Now that I have a daughter, I pay far more attention to the way little girls are growing up in today’s society. Mother.wife.me wrote a brilliant piece for my magazine’s blog on the very same subject. The more I think about it, the more it bothers me and thought I’d share my view here.
At the end of one of the many school concerts I went to at my son’s primary school, a group of kids jumped on stage to celebrate. So far so fun and innocent. Then quite spontaneously, a few of the 7-year-old girls started gyrating a la Britney Spears and Rihanna to some pop song of which I can’t remember the title. It was the first time I’d seen children dancing with their arms suggestively moving up and down their little bodies; and it made for very uncomfortable watching. These girls were simply copying what they have seen many times before on TV through programmes like X Factor and music videos. All that hip thrusting, in their eyes, is what passes for dancing.
I work in fashion magazine publishing, so am used to seeing how women are projected on the page. But in the places I have worked, there were standards: all models had to be at least 16 years old, no fur and no smoking. I am not against the idea of child models. After all, children fashion can only be modelled by children. The problem is when they are styled like grown women in the style of a sexy Dolce & Gabbana campaign that concerns me.
Sexy appears to have become the norm. The 9pm watershed is a joke. Hollyoaks at 6.30pm is far too grown-up; its racy scripts get talked up in the press and prop up audience numbers. In family variety shows such as X Factor, female contestants sometimes wear so few items of clothing that I wonder why they even bother. Gyrating hip-thrusting choreography is a staple.
So do I agree with France’s Senator Chantal Jouanno (from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party), who called for a ban on “Mini-Miss” beauty pageants, children’s lingerie and child-sized adult clothing, when she said, “It’s not about social control but reminding people there are barriers to respect to protect the childhood period.” Yes, I do.
Our children’s childhood need to be protected. My children’s media diet is closely monitored, but they still pick things up. Mostly from their friends. The playground is where a lot of their socialising take place.
Childhood only happens for a short spell and children gain so much out of it. Their innocence will come to an end one day, but it should come naturally when they are emotionally ready for it. Our children is overexposed to sexualised images and it is damaging their childhoods.