A provocative, borderline alarmist Newsweek story on the hyper-sexualization of American youth culture paints a disturbing picture of Ugg boot–wearing, Taylor Swift–listening girls who are social media obsessed but too young to sign up for Facebook—in other words, tweens.
Tweens range in age from 10 to 12. The term originally referred to those female preadolescents who were too old for toys and too young for boys. But the girls described in this story are all about boys.
The lengthy story titled “Sex and the Single Tween” opens with a shocking conversation between a group of girls, ages 11 and 12, who talk about boobs, boyfriends and oral sex. It’s the sort of conversation that you might remember being a part of as a college student living in a dorm. But 11-year-olds talking about blow jobs? That’s what tween culture has come to according to the story’s author Abigail Jones. Has Jones accurately captured the essence of American girl culture? Let’s hope she’s off the mark.
Jones presents a rather convincing case that the current generation of tweens is far more advanced than girls from past eras. These Juicy Couture girls sport shorter skirts and are more boy-obsessed. They know more about sex and wear more makeup.
These girls are far more mature because they’re living in a world in which everything that could possibly be sexualized is sexualized, from Halloween costumes to toys. “Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake have morphed from pudgy cartoon characters into slimmed down infantile sexpots, and even My Little Pony and Candyland — yes, a toy horse and a board game – got sexy makeovers,” Jones writes. What’s more, today’s role models are far trashier. Case in point: Miley Cyrus “twerking” against Robin Thicke’s crotch in a performance at the 2013 Video Music Awards.