“In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.” -Cady, Mean Girls
Maybe it’s because I’ve been on shopping excursions with my two teenage girls…
Maybe it’s because I’ve read this entire report from the American Psychological Association (APA) about the negative effects of the “sexualization” of our young girls…
Regardless the reason, my heart breaks for our girls this Thursday. The pressure is on during Halloween for our teen and tween girls—the same pressure they face in the sexual rat race of the social network selfie. Forget creativity, intelligence or character. Only one characteristic matters…
Are you sexy?
I’ve ranted about this subject in Halloweens past, and this year I’ve noticed others chiming in with the same complaint: the Top 10 Too-Sexy Costumes for Kids, 9 Reasons to Boycott Slutty Costumes This Halloween, or NBC News asking how far is too far with sexy? Anyone perusing through a costume store this Halloween can’t ignore it. Halloween has morphed into the slutty holiday.
Check it out for yourself. Thumb through the Party City insert in your mailbox this week. Or do like many of our teenage girls do, browse online. When I jumped on PartyCity.com this is the first image I saw:
If girls click on the featured TOP WOMEN’S COSTUMES button, they’ll see options like these:
Perhaps the costumes for teens will be better. Give it a try. Choose teen costumes and you’ll see choices like these:
The fact is, manufacturers know sex sells. We’ve seen Miley work it, and experts tell us she’s a marketing genius for doing so. So why shouldn’t our teen and tween girls try on what all their female role models are wearing?
Girls know ‘sexy’ garners attention. For a young girl craving someone to notice her… a sexy costume might seem like just the right thing. Sadly, experts are finding girls not only disappointed with the results of these efforts, but also facing consequences in numerous areas. The APA report on “sexualization” mentioned above revealed, “sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality and attitudes and beliefs.” (For a detailed description of those consequences, read the entire report here)
Responding in a Healthy Way
Sadly, some parents overreact to these kinds of influences in their kids’ lives. They think the proper reaction is “over-reaction” or attempting to block the influences, swooping down to protect them from any harmful messages. This helicopter parenting style doesn’t work for two simple reasons: 1. Parents can’t protect their kids from everything. 2. If we make all the decisions for our kids, they will never learn how to decide for themselves.
The answer is frequent conversations pointing to truth. Just like author David R. Smith wrote in his recent article, Messing Up Sex, “Have the talk over and over and over again.” David isn’t alone in his recommendation. Most experts agree what used to be labeled “the talk” needs to be early and often. And some studies even show Dad’s advice to be key.
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SHOULD I JUST SMASH MY KID’S PHONE?