A Generation of Prosti-tots
Last year, I worked at an after-school day care center for kids in preschool-6th grade. Basically, after a long day at school, I hauled my ass to work where for 3 hours I was surrounded by a bunch of kids who were primarily in their single digits and not only acted as though they hadn't just been at school for 8 hours but had also shot up some 5 hour energy. Seriously, these kids were nuts.
A family friend recently sent me this article about "prosti-tots," a catchy yet disturbing phrase, that got me thinking about my experience at work. Basically, if you think our generation is messed up, the next one has it coming.
For some reason the little tykes at work seemed to trust me. More likely they just like talking to me because teenagers are seriously God-like to the elementary school set. Anyway, I had girls who were 6 years old coming up to me and asking me if I thought they were fat (they wanted to be skinny "like Hannah Montana") and asking me for relationship advice. Now, I know that little girls wanting "boyfriends" is not something unusual and that many a 3rd grader has run around trying to kiss boys - although that may not be THE most normal thing it's not exactly unprecedented. However, there was something kind of off about the way these girls were talking about boys. These girls were talking about having relationships and making out...something that wasn't really on my radar 6-8 years after I was born.
Now, what is different about this next generation, that is "growing up so fast?" Let's look to pop culture. Okay, so kids have a lot more going on in the way of entertainment than my over-watched 5 or 6 Disney movies and Sesame Street. And while many a member of my generation might despair at the eradication of beloved Disney movies, it's probably not the worst thing in the world to get rid of some of those stupid-ass gender stereotypes that prevail in almost all of them. But what are we exchanging that for?
Well, for one you can be a fashionista, like Suri Cruise. My mom wouldn't let me put anything on my face until I was fourteen, and even then it was neutral colors all the way. But why play into that so outdated "I'm a kid look" when you can look like a prosti-tot? Suri seems to pose this thought provoking question as she wears dark red lipstick and shops for more shades at Sephora. [Also - seriously Suri Cruise Fashion Blog? Seriously? That somebody actually catalogues this tot's fashion choices is a problem all on it's own]
"Make up is merely a form of expression," you counter. "And what's the harm, anyway? It's just makeup it's not a big deal. They just want to be like their Moms and older sisters, that's not new."
Okay. Lipstick, whatever. Wearing makeup is probably not the reason our little sisters are growing up so fast. Maybe it's the way they dress?
There's the always fabulous example of Noah Cyrus. Maybe little girls saw Noah, who is their age, dress up for Halloween and thought: "That's cool, I'll dress like that."
Oh, Noah Cyrus, Ye of fantastic examples for the nation's youth.
There's the time you sang Akon's "Smack That", hopefully unaware of the sexual meaning behind the lyrics (Smack that / give me some more / smack that / til you get sore) and the other time that you danced to Ke$ha's TiK ToK...hopefully still unaware of the lyrics since you should be brushing your teeth with cinnamon flavored Colgate or Little Bear toothpaste not a bottle of jack.
But Noah Cyrus isn't the only sexualized elementary school student around. Oh, no, Julia Lira over in Brazil took a stab at it, too, dressing up in a bra-let (nothing to hold up = not really a bra) and a sarong to gyrate it on out.
So, are our little sisters "growing up too quickly." I'm going to say no, they're not growing up too quickly. Because to me, growing up means becoming an adult - it means learning how to make mature decisions and taking care of yourself. This generation is certainly not doing that. What they're doing is becoming sexualilzed at a freakishly young age, which is something completely separate.
Why is this happening? I honestly don't know for sure. I could say that it's all of the fabulous example being set above, but I tend to think that Suri, Noah and Julia are the effect not the cause. Our culture, as a country and increasingly as a global community, is becoming overtly sexual. It's in our ads, our music, our movies, our T.V. and now in our lives.
I'm not saying we should return to an era of women covering up and interacting only with members of the opposite sex to whom they are related, engaged or married. But at the same time why are we so focused on ONLY external appearances, ONLY sex and NOTHING on the inside?
I've always thought that while my generation has struggled with these issues, it was a struggle. We, for the most part, realize that there is / should be something more to us than our outward appearance and sexuality. What I'm worried about is this next generation of girls completely accepting the idea that they are sexual objects, and nothing more.
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