http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/files/money/sexy/index.html CBC MARKETPLACE: YOUR FINANCES » MARKETING TO KIDS Buying into Sexy: The sexing up of tweens Broadcast: January 9, 2005 When you were nine, what did you want? A Barbie doll? A train set? These days, young boys and girls are hungry for something else: padded bras and flirting tips, video games with bikini-clad babes and music videos that feature plenty of sexual innuendo. Sex has always sold, but now it’s children that are buying. Tweens, kids aged eight to 14, are a hot target for companies. And now more than ever, sex is being used to get their dollars. An advertisement for a pre-teen girls clothing company Tweens are being bombarded with sexy images by the makers of clothes, toys, video games, music videos -- all aimed at getting this freshly- coveted demographic to buy, buy and buy some more. To get a sense of their world, we spend a day with 12-year-old Amanda. "Tweens, we don’t want to be kids anymore,” she says. “But I guess we also don’t want to have all this responsibility, we just want to have fun.” We decide to tally up how many sexed-up images Amanda sees in an average day. We wake her up at her mom’s house at 7:00 to start our count. Her bedroom is bright pink, from the walls to the bedspread. Plastic stars dangle from the ceiling. Amanda, 12, says 'You get more attention' when you wear sexy clothes. “I think that whole glittery thing is still a little bit of the child in her,” says Amanda’s mom, Alma. “She’s still got a bit of that, but now … it’s more of a sexy look. "I think it’s just the influence of pop stars. I don’t think it’s that she wants to look sexy. Not for boys. I don't think she's even noticed boys yet.” Early in the day, from tween magazines, the internet and television, our count of sexy images is already at 126. Then Amanda heads out shopping with two friends, Natasha and Alexia. At the mall, there are entire chains devoted to tween shoppers: stores full of racy clothing, make-up and even lingerie for girls who may not have hit puberty. This padded bra from La Senza Girl is size “30 AA.” (The national average bra size is “36 C.”) Amanda jokes that it wouldn't fit her three-year-old cousin. “When you're that young, you don't really need a bra,” says Amanda. “I guess it just makes them feel more mature.” Alexia picks up a tiny pink bra. She holds it up to her chest to show how small it is. Amanda jokes that the La Senza bra wouldn’t fit her three-year-old cousin. After the shopping trip we ask the girls why they like to buy sexy clothes. “You get more attention,” says Amanda. “And strange guys come up to you and try and get you to go to nightclubs.” “A lot of guys stare,” adds Natasha. MORE: Buying into bimbo: What the boys think » Amanda, Natasha and Alexia Alexia brings up another tween fad: "sex bracelets." They’re cheap, colourful jelly bracelets that Alexia says carry sexual connotations: “Pink means ‘kiss,’ blue means ‘blow job’ and white means 'lap dance' ... If a guy pulls it off you, it means you have to do it. But most girls don’t do the stuff. They just wear them for fun. I think they look cool and they’re like fun to play with.” Wearing so-called “sex bracelets” doesn’t mean kids are having sex. In fact, the "secret meanings" allegedly embedded in the bracelets seem to be believed more by adults than by the kids themselves. That said, the bracelet phenomenon is another example of how kids’ sexual awareness is high. “I feel there’s pressure because everyone else wears [sexy clothes]," says Amanda. "You don’t want to be left out,” says Alexia. “Yeah, yeah. And you don't want to be a loner,” adds Amanda. Whether the alleged 'secret meanings' behind so-called 'sex bracelets' is true, the fad is another example of how kids' sexual awareness is high. “Some parents don’t want their children dressing that way,” says Alexia. “But then I find that just makes kids want to do it more,” quips Amanda. “If you chain your children too much they’ll just do it anyway ‘cause they’re trying to get you angry,” adds Alexia. “People change in the washrooms at school when they get there,” says Amanda. “That’s what I used to do,” says Alexia. By the end of the day, including our visit to the mall, Amanda has seen about 280 sexy images.