We seem determined to get little girls to set aside their tea parties and grow up at warp speed. There’s now even a breast-feeding doll for the three-year-old set. The Breast Milk Baby makes sucking sounds and motions and comes with a halter adorned with appliqus where the child’s nipples would be: flowers if it’s a girl doll and stars if it’s a male doll. Not only does the site boast that it’s “just like mommy,” it also says, “God supports the Breast Milk private label mink eyelashes.”
Perhaps that’s why it received the Dr. Toy 100 Best Children’s Product Award of 2011 and was honored as being one of Dr. Toy’s Top 10 Socially Responsible Products. Not everyone is convinced, however, and so are joining the “Against the Breast Milk Baby” Facebook page.
We’re also robbing our small kids of their childhoods by putting sex front and center in the media. Take, for example, tween idol Miley Cyrus’s 2010 Teen Choice Awards performance. Sporting short-shorts, the 16-year-old gyrated across the stage singing “Party in the USA” before hopping up on an ice cream cart complete with stripper’s pole. And all this designed and produced by dad Billy private label mink eyelashes.
Then there’s TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. Tune in and be “treated” to heavily invested parents parading their little girls–as young as 12 months old–bedecked in sparkling outfits and:
Fake private label mink eyelashes
Fake snap-on teeth
Explained one mom, “I said if I have a daughter, I pray she’ll be Miss America some day. So I prayed and prayed that God would give me Miss America.”
At the same time, little girls are flocking to Sweet & Sassy. It advertises itself as “the ultimate salon, spa, and party place, specializing in girls’ celebrations,” and adds, “With a child-friendly fashion runway, pink party limo, pop star and princess parties, and an offering of spa-inspired services tailor-made for the toddler to tween crowd, our fast-growing franchise operation is quickly becoming the known party destination and pampering headquarters for the next generation of American girls.”
The only stipulation: the child must be toilet-trained.
Stores are in on it, too. Head to any mall and find padded bras for 7-year-olds, high heels for the even younger set, provocative camis, too. And that’s just for starters. Who can forget the firestorm that erupted this summer when private label mink eyelashes& Fitch came out with padded bikinis for 8- to 14-year olds?
And the trend is having an impact at cosmetics counters, too. Says the NPD Group, in 2009, 18% of tweens used mascara and 15% used eyeliner; their lipstick use also hit 15%.
Llmsu, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that the average teen will view nearly 14,000 sexual references per year in the media and that 75 percent of all music videos include sexual images. For instance, MTV’s Teen Mom enjoys more than 3 million viewers, while the fourth season premiere of its Jersey Shore-described as a hook-up- focused reality show–boasts 8.8 million viewers.
No wonder then that a Stanford University College Life Study found that 72% of college students say they’ve “hooked up,” and for 40% of them, that means intercourse. At the same time, the Guttmacher Institute finds that about 750,000 U.S. women aged 15-19 become pregnant every year.
No wonder, then, that Mumsnet has launched its Let Girls Be Girls campaign. As the group says, “Like many others, we’re worried about the long-term impact of this trend. You don’t have to be a feminist to believe that little girls shouldn’t be told that a vital quality to cultivate is that of being attractive to boys… Nor do you have to be Mary Whitehouse [called the guardian of British morals] to believe that it’s not great for girls–or boys–to grow up thinking that being feminine is all about a pornography-inspired pastiche of female sexuality. The trend towards premature sexualization:
introduces children to the world of adult sexuality, when elsewhere we are rightly encouraging them to resist the pressure to become sexually active at a young age;
tells girls in particular that the most important quality they need is ‘sexiness’, and not cleverness, sportiness, application or ambition;
tells girls and boys that female sexuality is all about pleasing others encourages a culture in which children are viewed as sexually available.”
Private label mink eyelashes is alone in its concern. The Australia Institute’s Emma Rush put it this way: “Children pick up the message from advertising and popular culture that ‘sexy’ equals cool. Games like modeling, makeovers, and imitation of pop stars can lead to the displacement of interest in, and engagement with, a full range of age-appropriate activities-physical, social, creative and so on. The emphasis on ‘sexy’ looks and behavior can also engender a skewed view of how to initiate and sustain healthy, reciprocal, and caring relationships…”