• Toymakers, Stop Sexualizing Our Children

    April 20, 2010 3:48 pm 12 comments
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    Karen Gray

    It is a well known fact that toymakers and other business entrepreneurs tend to heavily market for the ‘tween’ to teenage demographic. This cohort is dependent on parents (read, no major financial responsibilities), yet have enough access to cash to have significant buying power.

    Another adage, which is sadly true: sex sells. When sexualized marketing techniques are used on adults, it is one thing and a matter of an adult making a responsible decision to like the product or not. When sexualized marketing is actively and consistently targeting our children, we have a major problem.

    Yes, parents should hold the chief responsibility in assuming what toys, media and clothing their younger children may get hold to; that is the fact every parent should understand when giving birth to a child.

    The problem is that we are a highly commercial society, not all parents actively dissuade their children (especially daughters) from being sexualized at too early an age by media and last but certainly not least, hours upon hours of a kid’s life is spent away from parents, at school.

    At school, there exists peer pressure. Young pre-teen girls sometimes wear pants that say “Juicy” on the but and have exposed jmidriffs. Somehow, this sexualization makes them ‘cool’.

    They emulate dolls that are known as bratz, which through 1) media marketing 2) cartoons 3) clothing paraphernalia 4) mimicking the dress of highly public media figures of older age (Britney Spears, Christina Aguilerra…), we have a culture that seemingly worships skantily clad and exposed 11-year-olds born. These girls think that to be popular and ‘hip’, they should feel sexual and act accordingly.

    These are not appropriate dolls:

    So we wonder why we have the problem with sexualization? Yes, there are lazy parents, but there is also a constantly decreasing line of common-sense and decency with business ethics. The daughter is the bottom line, and if that means making girls think they have to be little ‘sluts’ to make that dollar, P.R. folks and marketing executives are saying, ‘so be it’. They are flooding our society with so many sexualized things that it’s becoming impossible for children not to be exposed, at too young an age or before parents deem their children ready to even discuss such things. That’s a major problem.

    There is really no way to actively combat this; boycotts really will not work (too widespread and teens have too much liquid buying power) and one cannot hide their child away from friends and peers; they will be exposed. At the 11-year-old to 15-year-old age, droll parenting lectures tend to be in one ear and out the other.

    There needs to be more discussion of this issue on the national level, and companies that go overboard in targeting the developing sexual whims in small children should be outed in public media. It will take public attention and quorums to curb this dangerous trend.

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    About The Author
    Karen Gray Karen Gray is a student of journalism at LMU and international events columnist for the CW.

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