The NSPCC has warned that children are being sexualised by magazines, television programmes and dolls for five-year-olds dressed in fishnet tights.
The charity has told the Scottish Parliament that lines were being blurred by manufacturers who printed inappropriate slogans on girls’ clothes and promoted high heels for babies, and magazines using child-like models.
The makers of Bratz dolls were particularly criticised for using outfits with fishnet tights and mini skirts.
A spokesman for MGA Entertainments, the company behind Bratz, defended the dolls by claiming they were “conservatively dressed by today’s standards”.
The warning came as the NSPCC gave evidence to an equal opportunities committee of MSPs who are considering whether or not to launch an inquiry into the issue.
Tom Narducci of the NSPCC said: “The use of sexual imagery is now more pervasive than before and it does give a very disturbing perspective on girls and young women.
“For girls, it’s all about being more attractive to a man. For boys, it’s all about looking at girls as sexual objects because that is what they are being trained to become.”
There were indications that the committee was inclined to make moves towards legislation in the area.
The committee’s Conservative convener, Margaret Mitchell, said: “There is a lot of material to work on, but there is also a lack of proper research, which the committee could carry out.
“This is a subject that concerns people widely and one I think we are keen to pursue, but that ultimately is for the committee members to decide.”