Personally, I don't consider the original anime characters to be sexy. The art just doesn't do it for me. I think the sex appeal is way overrated, but I do think they're cute. The manga, however, is sexy.
It's real peoples' behaviors and the depictions of real people that influence society to mistreat women based on their appearance and clothing. Sure, those elements are present in cartoons, but a cartoon depiction of strong girls who do positive acts and happen to have cute clothes, is not part of that problem. Clothing is not what makes bad behavior. It's the mentality that it does.
The cartoons that depict girls as helpless, unintelligent, and other negative stereotypes, are so much more harmful than just a simple short skirt. If children had resources, good influences, and a healthy environment throughout their lives, they likely wouldn't view women as sex objects, even with fictional cartoons on their TV screens.
While I probably wouldn't be a fan of cartoons depicting harems of women that are ditsy, big-titted decorations, I wouldn't be opposed to them. Because I can differentiate between real life, fantasy, and personality traits to legitimately judge people based on, so why can't you? Unless you are autistic and the like, you should be fully capable of making those distinctions too. Again, it's just a matter of having the right resources and influences in your life.
This patriarchal, manly-man, bros before hos, blame-women-for-all-my-problems-I-can't-control culture stimulates sexual objectification. That's what you should really be targeting. Because you, yourself, are participating in and facilitating society's sexualization culture by tunnel-visioning on women's legs as only a sexual organ, rather than a human body part. THAT is objectification.