In his book Lost Icons: Reflections on Cultural Bereavement, Rowan Williams points to the sexualization of children (and the formation of childish adults) as the key in the spread of points of view where adults and children are seen as competitors for resources, for attention etc… This is an extension of that trend.
The issue of the over-sexualizing of girls from an early age has come to the forefront with a recent news story about model Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau posing suggestively for the cover of Vogue magazine. Over a series of photos, the ten-year-old is shown sprawled on leopard-print cushions, wearing a skimpy gold dress, stiletto heels, and posing heavily made-up, with rouge and lipstick. She’s ten years old, yet she looks scarily adult in the photos.
The question is, should we be so surprised? We’ve had it coming for a while now. After all, we live in a culture where the walls of any Abercrombie and Fitch store are adorned with some dude’s naked torso and skimpily dressed girls, where JCPenney, Macy’s, and Aeropostale’s websites all feature comprehensive selections of lacy G-strings and thongs on their juniors pages. “Aerie,” American Eagle’s undergarments line aimed at teenage girls (According to a press release: “aerie by American Eagle is a new line of intimates and dormwear designed for girls 15 to 25 years of age”), features on its homepage “Drew–Our New Pushup Bra That Adds 2 Cup Sizes,” with the heading “Double Whoa.” Do fifteen-year-olds really need an extra two cup sizes?