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Too Young to be Hot
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here's this week's!

Nothing makes a teenager seem younger than one trying to act like an adult. They may get the lingo right, but watch them for a few minutes and you realize they’re totally clueless about what they’re doing.

When a 13-year-old girl asks on Facebook, “Do I look sexy in this picture?”, for instance, I think she honestly means, “Do I look pretty and sophisticated?” I don’t think she’s asking, “Does this picture make me look attractive enough to the opposite sex that they would want to jump in bed with me?” But that’s what the phrase means. It invites other people to look specifically at the girl’s figure, not at her eyes. Young girls just don’t quite understand that, because they really don’t understand the male sex drive yet. They don’t even understand their own.

I’ve been rudely awakened to the Facebook lives of young teens lately as I have “friended” a ton of my children’s friends. My first impression was one of sadness. Too many kids feel such a rush to grow up. But it’s even sadder that their idea of growing up is something so shallow and rather destructive.

So here’s some honest advice to today’s teens: talking about whether or not you are sexy makes you seem naïve, stupid, and on the prowl. You may think that you’re simply portraying a “sophisticated” persona, so that boys will want to go with you to the movies, but sexy means far more than that. So does “hot”. When you say a guy is “hot”, you mean that the sight of him makes you want to have sex with him. It doesn’t mean you might want a nice good-night kiss. It doesn’t mean that you want someone to hold your hand. It means something far more than that. Is that really the message you want to give out?

Both girls and guys play this game, and while it’s dumb and degrading, it may not be overly dangerous on the schoolyard. But it’s not staying on the schoolyard. When a 13-year-old girl dresses provocatively because she wants other 13-year-old boys to ask her out, and then she goes and hangs out at the mall, she may not realize that she’s getting stared at by more than just 13-year-old boys.

I know lots of young girls who easily look five or six years older than they actually are, simply by virtue of the clothes they wear. Do they really want to be getting that kind of attention from guys who are that much older? After all, girls, those guys are looking not because they want to take you on a nice moonlit walk, or put their arm around you while they watch the next Twilight movie. They’re looking because they want far more.

I was recently talking to a couple of 17-year-old boys about this sexualized trend in young girls, and the thing that bothered them most was short shorts. “They’re already short,” explained one boy. “But then these girls go and cut them even shorter, so that you can actually see the bottom of the pocket hanging below the hem! Please, girls, no pockets!”

All of us want connection, and our society has taught kids that connection is mostly found in some sort of a sexual relationship. We shouldn’t be surprised when girls internalize this and start dressing and acting the part. But when you share everything with everybody, you’re not really being intimate with anyone. If you want real intimacy, you have to save something that can only be shared with one person. So please, girls, stop talking about boys being hot. Stop asking if you’re “sexy or not”. And above all, no pockets. Treat yourself with some respect, and then maybe others will respect you, too.

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At 1:37 PM , Blogger Megan said…

Amen! This article sparks so many thoughts for me. First, I'm thankful that my 12-year-old niece is naturally modest. Actually, I'm concerned that she might be tooo modest, but that's another issue altogether.

Second, I remember how frustrated my family felt when my teenage nephew's girlfriend kept dressing provocatively, wanting to show him her new bikini and the like. Even my nephew was terribly uncomfortable with it, as he always treated girls with respect (and had a few friends who had been sexually abused). Eventually my parents had to ask her to dress more modestly. When I told this story to my office mate, she didn't see the problem..."if she wants to provoke him, what's wrong with that? They are teenagers." Seriously??

Third, and finally, I CANNOT believe the clothes and swimwear I've seen in stores lately for toddlers!! There is no way I'm dressing my 2 1/2 year old daughter like that! There's no way I'd let her dress herself like that, if she was TEN years older! What on earth has gotten into these designers and marketers???


At 2:49 PM , Blogger adge said…

I agree with this post. It deserves an amen. I think all young girls need to read this. I wish I had when I was in my teens.


At 9:27 PM , Blogger Michelle said…

Amen! I've tried very hard not to call my daughter hot, sexy, or whistle when I have dressed her over the years. These are all things I heard growing up. I had a friend exclaim to me over the Christmas holidays that my daughter was naive for her age compared to her daughter. They're only 6. I'm happy my daughter still enjoys watching the same shows her 3 year old brother does. I love that she enjoys praise and worship cds and Lambchop sing alongs to Hannah Montana. These are our children. Let us treat them as such.


At 9:49 PM , Blogger mamalena said…

Adults too need to think twice about calling themselves a "Hot Mama" etc. Lovely, beautiful, winsome, kind, These are human traits....when we refer to people as "HOT" we are making an object out of them. Children are learning this from adults. We need to stop trying to be sex objects just as much as do young people.


At 11:39 AM , Blogger Allie said…

I don't think young girls fully understand the vibe they are giving off. That's why kids need parents, right?


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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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