The Sexualization of Early Childhood
With all of the gadgets that become more and more easy to access as well as the television, from a very early age, children nowadays growing up surrounded and bombarded with graphic messages about many matters in life in the media and popular culture-sometimes it is not appropriate for the young children at all!
For instance is the message about what kind of toys that children play, kind of ‘good’ food to eat, dress or clothes to wear, and many more we could find it very influencing the children in the advertisement. It really needs a wise consideration as the parent to realize it when particularly the media try to market their product- by influencing children with the highly sexualized images with sexy clothes, make-up, and very thin body.
This thought has evoked my memory of the show I ever saw in the TV about a reality show that follows the children (as young as 2 years old-and most of them are girls!) who are beauty contestants in beauty pageants. The parents tried to put the heavy make-up for their children, fake fat hair, their skin was getting sprayed on tans, wearing high-heel, wearing dresses that resembles the adults… and many more.
For sure, these little girls look gorgeous and pretty… but personally I just sensing that there is something not natural for these little girl to be in this process. I can sense that the little girl was taught to have a narrow definition of feminity and sexuality… that encourages girls to focus heavily on appearance and sex appeal. Children from the very young age already learn that their value is determined by how beautiful, thin; “sexy” they are (Levin & Kilbourne, 2009). Unfortunately, this is not just impacted the girls, but it has the impact to the boys as well. The boys, who get very narrow definition of masculinity that promotes insensitivity and macho behavior, are taught to judge the girls based on how close they come to an artificial, impossible and shallow ideal (Levin & Kilbourne, 2009).
With the growing and development of the more sophisticated and easy access of the gadget, media, online games and television right now-children nowadays would encounter this issues at much younger and younger ages, long before they have the ability to understand or deal with them (Levin & Kilbourne, 2009). This fact would leave us the parent feeling hopeless not to be able to cope with the fast changing trends in the society, which is very different from their generation before.
Being exposed with the topic of sexualization this week in my study makes me realize that we are the parents need to realize that inappropriate images and influences are everywhere-sometimes inevitable and unstoppable. Parents as well as the families in their society and the early childhood educator could make a great collaboration to raise the awareness how the best deal with this issue in the development of our children’s healthy self-identity.
Brunei Darussalam, 12 October 2013
Levin, D. E., & Kilbourne, J. (2009). [Introduction]. So sexy so soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids (pp. 1-8). New York: Ballantine Books. Retrieved from: http://dianeelevin.com/sosexysosoon/introduction.pdf