Moms Aren't to Blame When Their Daughters Wear Sexy Clothes

little girl dressAre your daughter's clothes too sexy? A new study shows that about 30 percent of girls' clothing, even for toddlers, is sexualizing. Social psychologist Sarah Murnen asked independent adults to review clothing for girls from 15 major retailers and rate how sexualizing they found it. Whether it was because of slinky, lingerie-like fabric or a cut that emphasized a girl's chest, nearly a third of those clothes read as "sexy" to the adult raters. Even when the outfit included childish details like ruffles and polka-dots!

Not a big deal? I guess not, as long as you think eating disorders, low self-esteem, or depression aren't a big deal, either. But I think most of us want to raise strong, healthy daughters.

Girls who buy into sexualizing messages about themselves tend to have lower self-esteem and are more likely to suffer from depression and eating disorders (this according to a 2007 task force of the American Psychological Association). The clothes girls wear can play a big role in how sexualized they feel -- and from a very young age. So if this study is anything to go by, parents should buy more of their kids' clothes at Target and Gymboree and stay the hell out of Abercrombie Kids. (You're shocked by that last one, right? Eyeroll.)

But wait -- Murnen says we shouldn't be so quick to blame parents about this. Channel your outrage toward the marketers of girls' clothing, instead. "Blaming the parents is exactly what the marketers want you to do," she said. "They spend $12 billion getting your kids to want the things you don't want them to have, and then they blame you for buying them."

Yeah, and we love that game! When people scold parents and ask, "Is it really so hard just to make better shopping choices?" I always want to reply, "Is it really so hard to just make BETTER STUFF?!?" Because what goes through a clothing designer's head when they put "hot stuff" in sexy script on a toddler's dress? Making their mortgage payments, I guess, but I still think it sucks. Our girls deserve better than this.

Have you noticed little girls' clothing that looks too sexy?


Image via Burning Image/Flickr

in the news, girls, kid clothes


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NatAndCo NatAndCo

Ah the power of the word "no". "Mommy can I have this bikini?".... No. "Mommy this shirt says I'm hot, can I have it"....No. Aaah, magical.

mompam mompam

Honestly I haven't noticed it. I hear a lot of complaining about it on here, but when shopping for my daughter I haven't seen it. She likes t shirts with animals and boy style shorts. We get almost everything for her at justice. I wish she would wear more girlhood things, but she won't.

nonmember avatar Mama of 5

The only issue I have with the "make better stuff" argument is that retailers respond to what the target demographic is BUYING. So, yes - parents are responsible for what they are purchasing for their children. You don't HAVE TO buy the "Sexy and I Know It" tee for your 6 year old. You don't have to buy the jacket emblazoned with "Shake that Laffy Taffy" on the back for your 6th grade daughter (yes, I've seen this). Even at stores like abercrombie, you can find modest polos, t-shirts, mid-rise pants or jeans. No one is standing in these stores, forcing parents to do dress their daughters like miniature hookers.

Cynthia Parten

How are the parents not to blame? Yes, designers are making clothes that are way too sexually suggestive. But they are only making those clothes because there is a demand for it. Mom is in charge of buying the clothes (unless we are talking about a teenager with a job). But young children don't wear inappropriate clothing unless their parents buy it for them. If you want designers to stop making clothes like that, then stop buying them.

nonmember avatar Shandeigh

Parents are totally to blame. They have the money.. they buy the clothes. If "sexy" style clothes didn't sell.. stores wouldn't stock them. At the end of the day fashion designers and stores are about making money, if there wasn't a market for this crap they would stop making it.

momof... momof030404

I have two daughters ages 11& 12. YES the shorts are TOO short and the shirts are TOO know what?? THIS parent buys shirts a size (or 3) larger and buys capri pants! The most depressing is swimsuiits. My girls are in Junior sizes now and those swimsuits are AWFUL. Sooooo THIS parent buys them tankinis with boy shorts......BECAUSE it IS the parents fault how they dress. There are ALWAYS options other than the short and skimpy!

the4m... the4mutts

How stupid do you GET?? Of course its the parents' fault!! These companies wouldn't be in business if it didn't sell well.

I have 2 daughters. My 6yr old is a girly girl, and into "fashion". She likes the Bratz style clothing. *she's never seen Bratz cartoon, its my description*

I have no idea where she gets her sense of style. Certainly not from me! I dress like a 12 yr old boy half the time.

But the question: does she get to have Bratz style clothing?

The answer: hell no!

I told her, in the middle of a fight about the "stupid" clothes she didn't want for school, that when she was 18, had a job, and bought her own clothes, she could wear what she wanted.

Then, my exact words "Now, shut up and get dressed, or I swear I will put your shoes on and take you, kicking & screaming, to school in your jammies"

She put on the "stupid" clothes.

Jespren Jespren

Agree with the above. It's absolutely the parent's fault (both of 'em though, not just mom's)! A designer can design whatever they want for the runways or some haute fashion show, no store will buy it to stock their shelves unless people are buying it. It's completely the fault of the parents who are buying it and allowing their kids to wear it. I can design a bright green burka with red zebra stripes and see-through strategic panels, but unless it will bring in buyers I'm not finding anyone to mass produce it.

nonmember avatar Michelle

4mutts u never fail to crack me up! And sorry, the author of this post is an IDIOT. The word "no" is used AND enforced in our home. As consumers, WE hold the power of choice. This is the same shit as those who blame McDonalds for getting fat. SORRY but they are your dollars and your choices. When will lazy Americans take accountability for their actions??!! I am guessing never if there are people like those who wrote this article out there. Nice try.

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