I was walking through the grocery store the other night when my ears caught the sound of a small child saying the word "sexy". I think it should always grab our attention when small children speak of adult things. It didn't seem to catch anyone else off guard, not even the dad who was lingering in the meat section. The voice belonged to a little girl, adorable in her glittery star shirt and boots. I would guess she was about six years old, talking with her older brother who was around eight. This is the picture they were looking at.
The little girl was pointing to the young blonde girl in the middle picture. "Do you think she's sexy?" she asked. "I think she's sexy." The young boy looked at the ad carefully. "I don't think she's sexy. SHE's sexy." He pointed to the mom in the middle, and also to the young blonde girl on the top. I couldn't believe I was watching two children rate the "sexiness" of females. But the next thing that happened shocked me even more than their conversation.
The 8 year old boy proceeded to bend down and open-mouth kiss 3 or 4 of the females on the sign.
Nobody noticed this little scenario going on but me. Nobody else was paying attention to what was being said and done. And I think that's part of the problem.
What have these kids seen and heard to already be categorizing women (and young girls!) as sexy or not sexy? If the objectification of women starts at 6 and 8, then we are in a lot of trouble in about 10-20 years. What was going on in this sweet little girl's mind as she asked her brother if the young girl was sexy? Does she know what it means? What was going on in the young boy's mind as he forced kisses on them? (I'm not being dramatic here, it was not normal)
I was in elementary school the first time I was introduced to pornography. I was invited to go to the snow for the weekend with my best friend and her family. I still remember the name of the movie that was watched the first night. It was full of cursing, sex, and adult themes. All the while, my friend's family was completely unfazed by the fact that my friend and I were in the room. I was probably in 4th or 5th grade at the time. We stayed in the family cabin, and in each bathroom I found a stack of Playboy magazines. I found myself drawn in and flipped through them when I got a chance.
The images and portrayal of sexuality that I saw over that weekend changed me.
After that experience, I became even more aware of how awkward, flat-chested, freckle-faced, redheaded and sweaty-palmed I was. I paid more attention to how the teachers showed favor to the pretty girls. Or how the boys paid attention to the girls in the tight pants that had the zipper going from the front to the back (this was the late 70's!) I had learned what sexy was, and I was definitely NOT it. Nor should I have been! But when a young girl sees such blatant sexuality by women, she can't help but take it in and apply it to herself.
We can't stop the world from judging women by how their body is shaped or how attractive she is. But we CAN make a difference in the lives of the future women put in our care. Our daughters. Our granddaughters. Our sisters. We can protect them from learning about adult things before they are adults. We can shield their eyes from seeing sensual things that their little brains aren't mature enough to process. We can guard them from seeing women objectified.
We also have the responsibility to raise up our sons to be men of honor and integrity. We must teach them about respecting females. We should be aware of what they are viewing and how it plays a part in defining their perspective of women. Are they playing video games with sexy characters? (or GTA where you can rape a character?) Are they watching PG-13 movies at 8 years old that have sexual themes in them? Are they looking at pornography (that has become increasingly more violent toward women)?
It is our job to know these things, and to protect the purity of our children. To guard their eyes and their ears from the profanity and the lust that permeates our culture.
Now I'm going to step on some toes, but here goes....
Watching shows like The Bachelor with your young sons and daughters is influencing how they view what is attractive and "sexy" and appropriate. They will see women dress as sexy as they can and compete with other women to "win" the affection of a man. And in the end they will be offered the "key to the fantasy suite"... A young girl watching a couple dozen women compete against one another for a man is just not a great life lesson to teach.
I saw the Katy Perry movie several years ago and I was shocked by the sexual themes of her clothing and her lyrics. But there were thousands of moms bringing their six year olds to the concerts, singing along with the songs about drunken blackouts, sex, and male anatomy. I know I sound like a prude, but honestly it's time some folks stepped up and said this isn't healthy for our young girls! A five year old girl singing "boys only want love when it's torture" (TS) is not cute - it's filling her impressionable mind with an unhealthy message. We need a wake up call when it comes to our children and what they are exposed to.
Lastly, many young kids are on Instagram these days. Are parents aware of the darker side of this social app? I was scrolling through one of the trending hashtags the other night and came upon dozens and dozens of photos of GRAPHIC pornography - one disturbing photo involved an adult and a child. Instagram is not a safe place for kids.
I don't want my daughter to grow up thinking she is an object to be judged and scored. I don't want her think she has to dress or be "sexy" to be attractive to someone. And I don't want my son to rate girls based on how "sexy" they are, or see them as something to conquer.
As parents, let's all be aware of what is shaping our children's perspective of themselves and others. Let's be building them up with the truth of who they are and whose they are. And let's be prayerful about how we can continually be pointing them in the direction of holiness, identity, respect and purity.
** A few days after writing this post, Eugene Cho was speaking at the IF:Gathering in Austin. He told a story of when he found his 9 year old daughter and her group of friends sitting in a circle, sharing how much weight they had to lose. This is the kind of thing we are up against and need to be aware of. The messages our girls are getting from the world are skewed and broken.