According to a recent NY Times article, “girls are more likely today than in the past to start developing breasts by age 7 or 8.”
7 or 8?
For those of you are long out of school–that’s during second grade.
That’s before you learn cursive or times tables.
Second grade is young, very young. And even younger when you consider the implications of early puberty.
The NYTimes articles mentions:
“The issue is of concern for both medical and psychosocial reasons. Socially and emotionally, life can be difficult for a girl who has a child’s mind in a woman’s body and is not ready to deal with sexual advances from men and boys, or cope with her own hormone-spiked emotions and sexual impulses.”
It is pretty darn troubling when you consider that the early sexualization of girls is already so commonplace—often before they understand what is happening—and now younger and younger girls are starting to look old beyond their years.
For example, anyone remember the little sister in Mean Girls?
Every time we see her in the film, she’s doing some sort of vaguely inappropriate dance while emulating music video pop stars. It’s supposed to be funny (and it is, within the context of the movie) and a bit of commentary aimed at our culture and parenting.
It’s less funny, however, in real life. A 7 or 8 year old may not realize that she’s acting in what is supposed to be an overtly sexual manner, because sex doesn’t mean anything to her at that age.
What happens, however, when you have a young girl who looks much older acting in this same totally innocently ’sexual’ manner?
Plus, it starts the cycle of harassment that much earlier. Instead of a 13 year old learning to ignore cat-calls and unwanted attention, you have a 7 year old feeling threatened.
This also reminds me of a case that made headlines a few years ago.
A judge handed down an incredibly lenient sentence (2 years) after a 25 year old man was convicted of raping a 10 year old girl.
He said “the case was exceptional because the ‘young woman’ had been wearing a frilly bra and thong. It [was] quite clear she is a very disturbed child and a very needy child and she is a sexually precocious child. She liked to dress provocatively.”
I refuse to believe that wearing a bra or thong at ANY age is provocative, or some sort of mitigating factor when considering rape.
Would the judge have felt any differently if it were an 8 year old wearing a frilly bra and thong? Or a seven year old?
It’s distressing to think about, but the logic behind that sentence is scary.
And now young girls are being bombarded by sexually explicit images at the same time that they are developing at a younger age.
It all seems like the recipe for disaster—which is exactly why it’s so important that we talk about all of the implications for young girls.