March 22, 2013

When is Young Too Young?

Yesterday, there was an article published online asking how young is too young for girls to wear “sexy” lingerie. The piece focused mainly on the new line of underwear for the pre-teen/tween demographic sold by Victoria’s Secret. Typically, the news media were all over the idea of “lacy lingerie for little girls” and one brave “mommy blogger” stood up against them.

It’s an interesting subject – given how virtually no one with the exception of a mother should ever see a young girl in her underwear. I’ll also grant an exception to a licensed physician, but I think you know my point.

One problem is how society has sexualized this age group. And, without a doubt, some parents have seemingly surrendered good sense along the way (Honey Boo Boo / Toddlers in Tiaras). But for them, there is little hope that we will ever convince them to see the ridiculousness of their actions.

On the larger scale, society has forgotten how to see little girls as just that, little girls. The masses have been sucked in by the sheer over-whelming power of marketing, merchandising and materialism.

In a way, the lingerie company has simply followed the trend. As they have evolved over the past decade from a primarily “sexy” company to one that offers something for a more mainstream audience, they have identified and pursued new opportunities to make money. That’s business, that’s how it’s done.

Every little girl wants to feel more grown up; to feel like a princess. The issue I see with the question at hand is that the rest of us want to take that and turn it into some perverse sexual connotation. Self-esteem at that age is fragile enough; it always has been, the Internet and explosion of media in our lives has only made it worse. Now every 9-year old has to carefully plot her every move, for fear of being alienated by her peer group.

When I was that young, underwear tended to be serviceable and practical. As my grandmother might say, “dainty.” It wasn’t until I was in my teens that anything remotely sexy came into my intimate wardrobe – but I attribute that to the environment in which I grew up, as opposed to access to lacy, frilly things.

Frankly, as an adult and a lover of fine lingerie, I think it’s a great idea that younger women are introduced to idea of what can be feminine and empowering. It’s only sexual when it’s used in that context. In fact, most days, unless I choose to let anyone in on the secret no one knows what I have on under my clothes.

And frankly, that’s the way it should be for a 9-year, too. It’s time the media (and the Internet) found something more intriguing than a young girl’s laundry.

As an aside to this, what I personally find equally amusing is that the “Pink” line of lingerie from VS – obviously targeted for the college set – is more about “cute” and “collegiate.” Underpants with pop culture patterns, slogans and mostly made of good old-fashioned cotton, being marketed to an age group where the female body is probably at its most perfect physical form.

Is 9 too young for “sexy” underwear? It’s only sexy if the media wants to stick its nose in the bedrooms of pre-teen girls across the continent. Personally, I find that more creepy.
Andee     xoxo 

1 comment:

Gemma Jones said...

Not living in the Americas I haven't seen the line of underwear in question but I kind of get where you are coming from. My husband tells me and I tend to agree on the whole that a lot of women wear underwear not because they are necessarily planning on showing it to any interested males (or females) but because they think it is pretty and it makes them feel nice to wear it. So tweens are just looking for the same thing. As a mother of a tween who is about to purchase her first 'real' bra I don't kid myself that she will keep it entirely to herself. I am sure her friends will get to see it!!
There are plenty of other more obvious items of clothing that drive men sexually wild that we see young girls wearing such as short shorts, tiny tops, high heels etc. A recent post by NLikes described a much more conflicting and disturbing scenario that he witnessed than tweens wearing pretty bras.
Now this is a little freaky.