurity. It works like this: guys notice me when I’m overtly sexual (low tops, short shorts, provocative in words and action), and being noticed is what I want, right?

It’s normal for young girls to want to be noticed. It’s up to parents to teach their daughters what is truly valuable.

This past weekend Lori and I went costume shopping with our girls. Have you been costume shopping lately? Today’s teenage girls don’t want to be a pumpkin or a clown. Costume retailers know that sexy is in. Skirts need to be short and tops need to be alluring.  That’s where my kids stepped away from the norm. I became aware of that fact the moment they asked me where to shop for their costumes. “Dad, can we go to the thrift store?”

This year my girls decided to be sweet little old ladies.

It was actually pretty fun shopping for “old lady” costumes. Alyssa (on the right) found the perfect “crafty” sweater and Ashley (on the left) the perfect comfy pants that went up past her belly button. Some glasses and ultimate comfy shoes… and whalah! Sweet little old ladies.

It will be interesting to see what our future holds. Will “sexy” stay the norm? Or will young people eventually grow numb and look for something else? A lot depends on the frequency and depth of the conversations that take place between kids and their parents or caring adult role models.

Hmmmmmm.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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9 Responses to Secure Enough to Not Be Sexy

  1. danette says:

    Two female youth workers I know dressed as Wenda & Waldo (Where’s Waldo?) – so cute! There’s no shortage of fun and funny ideas for girls who want to swim against the current. Thanks for your blog, J.

  2. Tim Blake says:

    Great post Jonathan. Every year the costumes get a little crazier. I’m sure you’re super-proud of your girls though, and their costumes are awesome! Good stuff!

  3. Paul Loeffler says:

    Excellent job on the costumes.
    Interesting note re: conversations on sexuality. My wife and I had a short discussion about how much I’m discussing sexual topics with my boys (14 & 12). She’s concerned that by talking so often (because of football especially, it’s about once every 7-10 days) about it we’re simply encouraging them to think about it. I explained to her again (and my pastor friend concurred when I mentioned it to him) that the issue isn’t how much they’re thinking about it – that’s finite: All The Time! The issue is whether they’re able to have their questions answered that come up because it’s in their face all the time – ads, news items, etc. And that’s just at home on the computer. My oldest attends the public high school, and played football this year. So, I will continue to have those conversations, answering their questions, and helping them to learn through word and deed how to respect and care for the opposite sex.
    I am glad I have boys, though. I can only imagine the stuff you have to deal with. I don’t suppose you’re into arranged marriages?

    • Paul… keep at it. You can’t talk to boys about sex too much. They are already thinking about sex soooooo much and hearing about it around every corner, they might as well hear some TRUTH about it from you. Keep up the conversations. Better yet, DVR (record) the football games and start watching them about 20 to 30 minutes after they begin. That way you have the freedom to pause and talk about things… and fast forward through Victoria Secret commercials!

  4. Kristie says:

    I have a 14 year old girl, a 13 year old boy, and a 12 year old girl. I only stumbled upon your blog last week, but have already subscribed, and will be going back through your past postings as well …. you articulate so well the things I struggle to explain to my own kids. “Why isn’t this nurses costume ok for Halloween?” …. um …. because it just isn’t!! (actually, I did a little better than that, but sometimes I do have a difficult time explaining why they shouldn’t dress or behave a certain way without sounding harsh ….) I appreciate the conversations that I think your blog will open up …. PS. We compromised …. sleazy nurses costume with opaque tights underneath the skirt instead of fishnet stockings, and cover-up camisole underneath the blouse. Converse tennis shoes instead of heels. And we removed the “Nurse Naughty” tag altogether. 🙂

    • ha… sounds like you did some good triage work to try to make that costume work. (I can’t believe the tag actually says “Nurse Naughty.” Wow.)

      Glad you enjoy the blog. Keep up those conversations!

  5. Nicole Jones says:

    This evening one of my friends showed me a preview for “Miss Representation.” As a forewarning for those who haven’t seen it, there are some intense and very provocative images (I’d give it a R rating at least). Jonathan, I’d be interested in your thoughts on this trailer and the film once it comes out.

    • I don’t know what direction the film will take (sometimes previews can be misleading), but the preview itself has some very powerful points that young women should consider. Man ARE objectifying women in these ways and women need to take a stand… which would require the Gagas and Katy Perrys to stop selling out and sexualizing themselves.