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Why Can't We Just Let 17 Be 17?

July 14, 2015 2 min read

Bella Thorne has been busy snapping selfies on the set of MTV's Scream. She looks great, no doubt, but she certainly doesn't look 17. Comments on the photos have been varied. Some commenting on how sad it is that she doesn't look like a kid while the most disturbing, to my mind, are the ones that comment on her body and sex appeal. One comment says "She's not even legal yet" while another response says "Depends on where you live." Now, there is nothing inherently creepy in that but it does leave me feeling unsettled. There is no way around it. Bella Thorne is a child. Yes, she's been on the 'scene' from a young age but she's still a kid. Anyone who has teenagers knows that they live on social media, her knowing that she looks good and taking a selfie isn't exactly the issue for me. The issue is the way the media picks this up and validates it all. We have, as a culture, prescribed a definition of sexy. We tell women how to perform that version of sexy. Problem is, women aren't the only one getting that message. For nearly as long as there have been people on this planet, teens have been trying to appear older. That's not new (nor is it a problem on it's own) but we seem to be sending the message that the fastest way to appear older is to be sexy. We elevate the girls who can really pull this off. Bella Thorne. The Jenner girls. Even Cindy Crawford's 13 year old can enter this conversation. These girls play the part and we reward them with praise, adoration and our money. This plants seeds of trouble in young minds. What if you are a teenage girl and you can't pull off this move? If Bella Thorne is the height of sexy and you can't fit into that dress (I probably couldn't have fit a leg in there), does that make you less than valuable? Of course it doesn't but you sure feel like it does. Some of our girls are being set up for a lifetime of chasing an impossible, ghost of an ideal. We've commodified women's bodies. We've commodified sex. We've made 'youth' one of the main markers of beauty. How do you cash in on this market of objectification? You find those girls who can play that part I mentioned before. Ones who have physically matured enough to be painted up and paraded around a television set for our entertainment. How do you get a youthful looking 35 year old? Cast a 17 year old. Worst part, we eat it up like candy. What are your thoughts? Do we sexualize our children? h/t: Daily Mail Do you follow us on Instagram? [caption id="attachment_98507" align="alignnone" width="100"]snapchat snapcode @BodyRockTV[/caption]  

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