Why not take ’em to Northampton – and the ‘Make Me Fabulous’ pole-dancing studio. There, your four year-old can while away the hours with classes training them in the essential art of ‘holding their legs in a V-shape while sliding down a pole’. Not convinced? Well, maybe you oughta loosen up. As the site reminds us, ‘you were born with wings – don’t ever forget to fly’.
Damn straight. I’m like a bird, losers. Let me soar.
If only. Chipped toenail varnish, yep. Weird bumpy bruise on left leg, yep. Random hair on chin (despite repeatedly plucking the little beast), yep. Wings – not so much. Unless you mean bingo wings, which, as mum reminds me, are just a matter of time.
Seriously though. If you want to pole-dance, then fine. But toddlers? The clue’s in the name – they can barely walk, let alone gyrate.
Bratz baby dolls wear thongs. Padded bras are for primary school. ‘Family’ viewing features performances that wouldn’t be out of place in a strip club. Such sexualisation has a massive impact upon mental health. In particular, it’s linked to eating disorders, depression, shame, anxiety and poor self-esteem. So who or what, is the culprit? Does one even exist?
It’s easy to scapegoat the media and modern culture. They certainly play a part. Yet research conducted for the Scottish parliament suggests that it is mainly parents, not children, who worry about sexualisation. In addition, it’s the sexualisation not of their own, but other people’s children that concerns them. Meanwhile, the children themselves, interviewed for the same piece of research, were far more likely to be influenced by peer pressure than by the internet.
Perhaps it’s a confusion of terms. Sexual versus sexualised. Empowered versus objectified. Kids versus mini-adults. This week I read that five year-old Suri Cruise has a $150,000 shoe collection, whilst baby Sarkozy has been hailed as ‘the perfect marketing tool for the president’ ahead of next year’s elections. Go figure.
We can’t censor everything and we can’t shelter our kids from the outside world. Yet we are responsible for our purchasing decisions. We can talk to our kids, model discernment and teach them about values beyond the exterior. But before we tackle child sexualisation, perhaps we need to cover our own eyes first.