A Girl Twice Her Age

Have you ever noticed how much older little girls are trying to seem?
When I was 12 years old, I think that the extent of my knowledge of the human anatomy was really, really limited. I stuck to watching Lizzie McGuire (before Family channel got weird and cancelled on my TV) and thought that the only way to meet cute boys was to sneak out of the house and go to a really dim coffee house to “study”.. and for the record, Ethan Craft was not even that cute! I wore clothes from Old Navy and Wal-Mart – “Forever 21” and “H&M” was not in my fashion vocabulary.
But then you look at 12 year old girls now, and the difference is startling. Not just in the TV shows that they watch, or the clothes that they wear, but their massive knowledge of everything, their familiarity with social media, and in general, how much older they look.
The other day I was at Target picking up a box of hair dye. A rule in my house was that I was not allowed to touch my hair with colour until I graduate, and even when I did graduate, it had to be a natural colour. So while my dreams of having dark purple hair was crushed, I was still quite excited to go choose a new colour for my hair.
While I was browsing the aisles, I came across a girl, about 11 or 12 (but as mentioned above, they look way older than they should), throwing a temper tantrum. Her mom was rolling her eyes and trying not to argue, but everyone around could tell that she was upset and wanted her daughter to stop acting childish.
This girl was wearing a crop top that I had seen in Forever 21 and super short, acid wash jean shorts. They are shorts where the pockets hang out from underneath. She had over the knee socks (sheer black, of course) and was wearing a pair of Converse. The most staggering thing about her appearance was her bright red, Ariana Grande trademark hair. She was holding a box of blonde hair dye, and from the looks of her temper tantrum, it looks like Ariana Grande was not turning blonde any time soon.
Despite the fact that this girl had the ability to change her hair way, way before I did, I’m sure she also got a phone before I did (I saw that fall out of her pocket while she threw the tantrum), and on that phone she probably texts boys, Snapchats, tweets and updates her Facebook status. She probably goes to the mall with her friends and Instagrams her Starbucks and takes shameless bathroom selfies…
…All things that admittedly, I have done once or twice at my ripe old age of 18.
But it is quite scary to me, to think that girls today are growing up in this massive mess of a world. Girls are expected to look a certain way, eat certain food and be up and ready to date by 14.
Going back to the Lizzie McGuire example, I am more than certain that Lizzie and her friends were 13 during the show. Was I this boy crazy at 13? Was I allowed to go out to the mall by myself or with my friends? Could I hang out with a boy?
To all the above, the answer is no.
Nowadays, I see girls half my age ordering frappucinos and watching movies like recent release “The Fault in Our Stars”. As I walked out of the theater, very young girls (10? 9?) rushed out with their moms, drooling over Augustus Waters and asking their moms where they will find their own Augustus Waters.
Really? 
It is incorrect to ask if these girls understand the context of the movie and what is happening, because chances are, they do. Due to social media and Internet being so widely used and easily accessed, information can be found everywhere. If (spoiler alert) I saw that scene of Hazel and Gus rushing into the room at 10 years old, I would have thought that they were just having an innocent, co-ed slumber party. But at 18, we all know what is really happening. The unfortunate thing is that girls as young as 10 probably have the same understanding of the scene as I do now, and I am nearly double their age.
Furthermore, if girls have the same knowledge and understanding of something so mature, then that also means that they are vulnerable to more mature thoughts as opposed to carefree thoughts. I started really caring about how I looked when I entered high school, and looking back on old photos, I cringe at how I looked and what I wore. But young girls today are constantly bombarded with lingerie ads with skinny models, and in turn, 13 year-olds try to strive for the unattainable excellence of a Photoshopped body. Girls are starting to develop at younger ages, and more young girls are starting to have depression, anxiety, OCD and anorexia and bulimia.
These girls are aging faster than their time!
It scares me that young girls (my younger sisters included) are learning more and more about the world than they should at certain ages and not fully understanding what it all means. I am worried that my sisters and their friends are too consumed by what society wants then what they want. I am worried that in time to come, “childhood innocence” will cease to exist.
Take care of your daughters and sisters. Expose them to the sunshine and the world beyond the computer screen. Instead of Tumblr sunsets, offer them a real one. Let them know that there is a Prince Charming out there, but you will not find him on Facebook (because that’s creepy). Show them that their body is enough, and it is pretty amazing regardless of shape. Remind them that they are loved, regardless of how much they now and what mistakes they have made.
I hope that the solution to this rising pandemic is to unplug and spending quality time with one another. 
So turn off your phones and relax. Talk in person, love the young girls in your life and spill ink while you do.
x R

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A Vancouver-based writer who won't let her height get in the way of her dreams! Lover of God, good food, coffee & beer, corgis, and exploring with family & friends. Producer & host of Y57 Media on Vancouver Co-op Radio, CFRO 100.5 FM and a weekly contributor for Curiocity Vancouver.

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