Baby Dolls, Beauty Pageants, and the Sexualization of Children
There is a right way to rear children, and there is a wrong way. Abraham chose the right way. He commanded his children to “keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice” (Genesis 18:19, emp. added). Some 2,000 years later, the inspired apostle Paul made sure to tell the Ephesians to bring their children up “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, emp. added). The Lord’s way is the right way (Psalm 119:75). The right way includes diligently teaching young people to be (among other things) sensible, modest, discreet, and chaste (Titus 2:4-8; 1 Peter 3:1-5). It also includes warning today’s youth of the dangerous works of the flesh, including the impure, lewd, sensual things that tend to stir up ungodly passions (Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 13:13).
Sadly, the instruction of children in the ways “of the Lord” has diminished significantly in America, and yes, even in the Lord’s Church. Consequently, as the ways of the Lord are forgotten, many are promoting and partaking in the heartbreaking sexualization of children. Though many adults in this country will condemn (and rightly so) pedophilia, child pornography, etc., many of these same individuals have contributed to the sexualizing of children. It may start very young when parents purchase their four-year-old daughters baby dolls that look more like the seductress harlot described in Proverbs 7 than an innocent little bundle of joy. Some of the Bratz Babyz manufactured by MGA Entertainment, for example, sell dolls wearing midriff tops, mini skirts, tiny bikinis, and sparkly panties. The dolls are painted to look more like a seductive, grown woman—with large, glossy lips, and long, painted eyelashes. One manufacturing company a few years ago went so far as to make a “Pole Dance” doll. So outrageous was this product that even The Huffington Post ran a story titled “The 7 Most Inappropriate Products for Children” (2010). Number one on the list was the “Pole Dance” doll, which had on it’s box keywords such as “Flash,” and “Up and Down”—words that The Huffington Post said “sound like they were written by the happiest pedophile in playland.”
What seems to be contributing even more to the sexualization of children in America are the clothes that retail stores are selling—that parents are purchasing. Livescience.com published a story in 2011 about a study regarding children’s clothing (toddlers to pre-teen children) from 15 national retail stores. The researchers found that of the 5,666 items of clothing that were reviewed, “31 percent had sexualizing features” (i.e., “they revealed or emphasized a sexualized body part such as the chest or buttocks and…had sexy characteristics such as slinky material;” Pappas, 2011, emp. added). Add to this the skin-tight, short shorts that retailers sell and that parents buy, and the problem is compounded. Parents, you might be contributing to the sexualizing of your own children (1) if your daughter’s shirts are longer than her shorts, (2) if your daughter’s shorts are tighter and shorter than a pair of boxer briefs, or (3) if the pockets of your daughter’s shorts hang lower than the shorts themselves.
Some parents have even taken this a step further, by entering their young, innocent daughters (some as young as three years old) into beauty pageants that reward young girls for dressing and acting like anything but the modest and discreet girls the Lord desires parents to rear (Titus 2:4-8; 1 Peter 3:1-5). Some mothers and fathers accessorize their five- and six-year-old daughters with spray tans, hair extensions, and fake eyelashes and fingernails. Some even remove the hair from their prepubescent bodies, followed by a layer of make-up that might give Dolly Parton a run for her money. It is as if the parents are trying to turn their daughters into the previously mentioned, sexualized Bratz Babyz dolls. Promoting this behavior is the exact opposite of teaching the important value to young ladies that “charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
These little girls, who in many ways are made to look more like grown women, are then paraded in front of an audience like eye candy. They are asked to sing and dance and take people’s breath away. I recently saw a clip of a talk show where one woman was critical of the pageants, saying, “You said it’s not sexualizing the kids…and there is nothing mature about the performance. Yet one of the little ones is shaking her backside, shaking her booty, and she said so.” One mother’s sad defense: “What does that have to do [with anything]? That’s having fun” (emp. added). Another defensive mother added: “If people are looking at a child in a sexy way, then there’s something wrong with them” (“Toddlers…,” 2011). Perhaps, but when a mother intentionally makes her five-year-old look, act, talk, flirt, and dance like a harlot, we should not be surprised that some men will find this satisfying to their sexual senses. In fact, one woman responded to the show on-line, saying, “When you dress a child up like a [prostitute], have her act like one, shaking her [bottom], etc., you are just asking for trouble. Every pedophile out there is watching getting their [thrills] at your child’s expense” (“Toddlers…,” 2011).
Only the naïve or the immoral will not admit to the obvious sexualization of children in America. It is so obvious that even liberal organizations such as The Huffington Post and Livescience.com recognize it. Question: Are you submitting to the Lord’s will to rear sensible, humble, modest, and discreet children who are letting their “Christian lights” shine? Are you teaching about the sinfulness and danger of impure, lewd, sensual things that tend to stir up ungodly passions? Or, are you working hand in hand with Satan in the sexualizing of children by what you purchase and allow your own kids to wear?
Pappas, Stephanie (2011), “30% of Girls Clothing is Sexualized in Major Sales Trent,” Livescience.com, May 20, http://www.livescience.com/14249-girls-clothing-sexualized.html.
“The 7 Most Inappropriate Products for Children” (2010), March 12, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/09/14/the-7-most-inappropriate_n_286223.html.
“Toddlers & Tiaras’ Moms Defend Child Beauty Pageants” (2011), Anderson Live, October 19, http://www.andersoncooper.com/2011/10/18/toddlers-and-tiaras-tlc-moms-defend-child-beauty-pageants/.