Halloween is right around the corner. It’s evident, particularly on a college campus covered in fliers about Halloween party options. But this fall marks the launch of an even scarier trend: naughty Halloween costumes for toddlers.
According to MSN, Wal-Mart pulled its “naughty leopard costume” from store shelves following a heavy backlash. The costume was criticized for its scandalous nature.
But this isn’t an isolated incident. In fact, it shows a greater problem in society: the sexualization of young girls.
Another example of the overt objectification of society’s youth is the case of model Thylane Loubry Blondeau. She received criticism after appearing nude on the cover of Vogue magazine, covered only by a strands of bead necklaces. In today’s entertainment world, this set-up is a fairly normal occurrence. But the difference? Thylane is 10-years-old.
Equally shocking is French lingerie company Jours Après Lune’s line for girls ages 4 to 12, which has advertised its brand with photos of grade-school girls styled like porn stars.
The problems don’t stop with magazines. Even cartoons created for children such as anime feature scantily clad female characters.
Furthermore, according to Nielsen Media Research, the average child or teen watches three hours of television per day. During those three hours, 78 percent of the television material focuses on women’s bodies. Another large majority consistently pokes fun at women.
Additionally, according to the American Psychological Association’s Task Force Report on the Sexualization of Girls, “In music videos, women more frequently than men are presented in provocative and revealing clothing, are objectified, and typically serve as decorative objects that dance and pose and do not play any instruments.”
Though these magazines claim to be targeted at their age group, they are actually a major driving force in early sexualization. Seventeen Magazine, for example, plasters headlines all over its covers that are provocative in nature.
With headlines like “how to look super pretty” and “how to make him want you” spotlighted in nearly every issue, on pages accompanied by images of Photoshopped models, the media forces girls to prioritize superficial concepts in life.
Fortunately, there is hope. A 2012 Curia Market Research poll of 600 girls between the ages of 15 and 21 showed 51 percent think there is too much sex and violence on television. Evidently, even the market audience at which companies are targeting this sexualized image is not a fan of the idea.
“If I could talk to those companies, I would tell them that makeup, hair, and clothes, do not make you look beautiful. They don’t make you perfect,” 13-year-old Faith said to the APA. “Boys are going to look at you like, ‘You’re an easy sex target.’”
Faith has a point. It is time to draw the line. If we want young women to grow up with some sense of respect for themselves, it is imperative that society’s view of women changes immediately.
Unfortunately, sex sells. But sex cannot sell if the buyer does not want it. Companies will immediately snatch up whatever new attention grabber comes along, because the one thing that sells more than sex is popularity. Women have made great strides to reach the point they have now and it’s about time the media caught up with the trend.
Abby Mark is a freshman majoring in theater.
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