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Research Paper

  1. 1. Hieber1Jessica HieberMrs. LesterAdvanced Composition11 October 2011 Teenage Girls are Dressing Provocatively In her article, "Media and Clothing Market Influence on Adolescent Girls:Warnings for Parents,” Katie Hawkes explained that young women are “Fueled byinfluential media and an overly provocative clothing market [that is] rocketing [girls] intoadult behavior... and multiple risks are along for the ride.” Teenage girls feel the need todress provocatively because of the world they are growing up in (Pidd). Specifically, themedia plays a large part in why society has come to accept young women in provocativeclothing. For example, music videos and their lyrics portray women in negative ways(Hawkes). Teen magazines, as well as society’s view on what is acceptable behavior andwhat is not, are not clear and is hypocritical (Gibbons). Teenage girls are growing up in aworld where dressing provocatively has become the acceptable thing to do. Trying to understand the female mind and to why young women are dressingprovocatively has many people confused and questioning the younger generation’sthinking. As teenage girls are looking to find themselves, they “look to women theyadmire, in pursuit of a lifestyle to mimic” (Hawkes). Teenage girls look to older womenand celebrities for advice on everything from what to wear to how they should act. If ateenager wants to fit in, she will look to a woman who is “cool” who will often times be acelebrity (Hawkes). Society glamorizes celebrities in an unhealthy manner. There arewebsites, magazines, and books dedicated to famous actors, singers, and models(Carney). Young people may feel inclined to look up to the celebrities, because American
  2. 2. Hieber2society places such an impact on how the famous live (Hawkins). Girls often try tobecome like the models and teen pop stars who incorporate sexual imagery into theircareer. Celebrities and models are often seen as role models when it comes to fashion, soyoung women want to dress like their idols in order to come off as glamorous andfashionable to their peers (Carney). Often, advertising agencies and the music industry gowith the “sex sells” approach and have scantily clad models when marketing to teenagers(Pidd). Teenagers are viewing sex everyday when they turn on the television (Hawkes).Teenagers are used to seeing sexual activity on television, so they view it as a fun, pasttime, more “recreational rather than relational” (Hawkes). Nowadays, it is hard to find ashow marketed to teenagers that does not show the young girls dressing risqué andprovocatively. If teenage girls are being exposed to sexual situations and seeingimmodestly dressed women everywhere they turn, then that will begin to affecteverything from their clothes to the lifestyle that they choose to live. In addition, the media’s and society’s view on attire greatly impact a teenagegirl’s choice of clothing. In her interview “I Do Feel Pressure to Look Older,” Helen Piddasked a fourteen-year-old girl, why she dresses provocatively and she stated, “Girls areunder pressure to appear sexually available at an increasingly young age.” Teenage girlsfeel the need to fit in with their peers (Pidd). Girls will “police each other” on sexiness. Ifa girl does not adhere to the current trends in fashion, she is considered “uncool” orunattractive (“Sexualization of Girls”). For example, if the current trends are racy, then agirl who wants to fit in and seem in style will dress in an inappropriate way. Dressinginappropriately will not only distract others, but may also, bring unwanted attention to thegirl from boys. Young girls are not emotionally or socially mature enough to respond to
  3. 3. Hieber3males’ unwanted advances (Carney). Because of its sexual image, the music industryimpacts young girls lives with the type of provocative music videos they make. A studyon the impact of music and teenagers revealed that “ much as 81% of music videoscontain sexual imagery” (Hawkes). The saying “actions speak louder than words” comesto mind when reading the statistic. Hearing a song on the radio that is sexually suggestiveis not the same as seeing the artist act out the lyrics in a video. The sexual imagery inmusic videos often show women dressed in barely-there skirts, low cut tops, and lingerie.Clearly, women are shown as sex objects. Teenage girls view the music videos and seethe women dressed in a risqué manner and think that they will be powerful and attractiveif they dress the same as the women in music videos (Hawkes). Even clothing that seemschildish and safe for young women can be “sexed-up” by the music industry. In herarticle, “Media and Clothing Market Influence on Adolescent Girls: Warnings forParents,” Katie Hawkes describes a popular music video: “Clad in... a skimped-downversion of the standard plaid and button down ensemble, (Britney) Spears paraded in herpigtails for her youthful audiences viewing pleasure” (Hawkes). After watching BritneySpears’ music video, teenage girls will associate childishness with sexiness and thereforethe lines between what is acceptable for children and women are blurred (Dumas).Another study found that “adolescents ranked magazines as a more important source ofinformation that their parents, peers, or schools” (Hawkes). Teen magazines are a sourceof information for teenage girls on everything from what clothing is in style to how todeal with boys. Magazines give girls tips on “how to look hot and sneak lip-locks with abeau at the school locker” (Gibbons). The context of the magazines seem to contradictone another. One article is telling girls to be sexy while another is telling a girl that she
  4. 4. Hieber4needs to resist the sexual activities that her clothing provokes. (Gibbons). If the materialsfound in magazines are the only source of information that a girl has been receiving, thenshe can become conflicted on which choices are the right ones and which will hurt her.Teenage girls are being brainwashed by the media and society into thinking that a girlneeds to dress provocatively in order to be accepted by her peers. Young women do not have to succumb to the media’s and society’s views onclothing. For one thing, parents should make checking their teens’ clothing choices a partof their daily routine (Manley). Parents should not complain about not liking the waytheir daughters dress, but try to help them make smarter choices in their clothing. Someways that a parent can help her daughter is to research and point out women in the mediawho dress conservatively (Dumas). Also, adding an undershirt to low cut tops, wearingbermuda (knee to mid thigh length) shorts, and using slips when wearing a dress or skirtare all possible ways to avoid not exposing too much skin, yet stay fashionable. If parentshelp their daughters choose their clothing, then they could both be satisfied with thedaughter’s clothing and therefore have a better relationship. Katie Hawkes, author of“Media and Clothing Market Influence on Adolescent Girls: Warnings for Parent,”criticizes parents stating that “Parents are too reluctant to criticize sexual trends orattitudes because they fear being accused of being judgmental”. If a parent is fearful ofbeing judgmental, she will not confront her daughter about her true feelings on how shedresses. Not speaking to her child about the way she dresses is the exact opposite of whata parent should do. It is the parent’s responsibility to make sure that her daughter isdressing appropriately. If rules and discussions about dressing modestly are notestablished, then a girl has free will to dress in any way that she chooses (Dumas). If a
  5. 5. Hieber5teenage girl is allowed to dress in any way she chooses, then she may fall victim to themedia’s influence. Another way that parents can help prevent their daughters fromdressing provocatively is to monitor their music by installing television filters to check ontheir music purchases” (Hawkes). Because the media plays a large role in influencingteenage girls, it is important for parents to keep an eye on what their daughter watches ontelevision and listens to. Parents should know that it is impossible to monitor every typeof media that their daughter comes in contact with. Thus, a parent should make sure toexplain to their daughter why a particular television show, artist or movie is inappropriateand why her parents do not approve. By explaining the reasons behind their watchful eye,parents can help establish a healthy relationship with their daughters (Lewis). If parentsare showing interest in what their daughter is involved in and who she hangs out with,then their daughter will be less likely to dress immodestly and make negative decisions.If a teenage girl feels connected with her parents, then she will try to please them(Hawkes). Teenage girls do not have to dress immodestly, because there are ways to keepa girl’s clothing fashionable without sacrificing her dignity. The future of young womens clothing all depends on if society’s views on what isacceptable and what is not have changed as well as the media’s influence (Manley). Oneyoung woman, who is fifteen, stated, “teenagers are easily influenced by the media” andwhen asked about why teenagers dress in sexual ways, she blamed the media: “we allwatch TV and movies where celebrities are immodestly dressed...” (Lewis). Teenagersare seeing television shows and movies where the characters are dressing immodestly andby seeing the characters and celebrities dress that way, teenage girls are under theimpression that dressing in a sexual manner is acceptable for the real world (Lewis). If
  6. 6. Hieber6television and movies continue to show scantily clad characters, then teenage girls willcontinue to dress immodestly. The gap between what is intended for children and what isfor adults is becoming smaller. Girls as young as four are being introduced to lingerie(Dumas). There is not a single reason to explain why children need to worry aboutwearing panties that do not show underwear lines. Adult women should be concernedabout this, not young girls. Young women are growing up thinking that how their bodylooks is the only thing that matters, and in turn girls will dress to show off their figures.Society has the attitude that they want young women to be sexual. But once the youngwomen, such as Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus, act in a sexual manner and give intosociety’s views, the media and society hypocritically “condemn them immediately”(Luscombe2). It is as if society wants to see young women make mistakes and regret theirlife choices; in a way, making mistakes makes celebrities and teenage girls more normal.Society’s view on how a teenage girl and a grown woman should be acting is completelywrong. Wanting a young woman to hurry up and mature and be sexual is unhealthy. Yetwhen society then condemns a girl who has acted in a way that society seemed to havewanted, she is left confused. Unless a movement or parents can change the media andsociety’s views on what is acceptable attire and behavior for teenage girls, then girls willcontinue to dress immodestly. Young adults who want to pursue a career in the fashion industry should not feeldiscouraged because of the current immodesty in clothing. If anything, the trend towardsimmodesty would fuel a person’s desire to make a difference in the fashion industry.Teenage girl’s clothing has become more about showing off the body than trying to showpeople their personality. The fashion industry needs to have more designers creating
  7. 7. Hieber7modest clothing for teenagers. To change view points, it only takes one person, who justhas to be ambitious enough not to give up. Knowing that a young designer could make adifference in clothing styles and change the minds of the entertainment industry is apowerful thought. Anyone who is looking for a career in fashion should not bediscouraged, but encouraged to go into the field.
  8. 8. Hieber8 Works CitedAmerican Psychological Association. "Sexualization of Girls." American Psychological Association, 2007. Web. 29 Sept. 2011. < pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx>.Carney, Susan. "Sexy Fashion Trends and Teens: When Girls Want to Look Like Pop Stars." Suite101. N.p., 2 Nov. 2007. Web. 9 Sept. 2011.Dumas, Daisy. "Its entirely inappropriate: Fashion industry outraged after French label launches lingerie for girls as young as FOUR." N.p., 17 Aug. 2011. Web. 11 Sept. 2011.Gibbons, Sheila. "Teen Magazines Send Girls All the Wrong Messages." Womensenews. N.p., 29 Oct. 2003. Web. 10 Sept. 2011.Hawkes, Katie. "Media and Clothing Market Influence on Adolescent Girls: Warnings for Parents." Forever Families. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2011.Lewis, Julianne. "Immodesty vs. Humility." My.HighSchoolJournalism. N.p., 8 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 Sept. 2011.Luscombe, Belinda. "The Truth About Teen Girls." Time Magazine 11 Sept. 2008: 2. Print.Manley, Reece. "Teenage Girls Dressing Too Sexy to Fit In: Acceptance by Peers More Important than Sexuality." Suite101. N.p., 21 May 2009. Web. 9 Sept. 2011.Pidd, Helen. "I do feel pressure to look older." N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.