Tuesday, January 2, 2007

PART I Young Girls and Sexually Provocative Clothing: Not Just Harmless Self Expression

In our society, the fashion trend of preteens and teens seems to be becoming increasingly sexually provocative. Is this just a harmless way for girls to express themselves and their sexuality? I say no. The clothing marketed to pre-teen and teenage girls sends negative messages about body image and self image, promotes negative stereotypes, and objectifies women; the created image of young girls as sexual beings is dangerous. To further understand this, let us examine some of the popular clothing styles today, the underwear being sold to teens and preteens, slogans on clothing, clothing size and style in relation to body image, and advertising used to target these young girls. We will also explore the possible motivations and dangers for young girls to dress in this manner and parents’ role in all of this.

Today there are several popular styles for young girls that are sexually provocative. We see low-rise jeans with thong underwear sticking out the back, very short skirts and shorts, midriff bearing tops, off the shoulder tops, incredibly low cut tops, tops that look strikingly like lingerie, and skimpy swim wear. The article, “Strip Till You Drop,” by Alison Pollet and Page Hurwitz, describes clothing marketed to young girls as being “. . . a creepy synthesis of cute and tawdry” (Pollet, Hurwitz 20). Pollet and Hurwitz also bring up the new “revamped” Playboy logo, the Playboy Bunny. The Playboy Bunny has been remade into something cute, cuddly, and childish. We find the Bunny on shirts, underwear, hats, socks, jewelry, and on many other products targeting young girls. (Pollet, Hurwitz 21). The Playboy Bunny is a prime example on how cute and sexual is meshed together. Regardless of how cute the Playboy Bunny now appears, it still represents “Playboy” and the images of women as sexual beings. There really is nothing innocent and childlike about “Playboy Magazine.” So why is their logo on products marketed to young girls? This is only one example of the many combinations of cute and sexual.

Possibly the most alarming and sexually provocative article of clothing sold to teens and preteen is underwear. Walking through the local mall, I decided to see what was being sold for young girls. For teens it seemed that “anything goes” from thongs and g-strings, to super low-rise, string bikinis, and “boy cut.” They come in every color and type of flimsy fabric. Some also have words written on them such as “vixen,” “hottie,” and “trollop.” For bras, stores offered a little of everything as well: lacy pushup bras, sheer bras, bras with cartoon characters plastered on them, and a lot of lingerie looking undergarments. I did not see any thongs or g-strings in the pre-teen or “Girls” section of stores, but there were plenty of low rise, string bikini, and lingerie type underwear. There were padded bras in the girl’s section of department stores. At Kohl’s, a popular department store, I found what appeared to be a pink lacy pushup bra in the girls department.

The bras being sold at Kohl’s in the girls section were not just “training bras” but mini versions of the bras being sold to teens and adults. This is a great example of the term “age compression.” According to CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, “Age compression is a marketing strategy in which adult products and attitude are pushed on younger kids.” (Sex Sells… CBC). These bras are being sold to girls who have no physical reason for needing one. There were sizes as small as 30AA being sold, and they were padded. This seems to send the message that having large breasts is an important part of being an attractive woman. We see age compression especially with underwear and undergarments marketed to preteens. Lingerie, lacy underwear, and lacy push-up bras are typically what one would consider adult apparel.

Although I did not see any actual thongs being sold specifically to preteens, it doesn’t mean it does not happen. Thongs and g-strings made for teens are also made in size XS (extra small), the perfect size for a preteen girl. According to Dave Ford, author of the article "Abercrombie's Lolita Line of Thongs Goes Beyond Bad Taste,” Abercrombie and Fitch actually created a line of thongs specifically for 10-14 year old girls in 2002 (Ford). Abercrombie and Fitch “. . . adorned the baby thongs with images of cherries and such messages as ‘Wink Wink’ and ‘Eye Candy’" (Ford). These little girl thongs stuck perfectly out of the back of their little girl low rise jeans. Ford argues that this turns 10-14 year old girls into sex objects. The thong is commonly viewed as a very sexy undergarment, traditionally worn by strippers before making its way into the mainstream. It is disturbing that some little girls are wearing underwear, commonly associated with being sexual, before they even begin to menstruate.

To be continued. . . Part II- Slogans


Anonymous said...

I read your blog about preteen girl’s fashions and how our society’s younger girls are being sexualized by clothing and fashion. I was not surprised. Honestly, as a studying undergrad sociology major, I wonder the impact this sexualizing of our young girls is directly or indirectly impacting and influencing toward our society’s men? I wonder if this deviant sexual behavior motivates men to act out sexually and find girls alluring and attractive, therefore, creating pedophiles, and perhaps worse, child molesters? Clearly, we allow our young girls to display affection and attention towards men by teasing them with this dress and attire, showing it off with clothes that invite sexual promiscuity and sexual activity, why not go on and act out by entering a sexual relationship, be it inappropriate or otherwise unhealthy? Aren’t there enough pregnant twelve and thirteen year olds already? And doesn’t the lack of a father and lax dress styles promote this behavior which ultimately invites our young girls into sexual active lifestyles? Is it okay for deviant sexual behavior and perverseness to continue without costs and consequences? I think not. Men are naturally and biologically attracted to females, no matter the age, and no matter the male’s age either. And young girls wearing sexually revealing attire only promotes and attracts perverseness and invites sexual contact, be it invited or forced upon them. Women are their own worst enemy when socializing men. I’ve seen young attractive mothers dress their preteen and teen girls, like themselves, wearing skimpy outfits, so as to attract attention, namely males, (be they young or old), only to later see the teen girl pregnant, often with the girls boyfriend, or worse, with the very mother’s boyfriend. Women often impact their own daughters for the sake of sexual favors by parading them around on display for all to see. Unfortunately, the girl pays the heavy price of mother Dom early, and often it is the child that pays the heaviest price by being neglected of a father and a sound environment to grow up in. Talk about incest.

For centuries, women have purposefully been clothed and dressed modestly so as not to bring attention to their physical selves, perhaps due to the fact that men have always recognized that males are naturally attracted to females and promoting females with provocative attire all but invite men to act out sexually. This study I mentioned earlier would be indeed fascinating, if not shocking. Your comments?

Kate said...

While I agree with you that teen and preteen girls promiscuous attire influences our societies men,I think that it is very important that the blame for any kind of sexual abuse lays with the man that cannot control his impulses, no matter what type of clothing the young girl may be wearing.

Ultimately parents should be protecting their young girls and explaining to them the implication of wearing inappropriately sexual clothing.