A new study confirms what many moms already fear --girls as young as 6 want to be "sexy" and they think being "sexy" will make them more popular. The study concluded, of course, that all of this can be blamed on mom and that if mom wants to, she can keep her daughter sheltered and away from sexy images. Awesome.
OK, in all seriousness, this study is disturbing. Children -- mostly Midwestern, public school kids ages 6-9 -- were asked a series of questions about two dolls. One was dressed in "hot" (read: hooker or night on the Jersey Shore) clothing and the other dressed in a more conservative looking outfit.
Many of the girls -- 68 percent, in fact -- said they wanted to look "sexy," too. Seventy-two percent said the hot one was more popular. Can I get a collective groan?
It's not that this is especially shocking. Our culture is littered with sex, sex, sex all the time. My little girl loves superheroes and it has been a mighty challenge to find a single one who wasn't dressed like she is a working girl out to give a $5 blow job in the back of a pickup truck.
It's not all bad, though. I asked my own 5-year-old the questions, and while she initially answered that she liked the hot girl "because of her shoes," she actually chose the more conservatively dressed doll as looking more like her and said she would be more popular "because she looks like me" (no problem with self-esteem here!). Further, the study also asked girls from a dance class to answer and they chose the more conservative doll at a higher rate.
It seems dance and other sports helps girls gain a greater body appreciation and higher body image. Well, good. It also just seems the test is skewed. When pressed, my daughter admitted she only picked the "hot one" so she wouldn't feel left out.
Maybe the study is a bit off? Just a thought. Look, there is no question that girls are being subjected to inappropriate sexual images and that is wrong, wrong, wrong. But maybe they were asking the wrong questions and forgetting that girls don't always see what we do.
When my 5-year-old looked at these images, she saw cool shoes and two girls, each one with feelings. She felt she had to pick them both just to make them feel good.
It's a great sound bite -- 6-year-old girls want to be sexy, news at 11! -- but it isn't entirely true. It isn't the whole story.
Sure, kids should watch less TV and mom should definitely not be pushing a "hot" agenda with a young girl. But most good moms know this already. We know to help our daughters discover what their bodies can do, not just what they look like. We know to dress the way we want our children to dress. So what is this really telling us?
My answer: not much. Sure, it's a great teaser, but it doesn't feel genuine, here on the ground, where I live with my very real daughter. "Sexy" isn't even a word she knows. I would like to keep it that way.
What do you think of this study?