Hand holding a magazine showing an underage model

What Parents Can Do to Combat Sexualization

Are you worried about the impact sexualization has on the kids in your life? You're not alone!

Quality research shows us that the sexualization of girls and women is harmful to our children, contributing to issues like:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Depression
  • Societal tolerance of sexual violence 
  • The exploitation of girls and women

What is sexualization?

The sexualization of girls can refer to girls being depicted or treated as sexual objects. It also refers to sexuality that is inappropriately imposed on girls through media, advertising or products – like push up bras and thongs marketed to children or ads of young girls in “sexy” poses.

How to take action

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But there are ways you can take action against sexualization.

First off, get informed – read up on sexualization. Then, find opportunities to talk about these issues with your kids. Not sure where to begin? Try some of the tactics listed below.

  1. Co-view: meet your kids where they’re at. Watch tv shows and YouTube videos, read magazines and discuss books and listen to songs your children are interested in. If you see sexualization or harmful stereotypes, this is the perfect time to talk about them.
  2. Model good behaviour: kids are influenced by what you wear, the language you use and the priorities you make in life. Think about the magazines you read and the movies you watch – are they contributing to harmful stereotypes of masculinity and femininity?
  3. Be prepared: practice answering or speaking to difficult questions/statements like, “What does being sexy mean?” or “I like looking sexy”.
  4. Get help: talk to other parents who have similar-aged children to share ideas and give support.
  5. Be a conscious consumer: choose products with positive messaging and boycott the ones that reinforce sexualized images and messaging.
  6. Pick positive role models: there are so many amazing women in the media - Alicia Keys, Taylor Swift, Ellen Degeneres, Johanna Wagstaffe, Christine Sinclair, etc. Encourage your kids to pay attention to these women.
  7. Be proactive: discuss what healthy relationships and friendships look like and how they will positively impact your child’s life.