09 November 2008

Lingerie for Toddlers?! WTF??!

The subtle, (and sometimes not-so-subtle) sexualization of young girls is something that has been addressed better writers than I. But all subtlety has been blasted by this latest trend – lingerie for toddlers (!!!!!!) Last week’s issue of Maclean’s (a Canadian newsmagazine), has a story on bras, thongs, and and sexy nightgowns for the pre-pre-teen set. Let’s be clear – these are not dress-up clothes of the type you might find hanging next to the Disney princess dresses, plastic high heels, and fairy wings that you might find in the toy store. We’re talking padding and underwires, and retailers like Old Navy and TJ Maxx are actually marketing these as underwear, an alternative to the cartoon-character, cotton variety that most kids seem to be wearing. As article author Rebecca Eckler writes of her own daughter, for whom she purchased a bra in the name of research, “Thanks to the padding, she looked creepy – like a four-year-old going through puberty with budding breasts.”

Isn’t this just like inviting the creeps to view a little girl sexually?? I know this veers dangerously close to the argument that how a woman dresses can justify raping or otherwise assaulting her, which is just bullshit. But dressing a six-year-old like a sexually mature woman just seems like asking for trouble on so many levels. At the very least, I’m afraid that it forces a certain level of sexual maturity on our daughters that they are completely unequipped to handle.

This kind of thing freaks me the hell out. My own daughter, BabyA is only four months old, so this isn’t something we’ve had to deal with yet. But this kind of thing has me shaking in my boots. I want my daughter to have a chance to be a little girl, to play without worrying about the image she is projecting, to keep some innocence, at least for a little while. I already have a six-year-old niece, who manages to emulate the Bratz dolls in all their hip-thrusting, chin-jutting glory, complete with attitude, and every time I see it, it makes me a little sad. Where is the little girl?

When I was pregnant, I commented to a friend that I thought in some ways it would be much harder to raise a daughter than a son, because there are so many more minefield to try to steer girls through. My friend said that boys have their own set of difficulties to deal with, with the physicality and bullying and stereotypes of masculinity, etc. However, it seems to me that our society isn’t so eager to sexualize boys at such a ridiculously young age. I am wrong about this?? Give a newbie mom a bit of advice – how do you help your daughters deal with this shit??


  1. Wow. That's some heady shit, and kind of overwhelming to contemplate. My advice for now is to not worry about it now and enjoy being the mom of a baby -- just like she doesn't need to start worrying about being a woman and can just enjoy being the apple of your eye!

  2. Hmmmmm...
    as a new mom to a 6 month old son, i have to say -- I see a pedophile around every corner. It could just be media hype etc. but I do worry about the way people look at him. I reazlize girls are overlty sexualized at an early age, but I wonder, too, how ofen we (as a society) sexualize little boys. As a parent I would never buy a daughter the sexy stuff -- especially as a pre-teen. As a teacher I know 6th graders are having sex. As a member of socity I am appalled.

  3. You're not wrong about boys being prey for sexual predators, but I'm not so sure about them being 'sexualized' in the way that girls are. I don't see little boys in tight, skimpy clothing, etc., the way that girls are, at least not that I have noticed. Although I sometimes wonder if the mental sexualization at an early age isn't just as bad for boys as it is for girls - more subtle but just as damaging.