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Carol Roth

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Teach Girls to Be Smart, Not Sexy

Posted: 08/17/11 06:31 PM ET

A French Lingerie Company Jours Après Lunes has just unveiled a new line of child lingerie for girls as young as four years old (called "Loungerie"), featuring ridiculous, sexualized pictures of little girls. This comes on the heels (or should I say, rather, the high heels) of French Vogue's photo shoot featuring 10-year-old model Thylane Blondeau in some rather adult positions, makeup and clothing. I guess this is the next logical progression for the little girls on TLC's Toddlers and Tiaras that are wearing more spray tans, makeup and hairspray than a hooker on Sunset Boulevard.

It truly saddens me to see a regression in what we are teaching young girls. What kind of message does it send when we are placing top value on the way a person looks, along with the insinuation that to look good means to be a scantily clad, hip shaking, heavily made up trollop with hair to the heavens?

When my book, The Entrepreneur Equation, was initially presented by my publishers to book buyers from the major outlets, the feedback came back as, "She is too attractive to be taken seriously as a business author". While now that the book is a New York Times bestseller nobody has much to say, the fact that the initial response was a judgment that a woman couldn't be seen as attractive and credible or smart is shocking. They would never tell a man, "Joe, you are too handsome to be on your book cover and be taken seriously".

If I, as an accomplished business woman face that today, can you imagine what the after effects of all of this media being directed towards young women will be? The fact is that pretty and sexy focus on what's outside and not inside and even worse, is something that diminishes over time. Do we want to continue to foster a culture that says to women that their value decreases as they get older?

Instead of telling a young girl that she is pretty, develop her sense of self worth in other ways:

Praise her accomplishments and character. Focus on who she is as a person, her intelligence and her character, instead of focusing on her looks.

Tell her she's good enough. Remind her often that she's got what it takes to succeed.

Stop her when she's self-critical. There's a difference between having high standards and beating yourself up. Women and girls tend to be hard on themselves. Teach your girl to do the opposite.

Help her be honest, not nice. Teach her how to be polite, but honest. She'll garner more respect that way.

Tell her not to wait to be called on. Girls raise their hands and then wait for their cue to talk. Teach her to speak up and contribute her ideas before she is asked to.

Be a role model. Whether you are a man or a woman, focus on the worth of others outside of what they look like.

So, who do we want our daughters, nieces and the future women of this country to grow up to be, the President or a Playboy bunny? We need a collective effort from women and men to not only stop this ludicrous sexualization of young girls, but emphasize the benefits of being smart and accomplished. The next time you are tempted to tell a young girl how pretty she looks, think about what you can tell her about who she is, what she has accomplished and/or what she has to offer.


 

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