Many men and women take pride in dressing themselves with utmost sensitivity to modern fashion cultures, whether their style is hipster-esque, hip-hop, business chique, or casual and classy. Dressing yourself for success every morning can boost confidence and even help define how you want to be portrayed and project where you want to go in life.
For young teenagers, the freedom to express his or her own style is a kind of right of passage. Many times teens’ fashion sense will sprout from pop-culture and teen idols they listen to on the radio or watch on tv. Sometimes the teen idols they are inspired by can sometimes be alarming, as it has been shown that the media children have access to is increasingly sexual. The internet, music, magazines, advertisements, and the like seem to become more and more bold in the way they portray the normalization of sexuality. While this much of this media was first exclusively aimed at adults, it is increasingly common for the market to incorporate hyper-sexualization at preteens and kids even younger.
As this hyper-sexualization continues to make its way into the homes of families, alarming images of young children seem to be popping up throughout the media.
The model in this magazine spread is only age 13. She is adorned with heavy eye-makeup and lipstick, as well as high-fashion clothing and high-heels. The young model is portrayed not unsimilarly to a model who would be 20 years older. Is this image meant to be unsettling, or is it meant to portray some weird alternate universe norm?
If the age of a preteen wasn’t young enough to begin sexualization children, don’t worry, here’s your fix of cake-faced toddlers.
Toddlers and Tiaras is a hugely popular tv program that features parents (mostly middle-aged mothers) who live vicariously through their children’s (infants and toddlers) accomplishments in the world of beauty pageants. It is one thing to teach your young son or daughter how to present themselves on a stage, through grace, elegance, and confidence. It is another thing entirely to play dress-up with you son or daughter in a many that would reflect what many would consider bad parenting. The image of the young girl on the cover of People magazine depicts a standard image of a toddler aged pageantry get-up. Thick makeup, spray tan, hair-extensions, proportionately short dress, and while not specifically shown in this image, the toddlers are many times told to wear fake teeth because their own full smile has not grown in yet.
Many times the children are presented in a comic-relief, “kids say the darnedest things,” type of way. But many times, the children project alarming values that their parents have instilled upon them. These children seem to have a narrow grasp on what their own identities mean in terms of personal development and inner growth. They are instead told what they need to wear in order to “impress the judges.” Growing up in this type of environment is not exactly an ideal place for young girls to develop their mental and emotional health. When a parent encourages or even forces their child to step into the shoes of a hyper-sexualized, full grown woman, it is hard for them to be what they are, a child.