Not a girl, not yet a woman- just a tramp

March 14, 2002, midnight | By Katie Jentleson | 18 years, 10 months ago

Young girls surrender their childhood innocence under pressure from pop culture, biology

Their shirts say it all, more often than not in glitter applique. They are "Foxy." They are "Sexy." They are "Flirts." On a good day, and by good I mean one filled with Limited Too confetti hair gel and platform Sketchers, they are even "Foxy Sexy Flirts."

But if I could make them a shirt, it would read, "Save me: I'm only ten years old, but I already act like I'm too cool for school." Maybe my t-shirt would not be hip enough to wear to the next mixer, but at least I'd make my point; I'm generally concerned for the future of the lip-glossed and overly sexed nymphet better known as the preteen American girl.

These girls' clothing and steep monthly gratuities to Bath and Body Works are only an indication of what's making me want to wretch right on their new collection of NOW! music CDs. Their hoochie apparel is just part of a premature attempt at external sexuality which strangles the joy from their childhood. These girls have chosen to cast forts and lemonade stands aside for a desire to become grown-up long before they are emotionally ready to do so, and I'm here to say slow down, for the love of Britney.

Part of the ever-growing rush to mature can be attributed to biology. In 1997, the University of North Carolina School of Public Health published the first report to establish the apparent trend in earlier sexual development for young girls. In a study of 17,000 girls, 15 percent of white girls and 50 percent of black girls were showing signs of sexual maturity by age eight. This means that before they even graduate elementary school, more girls than ever before are having to deal with breasts and unprecedented body hair.

I do not doubt that for the majority of the girls who start experiencing puberty at such an early age the changes are unwelcome. Let's face it: no girl wants to be the one with the hairiest legs in her reading group or the girl with the biggest breasts this side of the monkey bars. In fourth grade, you only want to choreograph dances with your friends and eat Moon Pies. But the problem is that your breasts won't go away, and your body hair just keeps getting thicker, so all you can really do is learn how to deal with these apparent mutations. This causes a necessity for training bras and Gillette Daisy razors which can often be mistaken as a introduction into womanhood.

The first time a girl shaves, she acknowledges that she will succumb to society's standard of what's sexy, thus saying good-bye to the days when she could run around her neighborhood, hairy legs and all. The first time a girl goes to Victoria's Secret it means she intends to let someone other than her laundry-washer see her underwear.

So you can imagine that every time I see a bare-legged, pink-and-white lingerie-bag-toting preteen gamboling around the mall, I feel a little sad for the innocence they have lost.

Now that they've figured out how to tame their new bodies, they feel a desire to get out and use them, despite the fact that few preteen girls can maintain a conversation with a boy their age, let alone a healthy sexual relationship. The result: A 2000 Twist Magazine poll of 10,000 teenage girls, including many under 14, revealed that 25 percent had had oral sex. According to a 1999 Washington Post article, Joan Foster, a guidance counselor at White Oak Middle School has begun to worry that oral sex is becoming "la mode de la sex" for middle schoolers.

Oral sex has become a four-letter word to our society. It's not often mentioned in health curriculums, and from experience with my own mother, parents look down on it as degrading, since the flower child generation preferred other kinds of free love. So I feel it is important for me to make this point: oral sex should not be considered an exciting alternative to kissing, but rather something which requires as much emotional maturity as sex.

If you still giggle every time you utter any name for female or male genitalia, you are not mature enough to be having oral sex. And I have yet to meet a girl under 14 who can say "penis" while keeping a straight face.

I still remember how frustrating it was to be "not a girl, not yet a woman" (thanks Brit for being so dang eloquent), but it doesn't mean you should be a tramp. There will be plenty of time to use your breasts and raging hormones later; for now I urge you preteen girls to stick with just being kids.

These are your last days to throw thongs and bikinis waxes to
he wind, so don't waste them or I'll show up at your door to personally beat you with your fuzzy throw pillows and inflatable furniture. Just remember: it's hard to be a woman, but it's even harder to be a woman when you're ten.

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Katie Jentleson. Katie Jentleson is currently a senior attending the Communication Arts Programs at Blair. This is her second year on paper although she was enrolled in Mr. Mathwin's journalism class both semesters two years ago. Katie has played field hockey and softball for the past three … More »

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