Rachel is a 12-year-old editorial board member of New Moon Girls. Since Friday is the SPARK SUMMIT, “Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge – is a day to speak out, push back on the sexualization of girls,” we thought it a great time to hear what an actual girl has to say – especially in light of the fuss over GLEE on Thursday. This is Rachel’s New Moon post (full disclosure, New Moon was founded by Care2 blogger Nancy Gruver.)
When you walk into the girl’s section of any store and in America, you see the same thing- stereotypes, negative messages, and false images of girls. Shirts with little pink rhinestones, super-short shorts, skin-tight tank tops, Abercrombie “cute butt sweatpants” and clothes with words and phrases on them like “I know I’m cute”, “If You Knew My Mother You Would Understand”, and “My Favorite Subject is You.” The most sickening thing about all this, is these clothes are not only found in the junior’s section but are sold to children as young as 3. Three year olds can be spotted sporting shorts that say, “Little Girl; Big Attitude”, “Princess- It’s not just a name, it’s a life style”, and “I love Nerds! They do my homework!”
Authors Sharon Lamb, and Lyn Mikel Brown say that “young girls see these stereotypes and believe this is what it means to be a girl.” Check out their book, Packaging Girlhood! It’s a great read for girls who want to understand the world of marketing.
Most girls feel pressured to dress a certain way, or act a certain way, just because they think it’s “cool”. If they want to be popular, girls think they have to act inappropriately, or wear clothes, that send bad messages. Molly (12, Colorado) says, “The thing that scares me the most is that how ‘sexy’ girl’s clothing is has been rising constantly for decades now. I honestly feel that there is something to be said for pioneer dresses, or at least articles of clothing that do not show large amounts of stomach and cleavage.”
Marketer pressure: they know what works
A lot of girls are blinded by the images that marketers, stores, and commercials put in girls brains. They feel a need to dress and act a lot older than they are, just so they’ll “fit in” or “be popular” . Piano girl, 13, Vermont has noticed this too, “I once saw a T-shirt at the mall that said, “Who needs brains when you’ve got these?” I mean, how sexist is that? Also, all the shirts you see at K-mart that has things like “Texting is my Life” written on them. I just can’t see the point!”
Sharon and Lyn think that girls buy these clothes because “Marketers do a lot of research to know how to get our attention and make us worry about all the ways we aren’t quite good enough. They hope to make girls feel anxious about not being cool, sexy or popular enough, because an anxious girl is more likely to buy anything that promises results. Their promises are hollow, of course, because no product can change your life, or make people like you. Girls also feel very pressured to wear the “right” type of clothing. Bailey(12, Wisconsin) says, “I don’t like it when you wear clothing that doesn’t fit in or isn’t in style(and you get made fun of).” Stores like Abercrombie & Fitch or Aeropostale channel their products to girls that are thin and slender. There are girls of every shape and size in the world, and many of them can’t fit into clothing that is sold by Abercrombie or Aeropostale. And, as Sophia (age 10 from Wisconsin) points out, ” … Girls these days are walking advertisements. We have the names of companies written all over our clothes!”
Many girls, teenagers especially, are pressured to wear clothes that are revealing. Many girls have noticed this too! Here’s what they say-
“Most things in girl’s clothing today are very revealing. Young girls’ shorts today are very, well, short. Also, shirts and tops for girls are low cut, and I just don’t find it too attractive…” – Guinevere, 13, Arizona
“What scares me most is that a lot of it is see-through and revealing. How scary is that, that girls feel pretty by showing off too much?” – Jen, 11, New Jersey
“What scares me most about modern girls’ clothing is how skimpily some girls dress. I understand that women dressing how they want is a wonderful liberation, but some girls don’t understand that it’s inappropriate to dress that way in certain situations.” -Alexa, 15, New York
What can YOU do about all this? You can- refuse to buy clothes that undermine girls, and try to get clothes that make you feel comfortable and beautiful. If we call do that, we can stop “(Inappropriate clothes) from taking over and choking out good normal clothes that are comfy and practical!” (As, Shashai, 11, from Hawaii would say)
So, girls, rise up! Together, we can all create a positive image for girls and women everywhere! Feel good about standing up and saying, with confidence, “I’m NOT buying THAT!”
Rachel is 12 and lives in Wisconsin. What she says about herself: Here are some things you might want to know about me- I am on the GEB(Girl’s Editorial Board of New Moon) I’m a vegetarian I’m Unitarian, I tend to use WAY too many exclamation points I LOVE Harry Potter, and have read all the books 17 times! That’s about it!
Rachel, 12, a New Mood Editorial Board Member in Wisconsin