I still remember how I felt, as a child, when walking past the intimate apparel section of a department store: it was equally awkward and curiosity-provoking. Although these areas usually seemed deserted, I felt the need to pass by them quickly, feeling out-of-place as a little girl who had no need to hang around there. The articles of clothing hanging in these departments seemed to be for much older females — grown women who had reached a level of physical maturity that girls my age were largely unaware of. For the most part, we felt no rush to get there; it was just another stage we would eventually reach in life.
But as I grew up, my world was not the only thing that changed; the world itself was changing. Hemlines went up and necklines went down. The MPAA “ratings creep” had begun, bringing on unprecedented levels of violence, sexual content, and profanity in films with lower age-based ratings. And Victoria’s Secret released its PINK line, targeting girls aged 13-22.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has highlighted the overwhelming number of negative consequences related to the over-sexualization of girls.
These changes may seem subtle and harmless, but they contribute to the sexualization of girls and young women. The American Psychological Association (APA) has highlighted the overwhelming number of negative consequences related to the over-sexualization of girls. These include cognitive and emotional consequences, negative affects on physical and mental health including on self-esteem, self-objectification and other detrimental affects on sexual development and attitudes, affects on the perception of femininity and sexuality, and broader impacts on society. The over-sexualization of girls can be found in many examples, including advertisements, dolls, clothing, and television shows, as well as societal messages.
It is our task now, as girls and women, to take our self-esteem and sexuality into our own hands
The days of awkwardly passing by the quiet lingerie section of a department store are long gone, even for most of the little girls today. That area now seems to be subtle and tame when compared to the ostentatious display next door: pictures of young women modeling provocative lingerie made for 13-year-old girls, blown up to fit the large window of a VS PINK store. The message it sends to its young audience is loud and clear: “Flaunt what you’ve got.”
It is our task now, as girls and women, to take our self-esteem and sexuality into our own hands- and that will begin, first and foremost, with reclaiming control over it, rather than putting it all out there as society demands of us. Because “Victoria’s” big secret, is that she doesn’t have any. And that’s a problem.
Narrated on the authority of Anas bin Malik, the Prophet (saws) said, “When lewdness is a part of anything, it becomes defective, and when haya (modesty) is a part of anything, it becomes beautiful.” [Tirmidhi]