Say Goodbye to the Girl Next Door: The Sexualization of Our Youth

Say Goodbye to the Girl Next Door: The Sexualization of Our Youth

I ran across an article today blasting Disney movies for perpetuating the expectation for women, especially young girls, to act with a certain decorum (like a princess) or risk being shamed. Has anyone opened their eyes recently? All you have to do is look at a recent homecoming photo to see that this is simply not the case at all. Girls are not expected to be the ‘girl next door’ anymore. They are expected to be Playboy bunnies. Skimpy dresses, stripper heels, two inches of make-up, and that all too familiar duck face have become the new expectation for teenagers. The nice girl is no longer the aspiration of little girls. Just turn on any Disney Channel TV show and you’ll see the main female protagonist blatantly disrespecting her parents while canned laughter plays in the background. She’s cool, she’s spunky, she gets the guy in the end, and all it takes is sneaking out to that party and ignoring her parent’s advice (and all with a snarky attitude). Shows like Pretty Little Liars and Secret Life of the American Teenager show sexually active teens as the norm. These shows are being watched by middle school and elementary school girls and their stars have become their idols.

With Miley Cyrus, Kei$ha, and Lady Gaga as today’s ‘role models’, I don’t see the ‘girl next door’ coming back anytime soon. In fact, Miley Cyrus’ pre-life crisis only shows that the more scandalous you are, the more attention you get. What a lovely lesson to be teaching our youth. So despite the supposed feminist fight for women that is currently the trend right now, women are being more and more scrutinized, sexualized, and objectified. All the ‘nice girls’, like Nancy Drew and Cinderella, are now seen as a threat to the empowerment of women with the ‘traditional’ view of women being deemed as ignorant and sexist. Even the Girl Scouts of America have jumped on the band-wagon and have begun passing out brochures and guides that celebrate masturbation and feature tips like the ‘Top Ten Reasons for having an Abortion”. Girls are being encouraged to explore their sexuality and to embrace a more free and progressive lifestyle. Ellen Page, the actress famous for her role in ‘Juno’, has recently become outspoken about her support for the female porn industry, saying “that feminist porn is crucial” to society and the empowerment of women. And media isn’t the only force preaching this message, the clothing industry has begun to catch up with culture. Stores like J.C. Penny’s are selling padded bras designed for 7 to 9 year old girls. American Apparel has been using the sex-as-marketing approach for years with 1970’s playboy pin-ups lining their walls. Victoria’s Secret launched a new line of underwear including thongs targeting 15-16 year olds and featuring phrases like “call me” and  “dare you” on the crotch. The CFO explained that ,“[15 and 16 year olds] want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at Pink”. This is the message retailers are sending and teenage girls are buying.

So no, I don’t think women are under some harsh expectation of innocence and naivety. In fact, I wish they were. I wish it was socially acceptable for little girls to act their age and for girls (and guys) to become sexually active upon marriage. I wish they would stop making make-up for 4th graders and that retailers would ask to see an ID before they sold you a pair of 6 inch heels. I wish that it was still considered inappropriate to show your mid-drift and wear booty shorts. And I wish the world had the ‘finger-tip’ rule when it came to the length of your skirt. I wish that no little girl would be caught in a comprising position with a webcam or have her sexting photos used as blackmail. I wish little girls found their self-esteem in their personalities and their brains and not the size of their jeans or their boobs. I wish they had role models that encouraged them in their femininity, preaching that they are made in the image of God to be man’s perfect compliment not his property or his superior. But we don’t. So if the morals of Disney princesses are all we have right now, then I’m all for it.

How Disney Shaped Our Childhoods

How Disney Shaped Our Childhoods

We 90’s kids really take our childhood for granted. We were blessed to be born in a decade that brought us almost ALL of the great Disney classics. Can you imagine your childhood, and consequently, your life without magic carpet rides, mermaids, talking tableware, and pixie dust? Whether you’re a Disney fan or not, these movies shaped our childhoods, our dreams, and our expectations. I bet you any girl you meet will tell you that, though they love Disney movies, they blame them for their unrealistic expectations of love. I bet that most guys you meet will feel a special kinship with Woody or Buzz, having been told to “reach for the sky!” They know with confidence that there is something out their beyond infinity. Girls across the globe have felt empowered by Mulan and Belle, women who were misunderstood by their worlds and who never really fit in. We ladies belted their anthems at the top of our lungs (and still do) as our self-esteems wrestled with the self-deprecating messages the rest of the world told us were true. As boys struggled with their own respective coming-of-age stories, they were reassured that they could go the distance and that even a ‘street rat’ could change his world. As we all grew up and went through those crazy years of adolescence, we were comforted by two silly words: Hakuna Matata. The fact these two words never existed in any language didn’t matter, they meant “no worries!” to us. And we listened.

As our generation enters the post-grad realm of adulthood, we still cringe when we hear the words “Disney Vault”, knowing full well that one of our beloved movies will be sucked into a capitalistic wormhole, not to be seen for at least 5 years time. But though our movies are locked away, we still have their music. Those songs have the power to rekindle fond memories of youth and to empower our teen angst-y souls, bonding a generation through soulful lyrics and a familiar tune.

Songs and quotes that didn’t mean so much at the time have been given new meaning with age. There is some seriously solid advice hidden between the lines of the sheet music. Advice like:

“Always let your conscience be your guide.” -Pinocchio

“The past can hurt, but the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” – Lion King

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” – Mulan

“Even miracles take a little time.” – Cinderella

I could go on and on and on.

So why all this nostalgia?… Why not? In a world with a bunch of crap currently going on, we all need a little reminder to “just keep swimming!”. And so I leave you with with a video of some chaps who understand me:

My Top 6 Disney Leading Men

My Top 6 Disney Leading Men

Or more appropriately titled, “My Top Animated Male Characters from Disney/Dreamworks Movies”, but the former is shorter. So I was reading an article on HelloGiggles where a blogger listed her Top 5 Disney men and I disagreed with 4 out of 5 of them (Peter Pan, really? Its basically pedophilia.). So I decided to come up with a list of my own. I have chosen 6, yes 6, (I never could just think of 5) of my favorite animated leading men. Here they are:

6. Thomas from Pocahantas

I really wish we saw more of him. He’s cute, young, honest, and has the voice of Christian Bale. Yes, that’s right, Christian Bale. Apparently he is seen more in the sequel. I must rent it….
5. Garret from Quest for Camelot

If you’ve never seen this movie, go rent it right now. If you can’t find it (its kind of rare) I’ll let you borrow my copy. Its pretty awesome AND features Gary Oldman as the villian. So Garret is the leading man of this movie. He is sweet, loves natures, brave, and very independent. But there is a catch: he’s blind. I think this problem is somewhat endearing, especially when he sings “I Stand Alone” (I strongly suggest you look it up on YouTube). Despite him being quite a  genuine person, his blindness has caused him to be a bit bitter but he gets over it in the end.
4. Moses from The Prince of Egypt

This is seriously such a great movie. Plus, weirdly enough, it portrays Moses as somewhat of stud. He’s pretty cute and romantic in a biblically traditional sense (which I love). He is so high on my list due to his leadership skills and the fact that he is a man of God. Fun Fact: He is the only character who actually existed. I’d follow him into the Red Sea any day.

3. Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid

Seriously, why didn’t Disney give this guy a song?! I waited the whole movie for him to sing a duet with Ariel, but no. Thanks a lot Disney. Thankfully, when the movie hit the Broadway stage a couple years ago they gave him some songs, which are awesome. Seriously, this guy meets all of the Disney Princes. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty and loves the girl, not because of her looks, but because of her talent. Plus, he’s like super patient with her when she’s mute. Not many guys would try so hard to get to know a mute girl.

2. Aladdin from Aladdin

Need I explain anything? He’s got a bunch of street smarts, loves Jasmine as a poor homeless lady, and basically roundhouse kicks Jafar in the face. However, his dishonesty, dreams of riches, and discontentment with life keep him from the #1 spot. PLUS, he is played by Steve, DJ’s boyfriend, from Full House!

1. Dimitri from Anastasia
I could watch this movie all day long. I LOVE Dimitri. He is definitely the hottest animated character in existence. He is charming, got a lot of street smarts, resourceful, brave, protective, and , most importantly, he is one of the only animated characters who has some character development. He is definitely flawed, he is a con-artist, but shows remorse for his actions and learns from his mistakes. Plus, I love that he appreciates the fact that Anastasia is an independant young women. LOVE HIM.