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.