Though the film Sexy Baby is meant to demonstrate the current trend in how pre-teens and adolescents dress, talk and act in the United States, unfortunately the observations made cannot be excluded to just this country. As an older sister of a pre-teen who is growing up in Brazil, I can adamantly say that the behaviours of Winifred and her friends in the movie can also be found in young girls in developed places other than the U.S.
When I spend my summers in São Paulo, Brazil with my younger sister, I am often in awe by how she seems to be growing up too fast. I’d like to take a deeper look into this expression we hear parents say all the time; there is something crucial to learn about our society when we acknowledge the driving factors that make us think a child is “growing up too fast”.
Kids today seem to be speeding past through their childhood as they do things that were done much later by the generation before them. For example, pre-teen girls (such as my little sister) are getting Facebook, Instagram, and even Snapchat accounts (a phone application known for sexting) while young adults my age weren’t this active in the world of social media until high school.
The easy access to the online world and the peer-pressure children today have to be active on social media seems to be distracting them from the more simplistic and carefree childhood we and our parents had. I would hate to think of myself as someone reminiscing on the past and I often cringe when older adults tell me, “Well, back in my day, things were this way…” I am thrilled to live in such an age where we are seeing technology solving some of the world’s most pressing issues. As an economics student, I believe that progression, efficiency, and globalization should not be impeded. Yet, there are adverse consequences on especially young women who are active in this internet-savy era we live in. The negative effects that arise when impactful images and videos are shared so easily in this globalized world must be brought to light.
What concerns me the most is that young children don’t have the level of maturity nor self-confidence to handle the pictures of photo-shopped, semi-nude women posing in promiscuous ways. These photos and videos are found online, on billboards, commercials, television etc. Needless to say, in the consumerist society we live in, pre-teens and adolescents are bombarded with these images and greatly impacted by them.
Children are highly observational and naïve, they emulate behaviors before making a thorough and mature thought process that adults are capable of doing. That is why it is imperative that we take caution in what images children are seeing. More importantly, since we obviously cannot eliminate all of the degrading influences, we can and should instead educate children to become aware of what is appropriate or not (of course this will vary across families).
Even if one argues that this early participation in social media is a result of early maturation, I still find that the underlying issue is that these young girls are extending their adolescence years at the cost of curtailing their innocent and carefree childhood. It is heartbreaking when I see young girls who obsess over their body image because that means they are valuing their physical attributes more than inner their characteristics such as passion and intelligence.
As seen in the Sexy Baby documentary, Winfred and her other pre-teen friend try on numerous outfits in search for the perfect “slutty” skirt that would make their “butts look big”. It already saddens me that young adult women care greatly about their appearances, even to the extent of pursuing labiaplasty surgery in intimate places.
I blame consumerism and the media along with all the associated tactics used to influence humans in the developed world to buy more things, and to look and act in a certain way. Essentially, we are seeing a distortion in the development of young girls because of the phenomena of consumerism, pornography, and obsession with body images. The character Winifred in the film Sexy Baby epitomizes this sort of distortion.