Warning: Do not read the following if you like to keep your head in the sand!
Otherwise, continue on and please stay with me!
I promise that I have suggestions to help you become part of the solution at the end.
Nowadays, it is commonplace to see huge billboards of half-naked teens posing for clothing ads (ironic, isn’t it?).
It’s also a well-known fact that pornography is easily accessible online and many children are unintentionally (and intentionally) exposed at younger and younger ages.
This is tragic, especially since their little brains are not fully developed and can’t comprehend the images they see.
You’ve also heard of child prostitution and sex trafficking as well, haven’t you?
Unfortunately, these issues are not only in India’s Red Light District and in 3rd world countries, they are here in the USA as well.
According to the FBI http://1.usa.gov/v6tfiX, human sex trafficking is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world (it brings in BILLIONS of dollars per year).
Yep. You read that right.
“An estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.” http://1.usa.gov/v6tfiX
(Stay with me! I will get to the part about what YOU can do to protect your daughter!).
From an early age, our children are targeted by major manufacturing companies.
They are unknowingly groomed to become the best consumers possible by the time they are preteens.
I know this may sound a little “conspiracy theory-ish” AND it’s true.
Think about it for a moment.
Before my children had ever watched TV, they knew who Dora and all of the princesses were, just from quick shopping trips to the grocery store and other major stores.
Now, I don’t have anything against marketing. Truly, I don’t. After all, I also own my own business.
The issue I have is WHAT is being marketed to our children by these big companies.
(insert story and tangent-just a warning!)
Last summer, I was in a small town in California with a friend of mine.
We were browsing through a cute little vintage store when I ran across the CUTEST owl shirt that I HAD to have for my (then) 7 year old daughter.
She loves owls, you know! What 7 year-old girl doesn’t?
I pulled the shirt off the rack to take a look at it. As I turned it around, I noticed that most of the shirt was actually missing on the backside. Huh?
In other words, it had a VERY open back. I wish I had a picture to show you, but I don’t, so you will just have to trust me on this one!
The sizes of the shirts were appalling to me…3 months to 6 years. BABY sizes.
Why on earth does a baby or child need to walk around in sexy clothing (that is typically for an adult)?
What’s happening in the world today is that we’re becoming desensitized to it all.
By “it all” I mean the little ways that our girls are being encouraged to look sexy at earlier ages than ever before.
As a society, we have:
Become used to hearing the degrading comments made toward girls in cartoons, TV shows, and music
Accepted that it’s no big deal for our kids to play violent video games (some of which are violent toward women)
Walked by provocative billboards outside and inside the mall without giving them a second thought (guilty here!)
Passed by the high heels and wedges in toddler sizes as we shopped for our children’s shoes (hey, I have nothing against dress-up games, but this is entirely different)……that we aren’t even conscious of the little ways that these VERY things chip away at our daughters’ self-esteem.
Ok, maybe that’s not a fair statement.
Since you are reading this, you’re probably more conscious than most out there.
In that case, yay for our society!
And more importantly, hooray for your daughter!
If you’ve never thought about these things, then join the club (I hadn’t for the longest time) and thank you for being open to taking a look at this for your daughter’s sake.
So…what’s a mom to do?
Should you lock her up in her room until she is 30? Good luck with that!
Should you keep her sheltered for life? Let me know how that goes.:)
Should you just decide it’s no big deal, and let her follow the unspoken rules of society and keep on keepin’ on? That is your decision to make.
You turned out ok, right?
I’m sure you have, and things have changed since you were a kid.
Our girls are on information overload, are having sex at younger and younger ages, having group sex, rainbow parties (google it), and sexting as early as age 9.
No, not all of them, but enough of them to cause concern.
The shorts are getting shorter and the boundaries are getting looser.
Things weren’t as complicated when we were young.
We didn’t have cell phones, facebook, or twitter (and I say thank goodness for that! So glad I missed that era!)
We weren’t bombarded with information and images of sexualized women at every turn.
Yes, we still had some pressure.
Low self-esteem and eating disorders existed then, but still…it was different.
So…back to what’s a mom to do?
There is hope!
Just because all of the above are happening in the world and our daughters are being subconsciously influenced, or pressured by peers, that does NOT mean they will engage in all of those activities or will even end up with low self-esteem.
My goal in telling you this information isn’t to depress you (although I have to admit, it is a bit hard to face), it’s to help you become aware of the things you may have no clue about.
It’s to offer you ways to stay connected with your daughter, decide what boundaries you want to create with her, keep the hard conversations open, honest + continuous, and gain her trust so she WILL talk to you when these issues arise.
You truly are her number one role model and have such a beautiful impact on her and her view of the world.
Here are some suggestions that you can take or tweak to fit your personal situation (please shift the questions based on your daughter’s age. SOME of the questions are best for daughters who are 11 or 12, and others can be used with your 7 year-old).
Walk through the mall and notice the big ads. What do you see?
Head into the stores that tweens shop in and take a look around.
What do YOU see and hear (types of clothing, shoes, pictures, music)?
Talk to your daughter about your observations.
Ask her what it’s like for her to see these ads (does she even notice them?) or how does she feel with so much information coming at her on a daily basis. Talk to her about how to manage this.
Ask you daughter what pressures SHE is facing at the moment and ask how you can help (after you listen and validate ALL of her feelings…remember to see, hear, and acknowledge her).
Talk to her about what kids at school are doing. What does she hear about?
Are any of her friends involved (ie: in sexting, etc…). What does she think about this?
Ask her what she would do if faced with these situations (if a boy asked her for a picture of herself or to do something that involved using her body).
Talk to her about body boundaries and personal space. Let her know she gets to decide who holds her hand, hugs her, etc…and she should never be forced to do anything that makes her feel uncomfortable.
Respect her body boundaries. If she doesn’t want to hug and kiss you (or anyone else for that matter), don’t make her! Respect her boundaries and she will do the same.
When she wants to buy music that is overtly sexual in nature, or wants those sexy clothes at the age of 8, talk to her about it. Set boundaries. Ask, “What am I comfortable with?”
Always go with your initial instinct. Your intuition never lies!
Don’t forget to BREATHE! You are doing such an amazing job! Just keep breathing as you keep communication with your daughter open and honest.
So what the heck does the sexualization of girls and you have to do with sex trafficking of our children?
It’s become so commonplace that our young girls want to wear sexier clothes at younger ages and our boys receive negative messages about our girls, so degrading women doesn’t seem like such a big deal (+ this plays into our boys’ ideas about what women should look and act like).
Supply and demand also has a large part in this.
If we have boys who don’t value women and have warped ideas about what a woman looks and acts like, they will be more likely to take part in this millions of dollars per DAY industry.
If our men didn’t demand it, our girls (and boys) wouldn’t be at such high risk for these unthinkable acts.
Supply and demand also has a large part in this (successful business men from the U.S. even travel overseas for the sole purpose of engaging in these activities).
It is up to each of us to make a change, one household at a time.
Teach your daughter to value who she is, love herself and her body, and teach your boys to do the same + respect girls.
Connect with your daughter, talk to her, LISTEN to her, and work through your own issues related to puberty and becoming a woman.
It may sound simplistic + idealistic, but it’s not.
If we do nothing, then the situation with our daughters, our granddaughters, and our great granddaughters will not improve.
What are you willing to do today to change this legacy?
If you felt angry, anxious, or sad while reading this post, it’s possible that you may have some unfinished business from your own childhood to take care of!
It’s so hard to watch your daughter grow and develop, especially if your own preteen and teen years were traumatic or less than ideal.
Please reach out and get the help that you need to shift these unwanted feelings, so you can be fully present with your daughter in her experience, without unconsciously affecting her with your past.
I am more than happy to support you through this as well. Click here
to learn more about how I can help you and your daughter.
PS: If you feel called, please consider donating $$ to End Sex Trafficking Day, the cause created by Erin Giles that contributes to organizations who assist victims of sex trafficking. It truly takes a village.
At the very least, please watch this BEAUTIFUL video that Erin Giles created and educate yourself:
Together, we can create a safe and beautiful world for our children!
Much love to you.
As always, I want to hear from you!
We all have so much to learn from one another.
Leave your comment below.