Yesterday's announcement that the government is set to crack down on the sexualisation of young girls has everyone up in arms. Should we really be trying to protect young eyes from seeing music videos of an overtly sexual nature, or from wearing short skirts? Or is this just classic Brits wrapping up our youth in another layer of cotton wool, mollycoddling them until a kiss in Tracy Beaker is a shocking taboo?
I suppose your view depends on your age. If you're a ten year old idolising the lovely Cheryl Cole, and longing to wear a similar miniskirt and high heel combo, then this talk of government action to keep you attached to your Polly Pockets rather than your make-up bag will seem ridiculous. But I think your perception would change, quite dramatically, hearing your little girl singing along to Rihanna's 'S&M' without a care in the world, as my mum's friend had the joy of experiencing. A seven year old singing about bondage and boudoirs? Something's not quite right there now is it?
I've always been quite interested in this topic, having myself worn a full face of make-up from the age of 12. Concealer, foundation, powder, blusher, mascara, lip gloss: the works. From that fateful day in second year when I grasped my mum's Lancomé foundation in a last-ditch attempt to hide my pre-teen breakout, i've been hooked. And I certainly wouldn't recommend such dependency on make-up, because the day I go without I fear I may petrify someone. I don't know if my make-up habits actually have anything to do with growing up too fast, but I often wish that I had embraced the time when it was fine to look a little bit of a loser.
My generation, however, were a little luckier than todays. It does depend on your personality I think, but if you're easily influenced you are likely to be sucked into the mindset of "I must be pretty, I must be sexy" that the media undeniably creates. Growing up, my role models were S Club 7 and CBBC presenters. While Rachel Stevens et al were all pretty, they didn't writhe around on cars in hotpants, did they? No. They did television shows about endangered species singing about how they've "never had a dream come true"... Not about how much they "wanna see your [dirty] picture." Having influential figures like Rihanna, Katy Perry, Ke$ha and Gaga is probably to blame for our flawed culture where girls are racing to grow up, way too fast.
I remember when Britney Spears' video for "I'm a Slave 4 U" came out and my mum was just appalled and refused to let me watch it. Nowadays every other advert contains a lot worse than that. I hate to sound a total prude, but the majority of music videos are just soft pornography. Miley Cyrus was a good role model for all of 30 seconds before "Hannah Montana" became a pole dancing mess. Rihanna's costumes on various shows probably shouldn't be shown before the watershed... They are mostly just lingerie. I personally do agree with the government that there should be some sort of certification on music videos, because I don't really want the next generation of British girls growing up with the main objective of bagging themselves a rapper and wearing as little as possible.
I don't totally disagree with young girls being interested in hair and make-up and whatever, it's only natural really. But there does need to be a line drawn between building up a glittering collection of Barry M dazzle dust (ah the nostalgia) and marketing a pre-teen bikini wax which is just creepy, really. It's the regimes of tanning, manicuring, nipping and tucking that were once reserved to those fending off the ageing process that are now normal for girls as young as 10. I just did a bit of googling and found out about a ten-year old girl who "just doesn't feel right" without her St Tropez. When I was 10 I didn't even know St. Tropez was a place, let alone a tanning brand. It's all about changing attitudes, and these changes aren't all positive.
In terms of fashion, I don't actually think that young girls dress particularly provocatively. I guess skirts have got shorter, and tops have got lower, but I haven't exactly noticed a sudden surge of hot pants and crop tops at New Look 915 or wherever children shop these days (I was a Gap and Jigsaw girl myself, with a penchant for Logo and Tammy). I don't necessarily agree that restrictions should be introduced on what garments shops can market at young people, that's a little bit intense!
It's more about changing the role models for young people when it comes to stopping the race to grow up. Kate Middleton's a good one, even though she supposedly 'bagged her prince' by wearing a see-through dress! I am glad that her influence is sure to increase over the next few years- it's much needed I think. I'd much rather be Kate than I would Ke$ha. Just saying...