(Note: Some readers may find some of the images in the links below offensive given their highly sexual nature.)
When people say “hijab sexualizes little girls”, I don’t see it.
What I do see is that we live in a day and age where little girls are sexualized all the time. I’m talking about:
- One third of the clothing currently marketed towards young girls has “sexualizing characteristics”
- A French fashion house released a line of lingerie for girls age 4 to 12
- Girls as young as six think of themselves as sex objects and want to be thought of as sexy
- Due to the sexualization of children, body hair is now a reason why little girls are getting bullied
Toy, clothing, and makeup manufacturers refer to this incessant push towards sexualizing little girls as KGOY, which stands for “Kids Getting Older Younger”. In other words, corporations are intentionally profiting off major psychological distress they are imposing on children.
- Concern with body image convinces girls that they are less smart
- Consumption of “barely legal porn” creates a correlation in the brain between nonsexual images of prepubescent girls and sexual vocabulary (same link as above)
- Some teachers believe girls of color are by default “hypersexualized” and therefore not as capable of succeeding academically (This is probably why Westerners think hijab sexualizes – they already view our little girls as brainless babes only meant for sexual gratification therefore the bias informs the findings)
- Sexualization often comes with eating disorders like anorexia, depression, and/or a decrease in self esteem
- Sexualization of little girls is actually a way to reinforce a culture’s sexism and not about being sexy
Isn’t it ironic? Western societies are blaming Muslims for something that the Western societies have started and perpetrated themselves. Where did the highly sexualized child pageant industry come from? Not the Middle East! But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the American Psychological Association’s own admission that American sexualization of prepubescent girls is actually being exported to Muslim lands, amongst other places:
Muslims should be the ones up in arms about the Western sexualization of little girls, but instead somehow we’re on the defensive because our religion protects girls and women from becoming sexual objects by privatizing sexuality!
The real irony is, however, that several of the websites written by Western organizations to Western families on how to stop the sexualization of their girls include advice like, “encourage your daughter to have an identity that goes deeper than her appearance”
Hello! That’s exactly what hijab does when observed properly – it creates an identity in the girl based on what she does and what she knows. This has been shown through several studies. A study on British women who wear hijab reveals:
In addition to the quote from Swami et al, “Muslim American women who engage in Islamic dress standards show better adjustment in college environments by reaching out to other Muslim women on campus”, ” individuals practicing hijab in a New Zealand sample reported greater life satisfaction and fewer symptoms of psychological distress”, and women who wear hijab “in the United States reported lower experiences of sexual objectification and more opportunity to act freely in a sexist society”.
Someone once told me that Islam is a mirror and what you see when you look at it is a reflection of the purity or impurity of your own soul. I am starting to see this more frequently, and has it ever been more obvious than people up in arms over the so-called forced sexualization of little girls in hijab. These people are absolutely blind to the fact that their own little girls are being very aggressively sexualized and that Islam itself has the answer to the very problem they complain about – keeping women’s bodies private and raising daughters to see their worth in how they contribute to society, and not how sexy they can dress.
Further Reading: The Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman