What Happened to Little Girls?

This week, I was absolutely floored by a picture in an article in Coloures entitled: "Little Black Girls and Weaves: How Young is too Young?" The image was of a young black girl who looked no older than possibly 4 or 5 years old with a full weave à la Beyoncé -- feathered and all. Her hair wasn't the only disturbing sight, but also her "grown woman" poses with hand on hip and head thrown back like she was posing on the runway. I thought to myself, My goodness, can this little girl be allowed to be a child? What was the rush in expediting her path to puberty?

We are living in an era of hyper-sexuality, where everything, it seems, has become magnified by ten. It's not just the weaves for children, but clothing, music, etc. What was considered inappropriate just a few decades ago, like the show "Toddlers and Tiaras," where competitions are won based on the spray-tanned sex appeal of a 3-year-old, has now become as normalized as apple pie. And this latest culture shift is sending our kids the wrong message. If at 4 or 5 years old, you are getting a full weave to make you "cute," what will be your fix at 20? Nothing, it seems, is off-limits.

This new "mini me culture" reminds me of a "Sex and the City" episode where Samantha was doing PR for the birthday party of a 13-year-old. This 13-year-old walked, talked and dressed like a woman in her thirties. On the outside, it looked like this little "it" girl had it all, but with a second look, the SATC women realized she had lost something they cherished: the freedom to be a carefree child. The young girl had become so image-obsessed she sped right past her childhood and into the oncoming traffic and chaos of adulthood -- except without the emotional wherewithal to handle it.

It's not just TV that is the culprit for turning our little princesses into wannabe prostitutes, either. There is an entire fashion and beauty industry that is making money off of peddling sexy clothing, miniature high heels and makeup to pre-pubescent girls. Do you remember the thongs made for children Abercrombie and Fitch got heat for it a few years back and had to pull from the stores? What about padded training bras for pre-teens? And then there are the Brats dolls that where clothing that would make Pamela Anderson blush.

Pamela Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate my Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Girlie Girl Culture, said it best, "It's subtle stuff that puts girls on the road to getting their identity from how they look, which as they get older will be increasingly defined as hot and sexy... and you can see it starting with the Disney princesses."

What ever happened to the days of dress up? Where little girls played in their mother's clothes but then put their own age-appropriate styles back on? Sure, adulthood is great, but I would never return the carefree path of my 1980's childhood for the puberty express lane of the new millennium pre-teen kid -- I'd rather kick back and play another game of Tetris in my oh-so-fashionable overalls and pig-tails.