To be Pretty or to be Smart and Successful?

Essential Question: (Why do teenage girls feel the need of being sexualized, and how can society prevent it from continuing?)

This generation is living in The Big Booty Era. If you do not know what it is, it is where the majority of the girls are concerned about having a big butt. In social media that is what most girls are showing off. There is a competition between all girls to see who has a big butt and who does not. Is not just about that, but their whole outside appearance and how good they look, from having their hair done and wearing certain type of clothes. Why is this important? It is important because is changing the culture and the focus of teenage girls. They are focusing on their appearance and forget about their future and their education, which is what should matter the most.

In social media I have seen most girls post pictures that are very revealing. There are young girls that are about 10 years old who are already in these pages trying to act like teenage girls who are older than 16. This Is a problem because they are little girls and they should be focused on something else like school and not their appearance. This is a problem that our generation is facing. Girls are not even having a childhood, they are growing up too fast. Everybody can notice this just by looking around and in schools too. There are some reasons to why girls are acting this way. There is not just one person to blame or certain people.

The desire to feel sexually attractive starts at a very young age depending on who the person looks up to. It takes time for girls to find out who they really are because as they are growing up, they see so many changes in their bodies and they notice other girls around them. Also, they notice they start getting attention from boys and compliments. Sometimes even adults and people they look up to. This makes them feel insecure about themselves and in most cases start dressing a certain way to get some attention too. They do not know if the way they are acting is what is good for them or not, they see it normal because everybody around them is doing it. The question here is, why do girls have this behavior?

When I was about 12 years old, I remember it was the first time I put on makeup . In an interview I had with expert Tanya from the web page About-Face asked me when was the first time I started to care about my looks. She then asked me that why did I start wearing makeup at 12 years old. Who was I looking up to? I then realized I was looking at my older sister who at the time was 15 years old.  The women in our lives influence us on what attractive looks like. An example of this is the jewelry they start putting on us since very little, starting with having the ears pierced to wearing cute short skirts. Is very different for a guy then a girl because a guy is does not care about how they look until they grow up. Instead they are raised to be manly and be smart to work.

Tanya made me think about why exactly I was dressing and looking a certain way. Is not just me, but I am sure this happened to most girls as they were growing up. I would wear revealing clothing to look older and would sometimes lie about my age. This is dangerous because in social media there are many young girls who lie about their age and they put themselves in danger. They think is safe to chat with strangers who sweet talks them. This is dangerous because at one point they start talking about more serious stuff like meeting up and maybe sometimes even have sexual conversations.

Girls are taught to be pretty at a very young age. Why? The motivation is about who you dress for and not for you to feel good and be comfortable with yourself. Boys are supposed to be tough and to take care of the girls. This is a way to say that males have  power over females. A lot of times girls are taught to care about doing your hair and having your nails done, instead of being smart and thinking about their future to have a stable job as well as lifestyle. This should be enforced in school as well as at home, to start getting this in the head of everybody as they are growing up.

She talked about the role of the women in a Latino culture. “To listen to men and be quiet”, she said in the interview we had. How are the parents teaching the kids about gender?  They play a huge role in the way boys are taught to respect girls. They see the way the men in their life talk and treat the women in their life. A lot of the times parents have no idea that this is very important for the boys to learn at a young age to respect girls. The life at home reflects a lot of how the parents raise their kids. This goes into how community is.

The community should teach the kids and teenagers to value themselves. Being different than the rest is not bad. Girls are focused on popularity and fitting in. There is peer pressure who might make girls do things they do not want to because they do not feel comfortable. For example acting a certain way towards people and doing things like maybe drugs and alcohol just to fit in. These people think popularity is everything. If you do not do things a certain way you are not “cool” and can not hang out with the popular kids. To get attention is not a conscious decision, it is a pressure from other people. What would happen if we do not fit in? Middle school is the big change for girls starting with their body changes. Of course is good to have good communication skills and to be social, but there’s a way to do it that does not harm you. The answer is not to be wanted by guys, but being friendly and having healthy relationships with their peers.

Another thing that is important is how the girls dress and the age they start showing too much skin. Tanya made me realize that “sexy” is not the same thing for everybody. There is always a motivation to the way a girl is dressing. Most of the times is to impress the guys and wear things that guys think is sexy. They are not exactly looking at what they can show respect to themselves. The more they see it the more they think is normal, this means if they see most teenage girls revealing too much skin then they see it as something normal. Is going with the flow and trying to fit in with the rest because of the fear of being left aside. Having conversations to what it means to have self respect and to show it with the relationships around you is important because who you are is what defines you.

One statistic says that 52% of kids between the age of 1 and 8 have access to an electronic device (ipods, tablets, phones, computers, etc). Many wonder if is bad for kids to have phones. According to Tanya it is bad for them to have full access by having a phone of their own. Although, she said “we all love media and have access to it”, it is not bad if they know how to use it and for them to have social media, but there’s a limit and some boundaries of how much they spend on it, also how are they using it and for what purpose.

Television is a big influence for social media. There is a statistic that 42% kids under the age of 8 have TVs in their room. There are some advertisements and TV shows that they are being exposed too. Gerbner said that “a person who watched four or more hours of television per day was more likely than someone who watched less, to have his or her perceptions of reality shaped by the television programs they viewed.” In almost every commercial there are women showing the product; the bad part is how they are portrayed. Most of the times, they are half naked when they have nothing to do with what the commercial is really trying to show. With less sexual education girls try to figure it out by themselves and a lot of times go to pornography. Many do not know that porn is performative which means that the people doing it are not enjoying it, they are just being sexualized to project fantasies to the viewers. Is the way girls are being exposed on the cover of a magazine or how much clothes she is wearing in the poses, where the model is standing to show some body parts so she looks sexy. The purpose of these pictures are about “the sexualization and objectification of the female body”, women’s bodies are looked as objects instead of humans.

This leads to people wanting to act like certain celebrities or models. Most of the people blame the media for this behavior in teenage girls. In the article Considering Age and Gender: A Comparative Content Analysis of Sexualization of Teen Celebrity Websites it said that “With each innovation the potential for effects is greater than with previous media.The richer the medium is the more deeply invested its consumers become in the content.” This means that media tries to come up with new products for the consumers because everybody always wants the latest stuff. We live in an ambitious world where everybody always wants more and more and they never get enough.

What many do not remember when they look at television is that is fake. They put a fake life and they make people think they want those lives. For example in the TV shows they put girls with a wealthy life and that gets everything she wants. Also, she has the best clothing and has a lot of accessories. Another thing they portray in television is girl power as sexual power. ”In fictional representations of women, physical power and sexualization are often intermixed, creating confusing messages about power dynamics; conflating being sexual as being powerful.” In movies is so popular that the pretty girl gets the guy and uses her sexuality to get what she wants in her job. Is the wrong message for the women and especially for young girls. Although, they can give good messages, it depends how a person sees it and pays attention to them. Celebrities just give this messages because is their job to act and do what they are told to keep getting paid.

The reason why celebrities do this is for the fame. Their job is to do what they are told to by their superiors in the media. They do it to get more money and to get more fame, because teenagers and children spend more time on entertainment websites then educational websites, celebrities know is important to keep their websites updated and always something new for the viewers. Also it is easier to manipulate the minds of teenagers who are experimenting with their life and wanting to do something new. They want to fit in in high school and always be better than their peers.

In conclusion this information matters because it gives us some of the roots of where this problem comes from. A big part is media who brings ideas to teenage girls as they are growing up. There is easy access to social media now a days and we can see that as time passes by, the looks are all that matters for society in order to be “successful.” Media portrays that women should focus on their looks and that it is a competition because the better you look the more opportunities come your way. This is not true. In the real world it is not all about the looks, but about how talented you are at something. In a job they want see what skills you can bring to the table and that is the real competition. They seek the people that fit the job best and not for who dresses better or looks better. Women should be preparing for life and their future by getting a good education.

There is not exactly a solution to this problem because media has gone too far and is very hard to take those ideas out of girls minds. Instead, we can teach them better at home and put some boundaries of how to dress and educate them about how it is not that important to look better than others. In addition, we can prepare them for their future and to put their education first. We need to be careful with the mindset we think is right now a days because it might be wrong. Do not follow with what everybody else is doing. Whatever you put in mind is what you will become. A quote by Katie Couric says ”The media can be an instrument of change… It can awaken people and change minds. It depends on who is piloting the plane.” This means that media is a very strong instrument of change in society. It can persuade in the way they want people to think and be or act. It all depends how they do it and who they use to make people believe what they want them to, it is all about manipulating people’s minds. Society should make us think that we should, “Try to focus on celebrating each other’s accomplishments and personality traits rather than looks.”

Work Cited Page

 

Beat, Tanya About-Face, May, 17 2015

Brinkman, Britney, Khan, Aliya, Jedinak, Allison, Vetere, Lauren. “College Women’s Reflection on media Representations of Empowerment.” 2014. Web. 5, 17. 2015

http://library.nhu.edu/

Audrey. “”Era of the Big Booty”? No thanks.” Feb, 18. 2014. Web. 5,17. 2015

http://www.about-face.org/era-of-the-big-booty-no-thanks/

Tara. “Advertising and porn: Why can’t we tell the difference?.” Feb, 25. 2015. Web. 5, 17. 2015

http://www.about-face.org/advertising-and-porn-why-cant-we-tell-the-difference/

Lewis, Susan, Shewmaker, Jennifer. “Considering Age and Gender: A Comparative Content Analysis of Sexualization of Teen Celebrity Websites.” Web. 5,17. 2015

http://library.nhu.edu/

Charles, Claire Elizabeth. “New girl heroes: the rise of popular feminist commentators in an era of sexualisation.”  May 2012. Web. 5, 17. 2015

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