Pre-teen Girls and Sexualised Clothing: Setting the Boundaries


You may have seen a UK program entitled The Sex Education Show: Stop Pimping Our Kids earlier this year in which high street discount fashion retailer Primark was targeted for wrongly – at least in the opinions of concerned parents – marketing and selling mature clothing items for kids. Items which outraged mothers up and down the country included padded bras, g-strings and T-shirts bearing slogans such as “Come and Get Me” and “Hot Babe” for 7 year olds.

Recent news headlines also indicate that the UK government is concerned regarding the early sexualisation of children and as such the implementation of strict regulation to ensure that clothing manufacturers, retailers and publishes do not continue to promote the early sexualisation of children is being considered.

The eyes cannot un-see what they have already seen however and so you might be worried that it is already too late for your little one and that she will begin dressing like an adult before her due time.

Here are some tips you can follow to ensure that your own daughter dresses appropriately and without making a fuss:

Try to Limit Exposure to Sexualised Media

It can be a difficult challenge trying to convince your daughter that dressing provocatively is the wrong thing to do when the TV, newspapers and endless magazines are adorned with female celebrities and chart toppers doing exactly that!

According to Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, adolescent girls feel incredibly self conscious after watching music videos in which female pop stars are scantily clad. This can see young girls more easily giving into pressure from their peers to dress in a particular way, thinking that they will be left friendless should they not hop aboard the current fashion bandwagon. Try then, to limit the amount of time that music videos channels are on in your home and if you or an older child is a fan of celebrity fashion/gossip magazines, be sure to keep them out of reach (I would suggest that such magazines are not read until girls are at least 14 years of age).

Teaching your child not to worship at the temple of celebrity in favour of more positive role models is wise. You need to make it clear that celebrities are entertainers as and such, the same rules of conduct do not apply. Keeping a close eye on the websites that are accessed by your young female child is also a smart idea, as is using parental controls to restrict their access to mature content.

Talk to Your Daughter Prior to Clothes Shopping

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Leaving it until you have arrived at a clothing store to discuss what is and isn’t appropriate for your daughter to wear could cause unnecessary drama and public squabbling. Before you hit the shops with your young lady in tow then, you should sit down and explain to her that some items will be “too old” in design and establish what exactly you will and won’t allow her outfits to comprise. 

Just some of the rules I set for my own (now-16 year old) daughter when she was younger included:

  • All knickers must be full briefs and “no bras before boobs”;
  • Skirts above the knee in length must be worn with tights;
  • No clothing can include sexual or suggestive slogans and/or logos and
  • No shoes with heels above 2.5 inches.

Only when your daughter agrees to abide by your clothing guidelines should you begin to part with your cash in order to fill her wardrobe.


Don’t Give in to Pester Power

Your daughter might on occasion yell “Hey Mum, come and look at this!” whilst you are out clothes shopping together. If you approach her and she has fallen in love with an item that does not fit within your rules for her attire immediately place hang the item back on the rack and say “Remember the rules…”

Although this move might see your child kick up an embarrassing fuss, if you allow your daughter to have that short dress with glittery “NAUGHTY BUT NICE” slogan emblazoned across the front, or pair of pink short shorts then you can bet your bottom dollar that she’ll desire – and expect – similar items to be purchased the next time you shop!

Bonus Tip: Allow Your Daughter to Choose Her Clothes

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This advice might seem odd in the wake of previous points in this article but allowing your child to select her own clothes – which do adhere to the guidelines you have put in place – will see her resent your far less than if you were to enforce complete control over her attire.

Allowing her to select her own garments should see the two of you reach a satisfactory compromise and this in turn will teach her that attractive clothing does not have to be that which reveals a lot of chest or thigh.

Fortunately, the six year old daughter of Kat Whitmarsh – the author of this guest blog – is currently more interested in cubbies and play equipment than she is sexy clothing! Her teenage daughter on the other hand…