Over the past four decades — from the Summer of Love to the Bratz Kids — our children have been under increasing pressure to become aggressively sexual earlier and earlier. Little girls who aren’t even in middle school start wearing makeup and getting expensive hairdos, and now parents are taking it to another level:
To celebrate her birthday, Lauren Potter decided to spring for a day at the spa. She and a friend, Ana Zdechlik, spent an afternoon getting facials, manicures and pedicures. They ended the day by having their hair spiked. Such birthday luxuries are not uncommon, except for one thing: Both girls are 11. … [T]eens and “tweens” (10-to 12-year-olds bursting to be older) can get a French Upgrade or Glitter Topcoat for their nails, a chin wax job, Blemish Blaster Facial, eyelash and eyebrow tint or paraffin foot dip. They can also get a temporary henna tattoo or step into a glass shower and get a sunless “Magic Tan” that will last a week. If mom decides to hang around, there’s a mother-daughter day special for $195 per person.
While Freud correctly notes that we all are sexual beings, overt sexuality had traditionally been postponed until mid-teens at the earliest until the 1960s and 1970s rolled around. Ever since then, overt sexuality has been pushed further and further back into childhood, until it seems that the entire period after toddlerhood has become an extended adolescence. The problem with sexualizing young children is that they inevitably start acting sexual, experimenting with sexual contact and obsessing on physical image and popularity with the opposite gender. Far more than boys, the pressure on young girls to sexualize has increased tremendously.
Now we have preteen girls spending $100 or more to get henna tatoos and paraffin foot dips instead of playing board games, getting eyelash coloring and fingernails painted instead of playing soccer or swimming, and basing their self-esteem on make-up and “shimmer body exfoliations” instead of their intellect, their personality, and their souls. After that, who can wonder why HBO then airs shows such as “Middle School Confidential”, where 13-year-olds casually talk about oral sex on first dates with their 14-year-old boyfriends? Is it any wonder that abstinence-only sexual education proves no more effective than traditional methods? Why would we be surprised when eating disorders strike girls at adolescence and even younger now?
Shame on the parents who allow their daughters, in the article as young as five years old, to be indoctrinated into such a shallow set of values. They’re selling a typical American illness: if it feels good, do it. One parent said:
[She] brought one daughter in for a faux tan earlier in the day, then had to bring her other daughter in. “Expensive day,” she said. “I think it’s a good idea,” [she] said. “Teens have so much expendable money now. What else are they going to spend it on?”
Maybe that’s part of the problem, too. Maybe our children get too much money too early. Because if that’s the justification for allowing them to turn their daughters into shallow, self-obsessed, precocious targets for exploitation, then I guess you can’t blame them for buying drugs, either.