Dressing for Other People or, The Sexualization of Girls.


I’m being lazy today so, rather than write my own thoughts on this issue, I’m pasting an excerpt from an article in the Guardian:

This is an economic imperative, pure and simple. It makes sound business sense to identify tweenaged girls’ image-related anxieties and offer them the clothes, cosmetics and pop culture characters they envy of their older sisters in order to set them on the consumer escalator that will keep them insecure and over-spending well into adulthood. But it is also a corrosive imperative that eats away at fundamental aspects of a young girl’s personhood: her sense of self, her ambitions, and her most intimate relationships.

. . .

[B]oys like girls who wear short skirts and shorts tops, and even in winter they don’t like baggy clothes, it’s tight tops and skinny jeans . . .. ‘You don’t dress for yourself, it’s more for other people.'”

. . .

But this internal surveillance has been well and truly co-opted by the market. And the pornification of that market means attractiveness of girls and women is now synonymous with sexiness, while sexiness is synonymous with performance rather than actual pleasure. This cultural sexism has significantly shifted the terms of reference for young women. A research analysis undertaken by Women in Journalism this year found that, while primary school girls were happy to imagine themselves as the next prime minister, aspirations shrunk with age to dwell around the appearance-dependent occupations of modelling, pop singing and generic celebrity. Beneath the patina of sisters-sexing-it-up-for-themselves, girls are encouraged to view one another as rivals for male attention rather than as allies.”

Read the full article here.


4 thoughts on “Dressing for Other People or, The Sexualization of Girls.

  1. Bob,

    Thanks for reading my blog and leaving a comment. But I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing. I do agree with you that men/boys dress for other people too, but the context is somewhat different. Correct me if I’m wrong but to my knowledge, there isn’t a fashion industry that revolves around boys. Boys’ clothing hasn’t changed in the past few decades, whereas girls’ clothing has: you’ve got halter tops for girls as young as 7, makeup, mini-skirts, etc. Boys’ can still get by with the standard shorts and t-shirt combo, just as they did back in the ’60s and ’70s.

    But the biggest difference is that our society doesn’t sexualize/fetishize boys in the same what that it does girls. The image of pre-teen boys is not presented for consumption in the same way as that of pre-teen girls. Look at the American Apparel ad in the post. I challenge you to find an equivalent image of a boy of that age.


  2. Guys are dressing for other people too… Think of it this way… If I was to dress for what actually is my personality… being professional for what I do… and giving it 100%. I would be branded as “oddball,” perhaps something other than a completely straight guy for wanting to look as professional and fully-dressed in that manner as possible… What if I were to do that as close to all the time as possible… that would be real troubling to many people… “Hmm somethings up with that guy.. ” I just want to never have my clothing misrepresent me… I honestly don’t think anyone else wants that either… Regardless of gender.


  3. Ugghh…..don’t get me started on American Apparel’s sexualization of young women. The moron who founded and is the CEO of Apparel, Dov Charney, has been known to photography many of of the ad campaignes in his own apartment, which feature young women in suggestive poses. I remember last year or the year before that, the Guardian magazine had a article about Charney and mentioned how many of the ads had very young girls, between the ages of 15-17 in extremely sexual positions. The articled also mentioned that Charney has been accused of sexual harassment of three of his former employees. Anyway, you can look on Wikipedia for more info on this jerk:


    Lets face it, American Apparel clothing is overpriced shit and it needs something to sex it up- i.e. young girls. My generation of women didn’t feel the overwhelming need to “sex-up” our image for boys. I remember back in the day that Debbi Gibson and Tiffany, my generation’s “Britney” and “Christina” wore often the same sort of outfits I’d wear, which were age appropriate and “conservative” for today’s youth generation. I fear for the young generation of women who are increasingly pressured by the media to act older than they are- robbing them of a childhood.

    Don’t get me wrong– I am not some neo-conservative. However, I am truly disgusted that for today’s young women, being a nurse, teacher, and scientist are not “hip” enough– instead, the media is force-feeding the perception on young women that getting fake boobs, being skinny, botoxing, and maintaining your precious youth are the ONLY way to be successful and happy!

    Let’s not forget how all of this affects the perceptions and ideas of young men today….


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