The Sexualization of Early Childhood

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!

children and gadgets

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.

High heel

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.

Fake face

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).

Boy and girl

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.

children and advertisement

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:


9 responses to “The Sexualization of Early Childhood

  1. Evita, You are absolutely right when you speak about the gadgets and media that promote sexuality in young girls. I immediately recalled a showed that I viewed 2 or 3 times, when you spoke about beauty pageants. The show was “Toddlers and Tiaras.” The parents (usually the mothers) made these 2,3, and 4 year old children to look much older than their age. Some of those costumes, for presentation, did not leave much to one’s imagination. I was appauled when watching these parents pushing these children in this type of situation.

    • Yes Melissa,
      the show actually leaving me with amazement how come a parent go far away to push their children to be something that sometimes they do not want to. In the show I can see the 3 years old crying a lot when her mom tried to put make up, dyed her hair and put the tiara on her.

      We can learn a lot from this show. Thank you very much for your great comments!

      Evita Kartikasari

  2. Evita,
    Thank you for all the information included in your blog. The idea of beauty pageants are horrifying for little girls. I can’t imagine dressing my own daughters up with make-up, hair extensions, and skimpy outfits. For the parents making this acceptable it is such a negative message to be passing on to young girls.

    • Hi Alissa,
      yes indeed, the beauty pageant that start from very young age ( as young 2 years old) sometimes too much for the children. The show really open our eyes of the reality that there are so many parents out there that will do anything to get the fame/money by ‘sacrificing’ their children.

      Thank you for your great comment!

      Evita Kartikasari

  3. Evita,

    Isn’t it disturbing what these young girls are being put through? I feel as if it is promoting sexuality entirely too young! For me, I feel it is making young girls feel as if they have to be “made up” instead of being proud of their natural beauty!! It is most certainly creating negative self image.


    • Yes Susan,
      I agree with you that the beauty pageant which start from the very early age as early as 2 years old-just like promoting “sexuality” entirely too young and teach these little girl how to be just “an objects” to be admired…

      Thank you for your great comment, Susan!

      Evita Kartikasari

  4. Evita,
    It is so true that parents are often unaware of inappropriate messages that children get from media and electronic gadgets. I believe it is very important that educators collaborate with parents and share any kind of inappropriate behavior they might see in the classroom. This should help parents keep their eyes open all the time and address that kind of behavior.

  5. Hi Jelena,

    our duty as the parent/teacher/educator nowadays is not getting easier because of the new challenge with the invention of the technology. Hopefully we are all always eager to seek the knowledge as well as the wisdom to encounter this changing and challenge and use the technology for the greatness of humankind.

    Thank you for your great comment!

    Evita Kartikasari

  6. Evita,
    Parents need to pay better attention to what they are letting their children watch on television and what they are buying for their children. Many parents are forcing their children to get older also by dressing their children in particular clothes.

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