DON’T CALL KIDS ‘”TRAMPY”
Do short shorts = trampy? Does a short skirt = slutty?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines ‘sexualisation’ as occurring when a person’s value is believed to come only from their sexual appeal; their sexiness is judged according to a narrow ideal of physical attractiveness; or they are sexually objectified (that is, seen simply as an object for others’ sexual use).
This may have a serious impact on a child’s cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and on their sexuality.
As a parent and educator, this has concerned me enough to compel me to act.
Back in 2002, I founded a company, Enlighten Education, which now works with over 20,000 girls a year in schools. We encourage girls to be discerning consumers and critical thinkers and to find their own voice and power in a complex world.
I’ve taken to the streets to protest against child beauty pageants. I’ve backed boycotts of stores that market Playboy-branded merchandise to kids. Back in 2007, when 60 Minutes did a feature story in response to the Senate’s inquiry into this issue, I was presented as the “poster girl” for parents who were concerned that our culture imposes pressures on girls to be too sexy, too soon. Hell, I have even written two books aimed at supporting parents, and girls, to claim their own power.
So why am I not thrilled at the latest online furore over a mother’s Facebook message to clothing store Target that slammed it for encouraging girls to look “trampy”?
After all, over 57,000 people agreed with her. Why too, aren’t I elated by the subsequent media storm this has initiated, which has seen two different pairs of denim shorts held up as shocking examples of sexualised clothing that we should all be morally outraged by?
Because short shorts are not evidence of the sexualisation of our children, nor should children ever be labeled as “trampy.”
The really important discussions we need to be having at the moment around the sexualisation of children seem to be being hijacked by those that would have this issue used as an excuse to shame girls and women based on their clothing choices.
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