Fake tan, high heels, sequins and glitter.
Pigtails, muddy sneakers, freckles and bruises.
Two different worlds. Surely two different ages, right?
The sexualisation of children, especially young girls, is becoming increasingly prevalent as Barbie becomes a role model rather than a simple toy. Growing up it was completely normal to flounce around in Mum’s heels and emerge from the bathroom looking like a clown in her red lipstick. But as the saturation and tolerance of sex in the media industry becomes more prominent, it is being filtered down to the most vulnerable of them all- children.
For around $32 you can buy your toddler a pair of 3.5 inch platforms, you can head down to Primark and grab a shirt for your daughter with the words ‘Future WAG’ plastered across the chest, or what better way to dress a newborn than in a ‘corset onesie’ fit with animal patterns and raunchy bows. Instead of playing a game of grown ups children are starting to become them, accepting tweens as teens and living way beyond their years.
The popular American television show ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ is doing just that where 3 year olds are strutting around in skimpy dresses in a bid to be the prettiest pre-teen around. While we should never discourage a child from expressing themselves in whatever way they feel comfortable, a line needs to be drawn between children and adults. Girls as young as three getting their eyebrows waxed and four year olds sporting fake breasts is not exactly what you would call ‘child’s play’. Gone are the cubby houses and make believe of our time as we give way to the overtly sexual and increasingly disturbing world of child pageants.
The fake tan, hair extensions, skimpy outfit and raunchy moves are well beyond the parameters of what we see as appropriate for any toddler. Exhibit A:
And then you add in the unhealthy attitude being breed between these young girls. Exhibit B:
And then throw in the obsessive parents who are instilling these unhealthy ideals upon their children. Exhibit C:
The argument lies in that the little girls really want to be doing this, that they love it and enjoy playing a game of dress ups. But in a world where 80% of American girls have been on a diet by the time they are 10, and the number one wish for girls aged 11-17 is to be thinner, is this really a healthy hobby?
‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ sheds light on the world that is child beauty pageants and has received great backlash over the past few years. It is raw and unbiased- no commentary, no omniscient narrator, simply the girls in their element. At the end of the day, this television show gives a dramatic, but unarguably honest depiction of how children are becoming more and more sexualized. This has filtered beyond mainstream media and into schools, shops and playgrounds. So the question has to be asked- Why can’t kids just be kids anymore?