I recently noticed something while taking out the trash the other day — a young girl, no older than 15, standing outside in the Chicago cold in the parking lot of my apartment complex. It was obvious she was freezing. She wore no hat and no pants, although she was fully attired in a black mini skirt, neon purple knee-high boots, and a black coat that barely buttoned up around her small frame.
I asked her, “Where are your clothes?! You’re freezing,” to which she answered, “I’m waiting for my boyfriend. We’re going on our first date and he told me to look nice.”
Now, I am no mother, but I have a baby sister, and for a moment, I saw red, picturing my sweet baby girl as this shivering young teen who claimed she had dressed up like it was a hot summer day for the sole purpose of fulfilling her boyfriend’s wishes.
This is what the sexualization of women has done.
It has ripped nearly every shred of confidence from the average teen girl, who believes that “dressing nice” is the equivalent of showing as much skin as possible. And it isn’t until several broken hearts and bouts of self-hatred later that she begins to accept that she does not have to be a figure of sex. That she does not have to be society’s definition of beauty to find the self acceptance she has seemingly spent a lifetime searching for. Eventually, she turns into herself to find beauty, and it is there, waiting for her, like a flower that’s been blooming for centuries.
The girls who do not reach this realization are easily susceptible to depression, eating disorders, suicide, and human sex trafficking.
One would never think to relate the industry that is trafficking to society’s sexualization of women, when in fact, that is one of its direct causes. It’s got % of girls believing that they are worth nothing more than their body and it’s performance in the bedroom. These girls, instead of turning inward to find themselves, turn outward to the streets, to men and women who whisper lies in their ears and quite often between their legs. And at the end of the day, they are left more broken than the girl who was dressed like a hooker in subzero weather.
So where does this leave us? I surely don’t know. But change needs to happen. How?
I wish I knew.