Tom Hanks - “Toddlers & Tiaras”

March 1, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

“Look at this.” I was on the train to work, and a colleague in the Education department was tapping his finger on this picture on the front page of the New York Times “Styles” section.

The Times had printed the picture so large that it did not completely fit above the fold.

The article was not about the sexualization of pre-teen girls. It was about kids who are fashion designers. Still, as my colleague pointed out, this 11-year-old seems to be going for a look that is far from kid innocence.

How do we respond to the sexualization of children, especially girls? It seems like a particularly American idea, though I’m not familiar enough with other cultures to know. Do other countries have beauty pageants for girls who still count their ages in single digits?

“Little Miss Sunshine” was one response, though it seems more a satire of the American success ethic than of kiddie beauty contests (my post on it is here). Those contests seem like parodies or satires of themselves. But in case not, here’s Tom Hanks (on Jimmy Kimmel’s show Sunday night after the Oscars) with his home movie.

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