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Media’s Sexualization of Children

One very disturbing trend in fashion, advertising, and particularly recently in the music industry is the sexualization of children, especially girls. They are constantly portrayed as sexual caricatures of adults. In some cases, young children are portrayed scanty-clad. In yet others, they are wearing such outfits and mimicking sexual poses. In other cases, a teenager or young adult is dressed in a way to make her appear younger. She may be wearing a cheerleader uniform, a school-girl uniform, she may be posing clutching a stuffed animal, or with dolls, etc. and she is often posed in a sexual fashion.

Britney Spears is the most notable example of this. The then seventeen-year-old donned a little school girl uniform complete with pigtails for her “Baby One More Time” video. However, that uniform blouse was tied up to reveal her mid-drift and her skirt was cut short. There are a wide variety of pictures of Britney Spears available, particularly on the web. It’s quite disturbing to flip through these pictures and see one of Miss Spears standing next to a school bus smiling sweetly, then one of her in a tiny cheerleader outfit lying provocatively in the bed of a truck, and then one of her tearing her clothes off. Her early photographs painted her as “the girl next door” type. Even the cover to her first album was a picture of her completely clothed and smiling sweetly. Her photographs and videos then captured her as a school girl “sex kitten”, making her appear younger, yet sexualizing her image with tiny tops and skirts.

Our popular culture and our modern society seem to be speeding up the sexualization of young girls. We have a problem in our culture and her name is Britney Spears. When I say “Britney Spears” I mean, of course, all her clones as well, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson, etc. All of these girls are either under or hover very close to the age of consent… These girls are marketed specifically to preteen girls and they are not singing about sugar and spice; they are singing about sex. “Give it to me / I’m so addicted to the loving that you’re feeding me / Ohhh / Can’t do without it, this feeling’s got me weak in the knees/ Oh, baby / Body’s in withdrawal every time you take it away/ Ohhh/.” (Kleinheider)

Feminists, Stereotypes and Stereotyping in the Media

Feminists and Media Stereotypes

The media portrays feminists in unflattering ways. Largely because of the media portrayal, the word ‘feminist’ usually evokes images of crass, butch, men-hating, very masculine women. Many women believe in the feminist doctrine, but they would never consider themselves as a feminist because they cannot relate to the images of crass, butch, men-hating, masculine women. In fact, it has only been within the past year that I’ve been able to accept the fact that I am a feminist and that my preconceived images of feminists are merely media stereotypes.

I’m now able to admit I care more about my own rights than whether or not someone will assume I fit the media stereotype of a feminsit. Feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. One doesn’t have to hate men, refuse to wear dresses, or be homosexual to be a feminist. Feminism isn’t about male bashing, but rather about equality. Now I can (and do) admit freely that I’m a feminist. People may think that means I’m lesbian. They may think that means I hate men. They may think I have some sort of secret agenda. They can be as misinformed or stereotypical as they chose, I just want equal rights.

Yet now I have to wonder why those stereotypes exist and where they stemmed from. Were early feminists “butch” man haters? No. Early accounts from women and men of the time prove otherwise.

* … the 1848 Seneca Falls convention for a female Bill of Rights provoked editorials about “unsexed women”…which insinuated that they had become activists because “they were too repulsive to find a husband….These women are entirely devoid of personal attractions.”…When a supporter, Senato…

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… Life Time Entertainment Services. 2000

Changing Face of Beauty: Models Life Time Entertainment Services. 2000

Changing Face of Beauty: Views. “Sela Ward” Life Time Entertainment Services. 2000

Changing Face of Beauty: Views. “Maricia Gillespie” Life Time Entertainment Services. 2000

Douglas, Susan J. Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media. New York: Random House Publishing, 1994, 278.


Wolff, Naomi. The Beauty Myth. New York: Doubleday Publishing, 1991

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