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Barbara F. Meltz writes the Globe's Child Caring column. She is author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes, Understanding How Your Children See the World," and a frequent speaker to parent groups. Join her chat on the first and third Monday of the month at noon.
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« On the consumer front | Main | More bad news for Baby Einstein »

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Sexiness and the (too) young girl

preteen beauties.bmp
(Daily Mail photo)

Since my riff last week on "Bratz: The Movie," I've heard from a few moms saying that my objection -- that the dolls focus young girls on sexiness long before they would ordinarily even think about it -- is way off base. One of them writes, "What's so unusual or wrong about a 7-year-old who likes lipstick and hair gadgets?"

Not to get personal here, but I bet these are the same moms who would like their 7- to 10-year-olds on the beauty pageant circuit or modelling for Teen Vogue. Gag me with a camera. I can't link this story today in the Daily Mail, "Meet the Preteen Beauty Addicts," to the Bratz phenom but it does seem to me that all of this is coming from the same place, a Western culture that increasingly condones the premature sexualization of girls.

OK, I know this is not one of the world's most respected journalistic enterprises. But the story not only highlights this appalling trend in Western society, it also shows that some parents thing it is desirable and normal. Is it? What do you think?

Wheelock College early childhood educator Diane Levin is so distrubed by all this that she's writing a book on it, "So Sexy So Soon." Unfortunately, it isn't due out for another year, fall of 2008. (Her co-author is Jean Kilbourne, who wrote "Deadly Persuasion," about how girls are targeted by the advertising industry.) In the meantime, if you're struggling with some of these issues, here's are some books I can recommend: "Boy Crazy!" by Charlene Giannetti & Margaret Sagarese; "Packaging Girlhood," by Sharon Lamb & Lyn Mikel Brown; and "Trust me, mom, everyone else is going, The New Rules for Mothering Adolescent Girls" by Roni Cohen-Sandler.

Posted by Barbara Meltz at 11:50 AM
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