20 Aug 2014
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Are Young Girls Dressing Too Provocatively?

Patch takes a look at the media's role in sexualizing girls at an early age, and wonders where to pin the blame.

Are Young Girls Dressing Too Provocatively?

explored the idea that young girls may be dressing too provocatively for their age. It’s not a new subject; since Barbie came on the scene in 1959, parents have been concerned that the doll established an unrealistic idea of body image for young girls. Fast-forward a couple of decades and you have controversies surrounding Madonna, then Brittney Spears and now Katy Perry. Children are bombarded with images of women dressing and acting sexy in everything from Victoria’s Secret ads to Sesame Street.

The Huffington Post last month tackled the subject of how to raise girls with a positive image of women’s bodies and sexuality when the young celebrities marketed to them "evolve" from portraying themselves as sweet 16s to seductresses. In her book " Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture," Peggy Orenstein discusses the idea that urging girls to be pretty in pink may indoctrinate them into the idea that they have to be attractive to be happy.

Diane Taylor posed it this way in Mercer Island Patch:

“When you enter an Abercrombie & Fitch store you are bombarded with bigger-than-life photos of bare-chested young men and scantily clad young women, often together and touching in the same poster. It seems that the low-cut, the tight and the short have hit extremes and are the 'IT' of teen fashion. A perfect petri dish in which to observe this trend is at   where many skirts barely cover the derriere, and strapless is the norm. But that is high school.

"It is not unusual for such trends to trickle down to the middle school-aged kids, who are starting to shop at trendier stores and view more cable television where the shocking is what sells, whether it's fashion, language or 'reality' conduct. There is a dress code at the public middle school on Mercer Island, but enforcement in this area might require one more FTE (full-time employee). The girls, who are ahead of the boys in this arena, drive this train. Boys are still wearing (and will continue for quite some time) T-shirts, basketball shorts, no-see-um socks and on, high-fashion days, jeans.

"Some concerned parents think the sexually suggestive has trickled down dangerously far, even to elementary-aged kids. Are kids at this age more aware of boy-girl relationships than ever before? Are they wearing suggestive outfits? Do you think it's due to media coverage like MTV? Reality shows? Even Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel seems to expose younger kids to sexuality.”

What do you think? Are you girls dressing too proactively for their age? Are images in the media imposing the idea of sexuality on them at too early an age? Are parents to blame for letting their daughters emulate their celebrity idols by wearing clothing that is not age-appropriate? And what about boys? Are they being conditioned by the media to view women as just sexual objects?

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