“Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons.” ~ Author Unknown
(The following excerpt from Girls Need Childhood To Succeed As Adults by Jill P. Weber, Ph.D., appeared on psychology today.com on August 6, 2013. To view it in its entirety please click on the link below.)
The ongoing sexualization of girls has the attention of many organizations today. The work they do to slow the onslaught is important and no doubt is spreading some hesitation about the wisdom of dressing little girls to look like miniature adults.
And yet all too often, it may come to a surprise to parents when their 13-year-old starts over applying makeup and dressing in an adult manner. What was play dress-up the day before becomes the day after, it can seem, a self-image that is not age appropriate. Trouble mounts when a pre-adolescent or teenager’s adoption of a grown-up look comes with an attempt to model grown up behaviors.
Intellectual growth and emotional maturity require childhood. And however they dress, 13-year-old girls are not emotionally mature. That takes time, experience and freedom to be authentically themselves. Always skipping ahead limits a girl’s development, makes her feel as if her life is a role scripted by someone else and leaves her with problems that follow into adulthood.
The American Psychological Association says sexualization occurs when:
1. A person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics.
2. A person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy.
3. A person is sexually objectified– that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making.
4. And or, sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.
This outcome doesn’t happen all at once. It is the result of an accumulation of observations and experiences that may begin when girls are very young.
More than brands, fashion is about symbolism. It is time well spent when parents and others help girls to critically sort out what those symbols mean, along with how and why they are promoted in advertising.