We live in a world where young girls see thousands of images that normalize the sexualization of their bodies. Despite parents’ efforts to monitor the content their children see, the message that sexy is better still gets through, resulting in young girls growing up too fast and having the innocence of childhood taken away.

These beauty standards are the majority that girls as young as 12 years old will go to extreme lengths to obey, so that they may feel as if they fit into society’s standards.

Instagram is a main perpetrator of messages that communicate to young girls that they need to be feminine, wear makeup, and act and appear more mature than their age. Many women can say that they have experienced the pressures and expectations that these images place on young girls’ backs. One example is that most teenage women are expected to act and dress “sexy” despite not even being the age of 18. In an article from Very Well Mind, author Sarah Sheppard discusses how the repercussions of early sexualization are both physical and emotional. “Girls, in general, experience more mental health issues than boys and sexualization often factors into the way girls identify themselves and measure their self-worth. When girls experience sexualization or objectification first-hand, it can stir up a wide range of emotions. Depending on the severity of the instance, it can lead to anxiety, depression, or even PTSD.”

In a 2012 article from the Huffington Post, author Dr. Jim Taylor also describes the impacts of early sexualization. “A recent study found that girls as young as six years old wanted to be like dolls who were dressed in a sexy way compared to dolls who were dressed stylishly but covered up. These young girls associated being sexy with being the way they wanted to look, being popular in school, and who they wanted to play with.” This is baffling not only due to the age of the girls who fall under the pressure of objectification, but also due to the reason they seek it: popularity, appearance, and peer pressure. Is the reason for these young girl’s sudden desire to appear “sexy” due to other people’s social media influence or is it due to society’s new beauty standard that have reached the eyes of children who are barely beyond playing with dolls?

Every Halloween the objectification of women rears its ugly head. You can see that most costumes made for young women – the majority adolescents – are extreme sexual versions of normally innocent everyday clothes. An example is the sexualized version of “schoolgirl” costumes that consist of extremely tiny skirts that are basically belts and button up shirts that can barely be closed due to the tightness. Not to mention the fact that Halloween has been normalized as a day where adolescents are “allowed” to dress as “sluts”.

An example of the negative impacts caused from society’s sexualization of young girls is the rise of eating disorders, insecurities and body dysmorphia that are caused by numerous beauty expectations such thin waists, clear skin, and big butts that can be seen on numerous social media platforms everywhere: Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook. These beauty standards are the majority that girls as young as 12 years old will go to extreme lengths to obey, so that they feel they fit into society’s standard.

Teenagers bear the brunt of most of society’s expectations and hypocrisy, because apparently you must be both attractive and sexy to be considered worthy of attention on many platforms such as Tik-Tok, Instagram, etc. Author Stephanie V. Ng, MD reveals in her article that ”emerging empirical research also corroborates the notion that while sexualization of females is rewarded online (usually by males), females are also punished for these same displays and are quick to be labeled by other female peers as “sluts” or “skanks”(2). This perpetuates sexual double standards that reinforce gender stereotypes. A review of research on media and sexualization notes that the effects of social media on females is still in its infancy, but it is hypothesized that because social media features peers (rather than celebrities), exposure may generate even more social comparison and body shame than traditional media (3).” This research empathizes well how women, even once they’ve met society’s “expectations” will more than likely be treated like a “whore” afterwards. This hypocrisy is further highlighted by the fact that the majority who are called such insults – teenage girls- are often pressured into it by the expectations of society as well as their peers. This sexualization, now horrifyingly considered a norm, is a prime example of how society’s sexualization has ruined the mental and physical health as well as the image of many young women not even the age of 18.

Is the normalcy regarding the sexualization of minors merely a flaw that has gone too far? Or has it simply been accepted as a part of society.

One must wonder.

photo credit goes to: Cuties: Netflix Sorry for Poster Slammed for Sexualizing Little Girls – Variety