Too Soon

I ran into a girl my son went to primary school with yesterday. A 13 year old girl up at the shops at 8PM dressed up like an 18 year old. Hanging out with a group of boys who actually were 17 or 18.  I am sorry to say I know one of them quite well. It is a fairly safe bet that he will not be a future captain of industry. She was embarrassed to see me because  she was smoking, but more than that and I apologise for being slightly crude here, but the phrase I’m about to use is the only one that fits, her tits were hanging out.

She had on an extremely low cut top and what looked like a push up bra. She was also wearing a come hither look which I think she thought made her look alluring and wordly, but actually succeeded in making her look younger than she is. The whole thing was quite distasteful to me and could have been a scene plucked from Nabokov’s Lolita.

I’m not naive. I know what goes on with many young girls when they are barely into their teens, but she was quite blatantly putting it about a bit (as my Aunt Jo used to say) and it freaked me out because she is only thirteen years old and no matter how cool and with it she thinks she is, she really has no idea what she’s doing.

Or what could happen as a result of what she’s doing.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the over-sexualisation of the younger generation, particularly girls, and maybe I’m more of an old fuddy-duddy than I thought, but it really bothers me.

Where have we missed the bit where we teach our young women pride in themselves and in their bodies and arm them with the self-assurance that they don’t need to create an illusion of heightened sexuality in order to attract a young man? And that it’s really not a good thing to engage in sexually suggestive behaviour at too young an age?

This particular girl was a good friend of Nick’s for many years. She giggled a lot and liked unicorns. That’s what I remember most about her. She sparkled.

But when I saw her at the shops the sparkles were gone.

It upset me quite a lot and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her. She was such a cute little girl. So cute. And now she’s hanging out with boys who are too old for her and will more than likely pressure her into having sex too soon because they really, really love her.

And she will believe them.

If I had any advice at all to give to a young woman dealing with her burgeoning adolescence it would be this – give it time. You have all the time in the world to factor sex into the equation.

I wish I could have told her that she is worth so much more than hanging out on corners with bad boys. I wish I could have told her that the girl who loved unicorns is still in there somewhere.

But she looked at me, took a drag on her cigarette, blowing the smoke in my direction; and I knew she wasn’t interested in anything I had to say.

Sometimes I wish I walked with blinkers on.

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30 thoughts on “Too Soon

  1. It’s such a hard thing growing up, I wish we could take all our kids aside and give them the self assurance to have confidence in who they are…
    I hope she finds her way…

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  2. Your anecdote is just so sad Selma, it just makes me upset to think about the life mistakes that this girl is almost sure to make and it makes me angry. What sort of direction has this girl’s parents given her that she should be acting like this?

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  3. Oh boy. I know EXACTLY what you are talking about.

    Whenever I drop my 13 year old son off at ‘The Mall’ or ‘The Movies’, I am always FREAKING out about him running into – or worse, HANGING OUT WITH – 13 year old girls that dress and act that way. But then I remember girls who behave ‘that way’ are NOT usually interested in 13 year old boys, but frequently prefer to hang out with older [sometimes MUCH OLDER] boys.

    Now, I am NOT saying my child wears a halo.
    Not even a little.
    I’ve had my fair share of battles with HIM over what IS and what is NOT acceptable 13 year old behavior, including [but not limited to] clothing.

    But, I am AMAZED, and HORRIFIED by the way some of these little girls dress these days.

    I DO believe some of that stems from the over-sexualisation of the younger generation – and how the power of media has desensitized our children .

    I am going to click and read every single link you posted about the subject because I want all the information I can get may hands on.

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  4. It’s sad. That’s all I can say. Because 13 is to young to say “They sure grow up quick” This is not maturing…it’s.. well we know what this is. I’m sorry to read about the wonderful memory you had of this girl being destroyed. Maybe, one day she will ask you for some advice and I’m sure she will get the best. Great post.

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  5. Hi NAT:
    It really is hard, isn’t it? And it doesn’t seem to get any easier. I think the hardest thing as a teen is having the courage to be yourself and not caving into peer pressure. I just couldn’t go through the whole thing again. It would be too much for me.

    Hi IAIN:
    I suspect her mother doesn’t even know what she’s up to because I know she wouldn’t agree with that kind of behaviour. I am thinking about ringing her because one of the boys in the group really is a bad egg. I don’t want to be interfering or to cause unnecessary friction, but it is preying on my mind a bit.

    Hi MELEAH:
    My son is no angel, either, but like JCH he does understand limits. It worries me seeing those girls walking around like that. It’s not just 18 year old boys they have to worry about. What about 45 year old men? Scary stuff.

    Hi PUNATIK:
    I think the whole thing has bothered me because it’s such a sharp contrast from who she used to be. How did that happen? I am perplexed. I really hope there is someone in her life she can talk to who can give her a bit of guidance.

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  6. Young girls are usually very naive. They are old enough physically to have sex but don’t have the emotional maturity, often having sex when they don’t really want to – to impress the boy or so he’ll love her. They have no idea of the way young men or boys are thinking – mainly about the sex bit and not the love bit. Sex education needs to deal with these ’emotional’ issues but rarely does. Locking them up till the age of 18 won’t work either, unfortunately.

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  7. When I was 13, and we tried anything vaguely adult, one of teachers could be counted on to say ‘There’s plenty of time for that when you’ve passed all your exams!’

    (Got news for you, Curly! I passed my last exam at the age of 42!)

    Of course, in those days, you could be pretty sure your parents would hear about it from one source or another … but nowadays?

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  8. Further to my last … I wonder if peer pressure might be the answer. I just remembered my 14 year old grand-daughter once saying ‘I don’t hang out with Caitlin any more; she’s turned into a right little slapper!’

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  9. Hi GABRIELLE:
    I agree with you totally about the sex education. It is such a bewildering time for them. They really need to get a handle on the emotional side of things. I remember feeling a bit lost myself at that age. It can be so hard.

    Hi TRAVELRAT:
    And I hope you really did wait until you were 42 and had passed all of your exams 😆

    In some ways I miss that old gossipy community thing. It was harder to get away with things.

    I think peer pressure is definitely the culprit. Nick has mentioned it too. I wonder why some girls succumb to it while others don’t…

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  10. You know, my first instinct is to ask what on earth their parents are doing to turn such a blind eye. Then I remember how I was as a teen…not that young, though. I was always rebelious, but…I was more of a tomboy at that age. More into beating the boys at sports than eliciting their sexual advances. Actually, I would have likely knocked them out had they even suggested such a thing! 🙂

    I don’t know. I really do believe it stems – to some degree – from whether or not their moms – in particular – offer good examples to model, and both parents instill in them a deep sense of security and self. That can begin pretty much at birth, really.

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  11. I suspect that some of this problem can be attributed to some of the toys that are offered to girls and the message that they send about how to be in our modern world . I am thinking about ‘bratz” dolls and the others of their ilk. these dolls send the message that a girls worth is validated by being sexually provocative and I don’t think that this is a good thing, especially for the prepubescent age cohort that the dolls are aimed at.

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  12. Hi STEPH:
    I agree with you completely. This Mum in particular is a lovely lady, but she has a different boyfriend every time I see her. I guess her daughter is just doing what she sees her Mum doing. It’s such a shame because both of them are really great people. Very artistic, very community minded. I got to know her Mum quite well when we did some volunteer work together a few years back. Even then her personal life was in disarray even though she was very career oriented. Sometimes that’s just the way it is.

    Hi IAIN:
    I remember when those Bratz dolls came out and some of the little girls I knew started dressing accordingly. They are just part of a pop culture over-saturated with sex. There is so much to contend with. They and others make Barbie dolls look like they came from a convent. What a world, eh?

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  13. That’s scary. When I watched the movie 13; it was scary. I remember thinking that I have two 13 year old girl cousins and didn’t want them to even think of doing anything similar! Turns out that I was worried over nothing but they did give me a scare when they turned 20 and asked me about drinking coolers and I panicked.

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  14. It’s really too bad that girls think they have to become something they’re not to gain acceptance. The lucky ones know, or eventually learn, that there are many more rewards to be had when they stay true to themselves.

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  15. Hi ROSHAN:
    It is worrying, isn’t it? At least your cousins made it to 20 before they considered drinking. That is impressive!

    Hi JENNIFER:
    I guess it all comes down to having the self-confidence (and self-worth) to believe in themselves. It’s difficult because I know many adults – myself included – who still struggle with those issues.

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  16. I want to tell every young girl I see similar to the one you mentioned here what I know now that I didn’t know then, when I was around the same age. I was reading something somewhere recently that in the 18th century in Australia, the age of consent for girls was 10 – uggh, that is way too young and thank heavens it is not still the case.

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  17. I’ve always hated secrets and when I was a teenager I hated adult secrets. Sex is an adult secret. I WAS that 13 yr old girl and it was NOT about me being powerless or sad. It was about me taking control- I was out to learn the secrets. Selma- if I told you the things I did your hair would go grey. BUT the strong survive – no matter what. The weak won’t, even if you keep them in reinforced cement and platinum chastity belts.

    I don’t know. I often feel like we undermine kids so much. Don’t we remember? We knew there were diseases (herpes for me, AIDS for her) we were not fools. Sure we got pressured to have sex- WTF- I still get pressured to have sex and I’ve been married FOREVER ( or does it just seem that way today??). Sure insecurity plays a role- when doesn’t it? Have you outgrown it? Have any of us?

    Life is one thing you can ONLY learn on the job. Sorry.

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  18. I think that there is a lot of peer pressure on young girls to be women, and that as time goes by, the age seems to drop. The media does desensitize the sexuality of teenage girls, but I think that the environment that they grow up in counts for a lot. If they have a healthy family environment, and older cousins/friends who are not “slappers” then it should help. Society (in general) has a double standard when it comes to girls and boys – and men and women too. Why else would a promiscuous woman be called a slut and a promiscuous man be called a stud?

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  19. Hi ROWE:
    You are KIDDING ME!!! OMG, that is awful. I really had no idea. I wonder if that was true in other parts of the world too. No one is ready for that kind of thing at ten years of age. Good grief!

    Hi LAURI:
    If you felt that you were in control then that makes all the difference. I suspect many other girls the same age would not feel in control, however. I think the strong survive too but I would rather they didn’t have to frequently feel anxious, disenchanted or out of their depth in order to get to that point of having survived. Of course, we all learn this life of ours on the job. I’m just not a fan of the ‘getting thrown in the deep end method.’

    I agree with you that insecurity plays a role in much of our decision-making even well into adulthood. Dealing with it is probably one of the greatest challenges we face as a human being. I think I am on the verge of outgrowing most of my insecurities because I feel comfortable with myself but that has only happened recently. Aaah, Life, why must you be so complex?

    Hi MANOJ:
    The double standard is definitely there. And the peer pressure. But you’re right – family environment can make a difference.

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  20. I just picked up a book called (I kid you not) “Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like A Skank, and other words of delicate southern wisdom” by Celia Rivenbark. It is NOT something a typical LDS couple would read, but Redbeard and I have loved every single word, because she is REAL. My point is, it happens much earlier than 13.

    Happily, my just-turned-thirteen yr. old would DIE in something like that, and has no desire at all to smoke. She still draws her fairy pictures, has ONE best friend, and has a crush on a 13 yr. old boy but would never, EVER tell him. And that boy (I taught him in my writing class) would DIE if he ever knew. Somewhere in the world, some of us enjoy a little sanity. I wish your young lady did – I’m sure whatever squashed her unicorns happened long before you saw her. The happy news is, someday she’ll resurrect that part of her, if she wants to.

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  21. We live in a crazy world, one in which people design and sell Hooters T-shirts for baby girls and ramble on about how Jennifer Aniston is getting fat. With all the shit coming at our young girls about their bodies, they need strong support and lessons about healthy self-esteem from the time they come out of the womb. I can only hope nothing bad happens to the girl you wrote about. It’s incredibly sad to me that children can dress themselves up like adults, yet have absolutely no idea how to conduct themselves in an adult world.

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  22. The Bratz dolls have been discontinued, but not because of concern for their impact on little girls. The designer who came up with the idea and made a fortune was still working for Mattel when he did so. Mattel successfullt sued him over the copyright of Bratz and then pulled it due to the competition with their Barbie and Princess ranges. So we’re back to Barbie.

    Also, there was a disturbing news report this week of a pregnant 9 year old girl in China who had to have a caesarean because obviously her body is nowhere near ready for any of that.

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  23. Hi TEX:
    I had no idea it could happen so early. Not having a daughter I am so out of the loop. I like the picture you paint of your 13 year old daughter and how she likes a boy but would die rather than tell him and that he would die if he knew. I like the innocence of that. It is something worth holding on to.

    Hi KATE:
    OMG. Hooters T-shirts for baby girls? That is insane. And if Jennifer Aniston is fat I must be obese. I hope nothing bad happens to the girl I know, either. That would be too sad.

    Hi DAOINE:
    I don’t mind Barbie. I think she’s quite glam and in some ways the feminist movement has passed her by (ha ha) but she is OK in my book. I played with a lot of Barbies when I was a kid. I still have one of the ’60s Barbies with geometric mini dress and knee hi boots. She is so cool. I had great fun playing with her.

    I am in shock over that Chinese girl. What the??? That is madness.

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  24. Paula is 11, and already there are girls she went to school with who are on their way to becoming what you just saw. There are girls pretending to have sex on websites that are supposed to be for kids. There are girls giving lap dances on sleepovers. The other day someone yelled “thunder beads” in a school hallway and Paula asked me what it meant. The whole thing saddens and scares me a bit.

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  25. Hi INGRID:
    That shocks me. I really don’t like it at all. Maybe I’m just an old square but I really do think it’s inappropriate at that age. What is the world coming to, Ingrid? Good grief.

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  26. I don’t mind Barbie either. Mine was the main character in a lot of wildly imaginative adventure stories, and not a prince in sight to “rescue” her.

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  27. Hi INGRID:
    Oh, absolutely.

    Hi DAOINE:
    I used to do that too. My favourite game was making togas from teas towels and playing Ancient Rome with all my Barbies. I think I called her Barbius Maximus. I was a weird child 😆

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  28. (Ahem!)

    Hate to be so schoolmasterly and pedantic, but that should be ‘Barbia Maxima’ (feminine) … and I think your version translates as ‘big beard!!!

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  29. Hi TRAVELRAT:
    You crack me up. There I was all that time thinking I was so witty and clever and I was carrying out my adventures with good old Big Beard. LOLZ!

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