While it is an issue that I was concerned about, I didn't expect it to become relevant for us for a good few years yet. So I was rather shocked when a shop assistant in our local supermarket commented to my two year old that she looked "sexy" in her new sunglasses. At first, I was a bit disturbed but just left the shop quickly, thinking that I would talk to my Other Half about this later, to see what he thought about it. As I thought more about it, the more disgusted I was and when I later told the Other Half, he was outraged and immediately called the supermarket (he's much better at making complaints than I am, being more verbose and more able to make a clear argument). I am not going to name and shame them because the supermarket instantly apologised and seem to be taking it seriously. When asked to give a description of the member of staff in question, I also pointed out that the staff in this store are usually polite and appropriately talkative with my daughter.
This incident will not affect my Little Monster, I am sure. She doesn't seem to remember it at all, or at least hasn't mentioned it. I doubt she has any concept whatsoever what the word "sexy" means. But the fact that a grown up thought it appropriate to use that word in reference to a toddler is disturbing. I do not believe that this woman was a paedophile or seriously meant that she found my daughter sexually appealing. If I had, I probably would have made a formal complaint at the time. From other experiences of hearing this word thrown about, occasionally in reference to someone far too young for it to be appropriate, I honestly don't think some people consider what they're actually saying and what affect it could have on a child.
Children are extremely impressionable. Now, I'm not saying we should wrap our children in cotton wool. If she asks me where babies come from, I will be fairly honest, probably emphasising the biology of the process. But I do not want her to mature too early. Some of the clothes I see little girls wearing do disgust me. I recall seeing a little girl, perhaps aged about seven, with "In your dreams" written across her t-shirt and wondering why on earth a parent would let their daughter wear that. A girl of that age might perhaps know what sex is through asking questions but should she really have a concept of sexual desire? I think not. Frankly, I would be far more upset if my daughter described herself as "sexy" during her childhood than if she uttered a swear word. Perhaps others will disagree with me. Perhaps others will think me old fashioned, that I am behind the times and need to accept that society is changing. But what exactly is it changing into? The kind of place where a child should be thinking about looking sexy? I sincerely hope not.
I will end this post on this point. Women have fought to be seen as equals, to be able to work and have careers, to have all the same rights as men. But now females seem to be taught from a very young age that looking attractive is supremely important. Is this not a gigantic step backwards? Why are we not teaching our children that what's on the inside is far more important? Of course I tell my little girl that she looks pretty in a new dress. But I praise her far more when she learns to recognise a new letter or counts from one to ten without my help. Those are the things to be proud of, surely.
I would welcome the views of others on this subject so please comment with your opinion on this issue.