A girl, barely in her teens, gyrates suggestively for the camera. Her tight clothes barely cover her still developing body. An explicit soundtrack plays. And it traces what she imagines to be the shortest, sexiest, path to genuine adulation. You probably know some of these girls.
Chances are parents of these adolescents are unaware of their spam account avatars because of how easily these platforms enable anonymity. My column then isn’t an indictment of either the child or their parents but a conversation that I, as a mother, am hoping to start.
I recently posted about this on social media and it seemed to open a pandora’s box of concerns. There’s no escaping the sexualisation of children—put on a talent show and you’ll see an 11-year-old thrusting her tiny pelvis and gyrating to crass music. You may marvel at her talent, but chances are you will wince, and not just at the heavily made-up faces.
Collectively, the media seems to be telling our girls they need to be sexually desirable. Their role models are doing it on screen and on Instagram. Celebs like the Kardashians spring to mind because they kind of started this fire and are demonstrating to kids that a girl’s value comes strictly from her body and her sexual appeal, excluding anything else.