What parents can do about the sexualization of girls


Girls get this message repeatedly: What matters is how “hot” they look. It plays on TV and across the Internet. You hear it in song lyrics and music videos. You see it in movies, electronic games, and clothing stores. It’s a powerful message.

As parents, you are powerful too. You can teach girls to value themselves for who they are, rather than how they look. You can teach boys to value girls as friends, sisters, and girlfriends, rather than as sexual objects. And you can advocate for change with manufacturers and media producers.

Tune in and Talk. Watch TV and movies with your daughters and sons. Read their magazines. Surf their Web sites. Ask questions. "Why is there so much pressure on girls to look a certain way?” “What do you like most about the girls you want to spend time with?” “Do these qualities matter more than how they look?” Really listen to what your kids tell you.

Question Choices. Girls who are overly concerned about their appearance often have difficulty focusing on other things. Clothes can be part of the distraction. If your daughter wants to wear something you consider too sexy, ask what she likes about the outfit. Ask if there’s anything she doesn’t like about it. Explain how clothes that require lots of checking and adjusting might keep her from focusing on school work, friends, and other activities.

Speak up. If you don’t like a TV show, CD, video, pair of jeans, or doll, say why. A conversation with her will be more effective than simply saying, “No, you can’t buy it or watch it.” Support campaigns, companies, and products that promote positive images of girls. Complain to manufacturers, advertisers, television and movie producers, and retail stores when products sexualize girls.

Understand. Young people often feel pressure to watch popular TV shows, listen to music their friends like, and conform to certain styles of dress. Help your daughter make wise choices among the trendy alternatives. Remind her often that who she is and what she can accomplish are far more important than how she looks.

Encourage. Athletics and other extracurricular activities emphasize talents, skills, and abilities over physical appearance. Encourage your daughter to follow her interests and get involved in a sport or other activity.

Educate. You may feel uncomfortable discussing sexuality with your kids, but it’s important. Talk about when you think sex is OK as part of a healthy, intimate, mature relationship. Ask why girls often try so hard to look and act sexy. Effective sex education programs discuss media, peer, and cultural influences on sexual behaviors and decisions, how to make safe choices, and what makes healthy relationships. Find out what your school teaches.

Be real. Help your kids focus on what’s really important: what they think, feel, and value. Help them build strengths that will allow them to achieve their goals and develop into healthy adults. Remind your children that everyone’s unique and that it’s wrong to judge people by their appearance.

Model. Marketing and the media also influence adults. When you think about what you buy and watch, you teach your sons and daughters to do so, too.

Link: apa.org/pi/wpo/sexualizationpar.html


There are a couple of caveats, though. One should make sure he knows what he’s doing and the girl in question won’t end up hating her body or neglecting hygiene or grooming or developing the big-bald-lesbian-feminist-in-an-undershirt kind of social habits and charm.


one thing parents should consider is a boycott on supporting the culture that oppresses women and denies their human dignity: don’t buy bratz for little girls, or sexy clothing, no bikinies, don’t by clothing from retailers that use aggressively sexual marketing methods (Abercrombie etc.), don’t allow any media into the home that promotes premature sexuality and awareness–TV, music, video games. Monitor what you listen to in the car radio, for instance, not just what your kids listen to. Don’t rent the movies, purchase the cable channels and shop at that stores that promote this anti-woman culture.


As always, Puzzleannie has said what I would have before I could get ther (something to do with the fact that I am Mountain Time and she is Central?)

Brenda V.




Another important point is to discuss and consider religious and other permanently celibate ways of life as acceptable and honorable. Much of the current popular culture is materialist in the sense that it views reproduction (not to say “procreation”) as a indispensable aspect of “success.” It is one of the echoes of “Social Darwinism.” This demeans everyone, by making “potential mating partner” an unavoidable category.

One of the important things that Nuns do for culture is to boldly present women who are important and interesting as persons, but who are removed from sexual considerations. This brings the true dignity of the human person to the fore.

Children need to realize that sexual intercourse is an option and not a requirement.

Pax Christi nobiscum.

John Hiner


I think it is worthwhile to let your children see great art, including nudes. They should know that the human body is a work of art. They shouldn’t be ashamed of their bodies in a prudish way, but see how we practice modesty to glorify creation just as we giftwrap wonderful presents to show their worth.

I have friends who are horrified to let their kids see nudes. I think this is a Protestant attitude and not a Catholic one.

I also talk to my daughters about young pop and movie stars are exploited. Recently, we saw a picture of Lindsey Lohan with her boobs hanging out. And, I said, “where is her father? he should be protecting her.”

We also talk about how beauty and sexuality is a gift that some abuse. It’s an easy way for some girls/women to get attention, but it comes with no respect.


Children need to realize that sexual intercourse is an option and not a requirement.

Disagree… It is a primal dispensation to reproduce / perpetuate the species. Humans are the only ones who have “self made rules” concerning this act. All other species mate when the female is fertile.

It is up to parenting to teach the proper time & place for this “option”…


He was just released from jail.


I do not follow what you are saying. Are you disavowing the value of celibacy and virginity chosen for the service of the Kingdom?

Both the sacrament of Matrimony and virginity for the Kingdom of God come from the Lord himself. It is he who gives them meaning and grants them the grace which is indispensable for living them out in conformity with his will. Esteem of virginity for the sake of the kingdom and the Christian understanding of marriage are inseparable, and they reinforce each other:

Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better than what is admitted to be good.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) sec. 1620
To deny the option to forswear sex in favor of other service to the Kingdom seems to contradict both the actions and the words of the Savior.

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and **there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. **He who is able to receive this, let him receive it." Matthew 19:12 (RSVCE)

My original point was urge that children should be told that the celibate way of life is both noble and respectable.

Spiritus Sapientiae nobiscum.

John Hiner


Amen to all of this!! But I was just going to post about the bratz; aren’t they just awful?? I have a friend who calls them “toy hookers”. Horrid image they must create in a child’s mind about how to dress. Blecch.


What genius decided Bratz were appropriate anyway? Oh wait! It was to get older girls back into playing with dolls.
sarcasm alert! But wait! Lets make them be their age by having them play with dolls again, but lets make them sleazy so girls want to play with them!


It is up to parenting to teach the proper time & place for this “option”…

A parent (s) are obligated to explain all the “options”… and the choice of celibate life is one of them. There is an equal obligation to explain that if a celibate life is chosen, you will have to suppress the natural internal urges of sex.

I’m not discrediting the nobility of this lifestyle, but a complete explanation is in order (to the level of the childs understanding at the time).

To deny the option to forswear sex in favor of other service to the Kingdom seems to contradict both the actions and the words of the Savior.

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it." Matthew 19:12 (RSVCE)

A biological inability to have sex is one thing, mutilation is another. (IMO not the answer either.)


Something else we need to avoid are shorts with writing across the rear - I saw two pair of shorts the other day with the word ‘juicy’ across the rear (I think it’ s a brand name.) The worst part?
It was a mother/daughter I know going into their catholic school for volleyball practice! Why would any mom want to draw attention to her 10 year old’s bottom? (or hers for that matter).


Fortunately, the Fathers of Nicaea (325 AD) agree with you. The Lord did not mean physical mutilation when He referred to making oneself a “eunuch for the Kingdom.” The first Canon of Nicaea bars anyone who has caused his own castration from the clergy. It even suspends already admitted clergy.

However, I am not sure “suppress” is the best way to express what is intended. Rather, God should be more important than even our selves, including our bodies. The choice against a natural and wholesome desire of the body, in favor of love of God is an eloquent expression of love. This is one of the dynamics of fasting which makes it so powerful a prayer – it says in more than words, Lord you are more important to me than my body and its urges. This is a powerful statement. Some demons cannot be cast out except by prayer and fasting. (See, Mark 9:28.)

Surly virginity and the vows of celibacy and chastity must be understood in this context. They are not suppressions, but perpetual forms of prayer.

Of course there are benefits besides the expressed meaning of these acts. Self-discipline is strengthened by fasting and one’s attitude toward food and the physical world is calibrated. Similarly, the energy of the libido is often transformed by celibacy into a great source of action on behalf of the Kingdom. This transformation from one drive to another is what Freud struggled to describe with the word “sublimation,” and under that term he credited most acts of high culture and civilization to this dynamic. However, Pope Benedict XVI describes the transformation more fully in his recent encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” which describes the fullness of erotic love in God’s love and our love of Him.

Pax Christi tecum.

John Hiner


Okay…I’m a guy, and some of my (orthodox) Catholic female friends wear shorts/sweatpants that are like this. Can one of the women on this forum explain to me WHY women are attracted to these? What’s the appeal of having writing on your butt?


This is an ugly and ignorant post…certainly not worthy of your normal charity and sensitivity and nothing that belongs on a Catholic website. Are you actually suggesting that poor hygience/grooming/preening can “turn” a young girl into a lesbian. This is akin to someone who finds swimming in pools or drinking out of fountains with those of other races objectionable. Shame on you.


I am a girl, and I have no idea…
Perhaps it’s the desire to wear what’s fashionable?


But why is that the benefit of it being fashionable seems to overweigh the disadvantage of it being sexualised? Sometimes there’s just no telling. The person is so attached to the idea of wearing a particular item or kind of clothing that you’ll keep hitting the wall, as if nothing were as important as wearing that. I don’t get it. Blaming it on sinful this or sinful that just doesn’t nail the problem. It must be something psychological.

Note: It’s been suggested to me by at least one female that women sometimes wear sexualised or, well, daring/revealing/clingy/whatever outfits not for the men but for other women. Some kind of competition. Something might be true in it.


Nope, I’m afraid you misunderstood me. I was pointing out that preventing desexualisation of girls was a sensitive matter and that care needed to be taken to avoid pushing the girl into self-pity or self-shame routines. If you basically put your foot down and tell her to cover up amidst a lot of verbal sabre-rattling, there is a chance she will start feeling ashamed of being a girl, or of her body, or of the fact she wants to be pretty or she would like for boys to see her as attractive. If she develops such patterns of thinking about herself, she may be pushed into angsty lifestyles popular amongst the youth. Parents are evil, no one understands me, I’m not pretty enough that anyone will care, I’m all alone, the world is a bad place, darkness is everywhere, you know the pattern.

I am suggesting the being inconsiderate may develop in the girl a lot of issues, from poor hygien to self-imposed perceived same sex attraction. This has nothing to do with races, so please don’t take shortcuts by lumping me with racists. It’s easy to defeat any argument like that, but it doesn’t really achieve anything. There is nothing in my post to suggest that poor hygiene leads to same sex attraction: that’s something you’re putting in my mouth and if you want to discuss that, fine, but you won’t be discussing it with me, but with yourself, for I didn’t say that. :wink: Look at the letter, don’t wonder what kind of spiteful message might be hidden between the verses. :slight_smile:

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