We used to let little girls be little girls instead of over-sexualizing them into objects of desire. They played with Legos in clothes that allowed them to be active and move around, instead of in clothes that are too tight, too low, or too inappropriately-labeled, which not only make this kind of appropriate child’s play difficult, but draw the attention of others towards these girls’ bodies instead of to their abilities and developing self. Why do little girls need to wear thongs? Who is looking at their butts, other than their parents? Why send a message to a 6 year-old that her bum doesn’t need to be covered or that the clothes she wears should accentuate or show it off? Normalizing this kind of displayed sexuality at such a young age not only teaches but straight up hits it home to these girls that over-emphasizing the physical aspects of themselves - which will be routinely exploited for the rest of their lives - should be their primary focus. By now we’re all familiar with how this can lead to major body-image issues, depression, substance abuse, and trouble with school, but as a sexual health educator my particular distress here is over the early onset of sexual activity - which can then lead to a higher incidence of those other consequences.
Girls who are sexually active from a very young age are more likely to have unprotected sex. Which means they are more likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection. Perhaps one that affects the health of their future babies (see: herpes, HIV, CMV) their future partners (see: those listed before, and - HPV, gonorrhea) and their future fertility (see: those listed before, and chlamydia - which can make women sterile). Not only that, between the ages of 4 - 10, young girls are in the developmental stage of constructing a sense of self - they are beginning to see that they are distinct and separate and piecing together what that means for themselves. Determining what composes them as individuals, how they will present themselves to the world, what for them is meaningful. If what we’re giving them is that meaning is tied up in how they look in a thong or a push-up bikini, I’m terrified of what they’ll be doing in two decades. Additionally, girls at this age are mimicking what they see in their social circle as appropriate behavior, and aligning with their same-sex parents and mentors. This means that not only is it better for your kid to be dressed appropriately, their friends’ parents need to feel the same. Like everything else, like all you readers know, this requires massive cultural and social norm shifting. So this is just a reminder to start with us.