A recent Causes petition exhorting Target to stop carrying sexy Halloween costumes for young girls recently landed in my in-box.
“From sexy witches to naughty leopards and “slutty crayons,” Halloween costumes that encourage young girls to sexualize themselves are everywhere. News flash: little girls aren’t sexy – do we really want society to look at our daughters this way?“
I’d almost added my electronic name to the petition when it suddenly hit me. Wait a minute. You have a choice as a mom and a choice as a consumer. If it offends you, don’t buy the product.
Easy for me to say—I don’t have the terrific task of explaining to a kid in various stages of public whining, pouting and storm just why a particularly slinky, slit-to-there witches outfit isn’t for her.
“It’s not appropriate.” Was there ever a more tired response guaranteed to trigger more “why not?” whining than that? And how, in God’s name, can anybody adequately explain inappropriate sexual behavior and what it might trigger to an eight-year-old anyway? In a store? Running late for gymnastics class?
And how did society get us in such a terrible place that we have to have this kind of conversation in the first place? Is it as bad as I think it is? Or is it a generational thing? I remember my mother saying things like, “You’re wearing that over my dead body.” But I was at least 16 at the time.
Times have indeed changed if eight is the new 16.And not in a good way.
Sexualization of women and little girls has reached epidemic proportions. And then there’s Miley Cyrus in a class by herself where she’s apparently always wanted to be. No wonder the petition-starting mom wants to cut the conversation off at the source! But darn-it, are the stores really the source? Is Target really the target?
I don’t think there’s a conspiracy driving the sale of revealing clothes—although it’s a great gimmick for the garment industry selling clothes with less and less actual cloth in them for ever higher prices. And I don’t think there’s a conscious desire to sexualize children. Corporations are just following the buying trend. And the trend of ever-more-exposed, younger female flesh is visible in almost any magazine, billboard, video game, advertisement, movie or TV show.
Maybe it’s a response to global warming?
Nah. It’s a time-honored tradition, and, as any salesman knows, you don’t mess with a good thing. You just keep ramping up the show. Yes, sex sells. Why child sex sells I cannot fathom or want to fathom. But here’s what’s puzzling. Over 85 percent of consumer sales, no matter what the item (okay, maybe not automatic rifles), are made by women.
In an average year, women control over $20 trillion in consumer and business spending worldwide. Hello? Do we have a clue how much power lies in our hands?
If we don’t like how something is presented or over-packaged in plastic—we can kill it. If we don’t like how our food is grown, sprayed, polluted with toxic chemicals and GMO’d into something our bodies can’t even recognize as food—we can kill it. If we don’t like how our bodies are portrayed or how our little girl’s bodies are being exploited—we can kill it.
WE’RE NOT BUYING IT. I guarantee when we don’t, markets will change.
Yes, I can hear the screams of millions of frantic-to-be-popular little girls about how “everybody else is doing it, wearing it, and piercing it.” I can hear the howls of young men when their sexually degrading, physically abusive to women video games are wrenched from their clenched fists and thrown in the trash. I can hear the sighs of boyfriends and husbands as certain magazines hit the dustbins and the TV remote CLICKS off a particularly gruesome show or movie showing yet one more violent rape, stabbing and disemboweling of yet one more terrified, victimized woman.
Too bad, so sad.
Will it be easy? Hell no. Is it the “right” direction to go? What do you think? And now, excuse me, I’m going to go sign that petition. Every message counts.