About two years ago, an incident occurred in a supermarket that horrified me. I was packing my shopping into bags at the checkout while Pip was sat in the trolley, wearing her new sunglasses. The lady operating the checkout said the following:
‘Ooh don’t you look sexy in your sunglasses?’
Too shocked to really construct a properly outraged response, I simply shouted ‘What?’ and then left, luckily having already paid. Later, I wrote in a letter about the response and I was told that the employee was disciplined. I’m not going to name the supermarket in question because it wasn’t the company’s fault that their worker said such a thing.
I really wouldn’t have thought this would need saying but children are NOT sexy. Can we all just remember for a second that the word ‘sexy’ means sexually attractive? Children can be cute, pretty and beautiful but never, ever sexy. If you disagree, you have a serious problem and should seek help immediately.
However, this is not all that uncommon. I’ve seen pictures on social media sites of little girls in cute little outfits with lovely sweet smiles lighting up their tiny faces with comments underneath saying how ‘sexy’ they look. No. No, they’re don’t. These comments aren’t coming from some random stranger who is instantly reported for being repulsively digesting. Sometimes they’re actually from relatives.
I’m sure we’ll all remember the campaigns against Primark and other clothing shops selling inappropriate clothing for girls. I supported that campaign. But Primark didn’t get ideas for their children’s clothing collection out of thin air. They do market research to see what sells well. I recall once seeing a girl of, I would guess, maybe 8 or 9 years old wearing a pair of jogging bottoms that bore the slogan ‘In your dreams’ across her backside. It seems very unlikely that whoever had parental responsibility for this child was forced to buy them and put them on their daughter. Someone had looked at that and thought ‘Doesn’t that just suit little [insert girls name] perfectly?’
I know peer pressure is often blamed for children wearing inappropriate clothing, playing inappropriate games and watching inappropriate films. I’ve heard parents express their concern that their child will be teased or alienated for not having the same products as their friends. Shouldn’t we be teaching our children to ignore this kind of thing, which is essentially bullying? Do we want our children to conform constantly to everyone else’s opinions just to remain popular?
As parents, we need to regain some control and some perspective. Your child is not going to hate you or be alone forever if you tell them no once in a while. It’s something they must learn to deal with or the adult world is going to be a big shock for them. If you think something is inappropriate then simply don’t buy it or let other people give it to your child. Openly assert the opinion that your child is too young to be sexualised or shown violent or otherwise adult images. Be a strong parent, for your child’s sake.