A new study found that girls as young as six are the target of clothing firms which are coming out with products that sexualize kids by accenting certain parts of the body and reducing waist size.
The study is no surprise to Les Bradford, co-founder of Youth Ministry 360, known for its “Live Different: What the Bible Says About Sex and Holiness" Bible study curriculum, especially considering that sexual expression “invades our culture in so many different levels.”
The recent study, conducted by Sarah Mullen, professor at Kenyon College in Ohio, studied 15 clothing websites from high-end fashion to junior U.S. markets, according to AFP.
Her team of students looked at 5,666 clothing items and used a grading system depending on “the sexiness” of the garments.
According to her findings, 69 percent had child-like characteristics such as a top with a butterfly print in pastel colors.
About 25 percent included both sexualizing and childlike characteristics.
Four percent had sexualizing elements such as lingerie-like fabric or leopard and zebra prints. And one percent had neither sexualized nor child-like characteristics.
“Confused parents might be persuaded to buy the leopard-pink miniskirt if it’s bright pink. Clearly, sexiness is still visible beneath the bows or tie-dye colors,” the study stated.
Abercrombie for kids is one of the biggest clothing stores that sells sexualizing clothes in “tween” or pre-teen stores, the study found. In 2002, the retailer created controversy when it sold thongs in children’s sizes with “wink wink” and “eye candy” printed across its front.
The study’s authors stated that there are high demands for clothes that help kids follow the cultural trends of slimness and sexuality. They found that the trend can lead to various forms of psychological problems such as depression, low self-esteem, low confidence and body dissatisfaction.
On that note, Bradford commented to The Christian Post, “It's no secret that the culture that we live in glorifies sexual expression in so many ways that is neither biblical nor wholesome.”
“We have certainly seen the pressures that culture impresses upon teenagers as young as what you just mentioned, six years old.”
Bradford emphasized that before telling kids what is wrong and what not to do, it is important “to empower kids and teens and encourage them with things they should be doing” instead.
While parents and church play an important role in children’s lives, maintaining a proper understanding of God’s plan for marriage and for sex and teaching kids about holiness and leaving temptation is one of the most important priorities, Bradford said, especially when role models like Miley Cyrus are inclined to defend themselves when they push the sexualizing boundaries.
“God wants you to live a holy life and this culture is not just about sex or sexual expression as well. The way you dress as a teenager has a lot of implications,” Bradford remarked.
His reminder to Christian kids: “You draw people to Christ in your actions, you draw people to Christ in the way you present yourself and the things that you say and the things that you wear.”