One thing that excited me about having daughters rather than sons is the variety of clothes and clothing accessories I could buy for them. Ang babaw, I know. But, really, shopping for them excited me endlessly — and my husband often complained that they would outgrow all the clothes in no time. But I felt that they won’t be children forever.
The thing is, I made sure that they looked like children when they were children rather than miniature adults. I know a lot of moms who dress up their little girls in tiny versions of the latest women fashion and I just feel that, in a way, it is cheating the children of part of their childhood. There will be time enough for them to dress as adults when they become adults, not before.
I am especially bothered by moms who dress up their girls like starlets — heeled sandals, funky belts, fake jewelry, tube tops and mini skirts, black tops and tight jeans. Okay, maybe, it’s really matter of fashion preference. But when I watch the same girls gyrating, with the parents’ encouragement (and matching “Ang galing sumayaw!“), a la Viva Hot Babes or Sexbomb dancers, I can’t help but feel that there is something wrong although I never could come up with a term for it.
Well, someone did. It’s called sexualization.
Sexualization was defined by the [American Psychological Association] task force as occurring when a person’s value comes only from her/his sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is sexually objectified, e.g., made into a thing for another’s sexual use. [Lifesite]
It can lead to a lack of confidence with their bodies, depression and eating disorders.
View the full report.
A huge chunk of sexualization is rooted in media’s representation of women. We can all become part of an advocacy to change media culture or we can start by re-orienting our daughters’ image of themselves.
Girls get this message repeatedly: What matters is how “hot” they look. It plays on TV and across the Internet. You hear it in song lyrics and music videos. You see it in movies, electronic games, and clothing stores. It’s a powerful message.
As parents, you are powerful too. You can teach girls to value themselves for who they are, rather than how they look… [“What Parents Can Do“, APA website]
What APA did not mention, and which I think is just as important, is for us mothers to set a good example to our daughters.