In ECMP 355 last week, we learned about digital citizenship. This includes how you portray yourself online and proper nettiquette. Our prof recommended watching a video called “Sext Up Kids”, so I watched it last night.
I was shocked to find out that girls are becoming sexualized at a much younger age. Kids as young as three are being influenced to be sexualized because they are brought up with Disney stories and Barbies/Bratz. They grow up believing that beauty is the number one thing to achieve. I wrote an essay in ECS 110 a couple of years ago about how Barbies affect children and I had mixed feelings about the topic and I still do to this day. When these children play with Barbies, they may think that looking like Barbie will ensure happiness in their lives and increase their ability to make friends. In this way, Barbie is producing appropriately gendered females because they are promoting ideals of unrealistic beauty. The Bratz dolls took a step further because their clothes were getting shorter and skimpier, their lips were larger and their frames were smaller. These dolls are definitely showing a more sexualized view of toys compared to Barbie. When I was growing up, I played with Barbies and Bratz. I feel like these dolls did give me an unrealistic ideal of beauty, but I was never influenced to be like these toys and I feel like I was never sexualized as a kid. This may differ from child to child and the rise of technology might be a factor because children have more access to content (ex: Barbie.com). I feel like children are more influenced by the media.
When you watch TV, surf the net, read a magazine, etc., you will most definitely see a sexualized image of a celebrity. These are the images I grew up with and I definitely wanted to be like these celebrities because I idolized them. One of the celebrities that I loved was Britney Spears. When you are a kid, you don’t really understand that these celebrities are dressed inappropriately or acting inappropriately. For example, I never thought that “Baby One More Time” was sexual at all when I was younger. As I got older, girls started looking more like the celebrities I loved. This is probably because that’s what we were socialized to believe as beautiful and we also saw this as a way to get attention from friends and boys. Even at my age now, girls are desperate for male attention and will go to great lengths to impress them. In the video, the young girls explain that Cosmopolitan explains ways to please men and not the other way around. Girls are led to believe that their own happiness comes second to men.
With the rise of technology, “sexting” has become a popular act. Since girls believe that they have to impress the boys, they send naked or semi-nude pictures to them, without thinking about the consequences. This may become part of their digital identity. Having an image like that following you for the rest of your life will not be great in future endeavours, so I think these issues need to be addressed earlier on in kid’s lives. In the video, several women speak to nine year olds about sexualization and how they feel about themselves. I think this is a great way to get young girls aware of what’s out there and to relate to each other.
Do you think that the youth today are becoming highly sexualized earlier on in life? Is there any other factors that influence these ideals?