What mothers say about a 9-year-old dressed like this
This is pop star Miley Cyrus’s little sister Noah at a Halloween party last weekend. It’s not the first time little Noah has been sent out on the red carpet in an outfit that is, ahem, a little old for her.
And not surprisingly it drew a pretty quick knee-jerk response from commentators right around the world. OUTRAGE! But is it really that bad?
The Punch decided to ask the people at the coal face of the battle against the growing sexualistion of children, mothers with young daughters, what an image like this did to their efforts to stop their little girls growing up too fast.
Don’t miss our body image special on The Punch tomorrow morning. You won’t believe your eyes.
The strongest theme from their answers was that as a parent, it was their responsibility to use the word “No”. Almost all said their own daughters would never leave the house dressed like this. And others thought Noah just looked like a little girl playing dress ups.
But many said tween celebrities, such as Noah, who’s sister Miley is a HUGE star in the under 12 set, gives their daughters unrealistic expectations about what’s appropriate.
Others said it was actually hard to find clothes for little girls that weren’t just mini-versions of what a 22-year-old might wear to a nightclub.
I’ll let them speak for themselves. It makes for very interesting reading.
Nadine: Two daughters, 9 and 7
At 5yrs my eldest daughter said to me “Mummy, when can I start to lose weight?” I was perplexed, upon further questioning she admitted that she had seen some ads on TV for the Biggest Loser, I point out that she had never watched an episode, but even from the ad she had picked up the salient points. She said to me “but mummy, if you lose weight you are a winner, I want to be a winner”!
At 6, she asked when can she wear a bra, and on a visit to Target or Kmart found a child sized g string and wanted to have one of those too. I can’t work out the point of g-strings for adults let alone 6yr olds! There are then the persistent questions about make up, bras, skimpy clothes, high boots, heels etc. When I say no, she points to friends, cartoon characters, pop singers and the Miley Cyrus’s of this world as proof as to why she should be allowed to be doing/having those things.
Yes, it is a big deal. No matter how much I protect my girls, I will not wrap them up in cotton wool and they will be exposed to these images. they are children, by definition young and impressionable, ergo, they will be influenced by the pictures themselves and by their peers. And they will want what Noah has, no matter how inappropriate that is.
Fiona: Daughter aged 7
Looks like a girl just playing dress ups in adult clothes and like she’s done her own makeup. The girl actually looks quite self-conscious and uncomfortable in the outfit. I asked my 7 year-old daughter if she thought the girl looked nice or not. Her answer was a simple “no”, and then she walked away. It’s no big deal.
Annabelle: Two daughters, 9 and 3
I do find it sad that our children are trying to grow up too quickly and are not encouraged to enjoy their childhood. These pictures just reinforce this attitude and make it difficult as a parent to say no, I don’t want you to wear that type of clothing. I had to explain to my 9 year old that I wouldn’t let her dress like Brittany Spears for last years Halloween Disco party, how ever appropriate!
They are not happy just going as witches and ghosts anymore. It is also really hard to find clothing for my daughter that isn’t black, short skirted, with glitter or bling all over it and with phases that I wouldn’t be comfortable for a teenager to wear, let alone a 9 year old child.
Jen: Two daughters, 7 and 4
It doesn’t immediately concern me in terms of my two daughters, because they don’t seem to want to dress like this – whether disinterested because of their age or a sense of style, I don’t know. I do worry for young girls who (or whose parents) are so obsessed with fashion and TV in their pre-teens, but possibly more because they’re missing out on the wonderful experiences of childhood than because of any issue with ‘growing up too fast’.
I want for my daughters many experiences and a life of balance. Yes they can watch High School Musical but then they go outside to play catch and climb trees. I also spend time with them discussing how they are smarter, stronger and more interesting than some of the stuff we read and see.
Jayne: Daughter aged 9
The thing that worries me about this picture is not that I can’t deal with it in my own home - because I talk to my daughter about what I believe is appropriate for ‘little girls’, i.e clothing/make-up which is ot derivative of ‘sexy’ clothing for women. But I get bothered by the idea that other parents who may not see what I (and others) see - little girls growing up too soon. Maybe they see Noah and because she’s ‘famous’ think it’s cool. Then, when their own little girls are running around in mini skirts and f*&% me boots (come on we all know that’s what they’re called) then my daughter looks and think, ‘That’s what I want to wear’ - because this is her peer group.
It’s easy to keep the crazy Cyruses at a distance but it’s harder to dissuade my daughter from wanting to be like the girls she might mix with socially.
Georgia: Daughter aged 6
My daughter loves dressing up, wearing make up and silly shoes, which is what this little girl has done. However, most of the dressing up is done at home with friends. Noah Cyrus’s outfit is OK, with the exception of the length of the dress. It is really too short, and for a public outing a little inappropriate, even for Halloween.
My daughter recently went to a disco party, and I pulled out all sorts of silly things for her to wear. She fell in love with a top that made her look like Donna Sommers, in her hey day. I felt it was too grown up because it was so short, and just had a weird feeling that I couldn’t articulate to her or myself. In the end we found a much more fun outfit to wear involving stupid wigs and big earrings and a long dress.
Does this sort of photo make it hard to keep my child from growing up too fast? Absolutely. She is too young right now to be aware of this sort of thing, but I know I will be competing with the world about how to dress my child, and in the end she will find her own style influenced by her peers, magazines and perhaps myself. In the meantime, we will find better, funnier and outrageous but more appropriate things to get her to try on and have a laugh at.
Mandy: Daughter, almost 3
I read a thought provoking book recently: What’s Happening to Our Girls? Too much, Too soon, How our kids are overstimulated, oversold and oversexed.
I’m very concerned about how much information is available to young kids now days, especially through the internet. I’m saddened by the loss of innocence of young girls ... the inability of girls to enjoy their childhood without being self conscious and needing to conform. Related to this is bullying ... another huge issue facing our kids. A sad by-product of oversexualisation is the highly promiscuous nature of many of today’s young and sexual relationships without any notion of intimacy.
I don’t want to be an overprotective parent but I believe it’s important to try to be aware of what may harm my daughter and to keep the lines of communication with my daughter open.
Lara: Daughter aged 2
I can remember my Mum being mortified when, at the age of 9, I came home with Madonna bangles and a feather hair piece in my hair that I’d borrowed from a friend – that said, it was harmless and she drew the line at cone shaped bra’s and black leggings – seriously. I was allowed to play but wasn’t allowed to ‘be’ my idol. It was all relative and though Mum allowed me to have pictures of Madonna on my wall, I was in no uncertain terms allowed to pretend I was her. It was make believe and something that I have followed up with my kids today.
Age appropriate behavior is entirely up to parents so, does it scare me for my daughter in the years ahead? No, because she has a mother who had a mother who knew what she was doing and therefore she won’t go off the rails but God Help the Cyrus kids, I fear that when Mum has lost the plot it’s a sure fire guarantee that at some point in their life, the kid will lose the plot too.
Serena: Daughter, aged 5
My mother always said that young girls should never wear black and it is a rule I follow with Annie. And that also means that it goes without saying that my daughter will not wear clothes that are too tight, too short or too slutty and young Noah’s outfit is all of the above. Oh and one of my staff just alerted me to the fact that F-Me boots probably don’t have a place in a 9 year old’s wardrobe either! Let kids be kids for as long as they can.
Marina: Daughter, nearly 3
It looked cheap and nasty. Definitely portraying the wrong image for a little girl. Does a girl that age really understand the image she is portraying? Rather irresponsible of the parent I think. Then I thought maybe she is going fancy dress for Halloween… I just think little girls should not wear black, dark eye make up, short skirts with long high healed boots. Just no style really – no matter the age.
Liza: Two daughters, 2 and 4
Does Noah Cyrus look like a hooker? Yes. Does it set a bad example for ‘normal kids’? Yes. But at the end of the day it is up to ‘normal parents’ to say ‘no’ when their own children nag that they too, want to go trick or treating dressed as hookers. I appreciate this is easier said than done, but it is not impossible.
Natalie: Daughter aged 8
I don’t see a problem with it. What many commentators fail to understand is that many children do not interpret things sexually. My daughter saw this photo yesterday and her only comment was how cool it looked. She did not say that Noah looked like a tart or that her skirt was too short or that she looked sexy. She thought “cool” because of the whole “We Love Vampires” phenomena at the moment. I highly doubt that my daughter now wants me to run out and by her a pair of “FM’s”!
I think us adults have an awful lot to answer for. We are turning these pure, innocent minds, into minds that feel they have to label everyone and have everyone fit into a particular category. The world would be a much better place if children were simply taught that it is OK to be who you are and the old adage of not judging a book by it’s cover. Little girls don’t see provocative - we do.
I really feel sorry for Noah. Some of the names I have seen this poor 9 year old called are atrocious and can quite possibly scar this little girl for life - but hey, at least the do-gooders of this world have had their say.
Kay: Daughter aged 5
I don’t care if it is a Halloween party, there is no way I would ever let my daughter out dressed like that. She is 9, not 19 and she looks like she should be walking the streets. I wonder what the toy companies who were obviously sponsors think of it all? My daughter is 5 and I try very hard to buy her age appropriate clothing. I think it is my responsibility as a parent to do this. She is not old enough to be making decisions yet about how the world perceives her. She is a child. Let her be one.
Kirsti: Daughter aged 6
My first reaction is holy crap! And second is that I wouldn’t want my 6yo to see that picture. I consider myself a pretty relaxed and moderate mother - albeit it with a strong feminist background. Essentially I think there’s a middle ground that most mothers I know walk – we allow Barbies (mainly because Bratz look Barbie look like a choir girl!), glittery bits and bobs, and small amounts of make up for play only – mostly lip gloss.
But I don’t know any mother who would feel comfortable with that photo. I think most would consider Noah an extreme example…although a dangerous one as many, many young girls (my daughter included) adore her older sister.
Most mothers I know are very uncomfortable with the more common yet insidious representations of the sexualisation of young girls – Bratz dolls, mini bra tops for under 10s, the way women dress and behave in music videos and so on. Those things are banned in our house.
I was also very uncomfortable with the idea of my then 4yo having the bikini she desperately wanted…until I remembered that’s all I wanted when I four, my mother relented and I turned into a perfectly well adjusted feminist with a healthy body image! So I relented on the bikini.
Bernadette: Daughter aged 10
Yeah, not cool.
The boots for a start. We all know they are referred to as CFM boots (come f… me) so what’s she doing wearing them up her thighs to meet her incredibly short dress. Luckily, at 10, unless they are a Trump, they still cannot go out and purchase their own goods, so it comes down to the parents. BTW, when I was ten, it was all about the Cabbage Patch dolls and Ra-ra skirts.
Rachel: Daughter aged 3
I think it is absolutely frightening that a mother would allow her daughter out the front door looking like this.
Sam: Daughter aged 4
All wrong! There is no way I would let my daughter out looking like that until she was too old for me to stop her.
Renee: Daughters aged 3 and 8 months
Our girls will always want to grow up more quickly than we them to. It would be difficult, dare I say impossible, to reign in this fundamental human response.
Further, I am confident that I will be able to explain to my daughters that even though this child is dressed in such an over-the-top manner it would rarely be appropriate for my daughters to do so, much in the same way I will no doubt have to explain that while the models in magazines get around in bras knickers and stilettos it would probably not be in my daughters best interests to do so.
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