The in the article. ‘Sassy, sexy and smart’

The chosen article reflects how popular culture and post
feminism encourage girls to feel more confident within themselves and to form
an identity away from the traditional stereotypes and ideologies. The article
also discusses problems that young girls have and how many aspects of what they
see on the media are contradictory and injects a more negative side of the
female portrayal, although, post-feminism is trying to reduce the negative
impact that this may have.   


Girl power, a reference to an attitude of independence,
confidence, and empowerment among young women, has become of such a huge
standing inspiration within contemporary society, encouraging girls to break
free from the traditional stereotype. Within the article it highlights how girl
power not only encourages young girls but it also presents a form of feminism
that corresponds with this popular culture. This is also highlighted in the
article titled ‘Girl power and “selfie humanitarianism”‘ where it states “‘girl
power’ is not a singular phenomenon but sits at the intersection of a
proliferation of competing discourses, many of which are connected to postfeminist
culture” (Gill 2007), this portrays that the implication of girl power is not
just empowering young girls but it actually forms a bridge in order for the
young girls to develop further within this post feminism culture. Girl power is
not only relevant to young, developing girls, but also to girls within the
adolescent period seeking a female identity, as stated in the article. ‘Sassy,
sexy and smart’ seem to be a recurring theme and phrase in relation to the
articles portrayal of girl power, invoking that this is what every girl should
aspire to be and therefore postfeminist culture is what every girl should be
part of. However, this is not portrayed as such in the media; in magazines
girls are either portrayed as smart or as being sexy, there is very few
portrayals of both which shows that this idealistic dream is depicted as almost
impossible to achieve.

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Media in itself is contradictory, portraying music videos of
girls wearing barely anything (expressing a sense of positive body confidence) and
then other forms of media using this to brand them negatively as a ‘tart’ or ‘slut’.

This shows conflicting images of how girls should look and behave without either
not keeping up with the trends, or not behaving how a girl should. There is
clearly no agreement between the types of media in the portrayal of idealistic
females, one making something completely acceptable and the other turning it
into a taboo. Popular culture is such a significant part of adolescent years
and it provides a lot of female positivity, but where is the line drawn when
music videos contain almost-naked women, ‘accompanied by acts of sexual stimulation,
self-touching, sexual poses, etc.’? Furthermore, having female figures being publicly
‘slut-shamed’ doesn’t stop girls from dressing in a similar fashion. In fact,
they begin to rebel against this label and wear these provocative items of
clothing more, for the shock effect, which serves to form their own identity.  How does society expect young girls to react
given that they are fed one thing through popular culture and then the polar
opposite through the media? This links in with Dr Papadopoulos’s theory of
identity and how girls are so oversexualised within the media, that forming
their own individual identity becomes harder leading many girls to start acting
and dressing the same.


The article also picked up on pre-teen fashion in which
children now have access to adult-like ‘sexy’ clothing including G-strings and
bras. The Guardian picked up on how many retailers still sell over-sexualised
clothing to children, in which one significant revelation involved Primark
selling padded bikini tops to children as young as seven, this caused
high-ranking political figures to get involved to campaign the removal of such
an inappropriate piece of clothing. This links in with Dr Papadopoulos study on
‘sexualisation of young people’ in which she discusses how young girls now want
to look ‘hot’, meaning this social pressure encourages girls to want to wear
padded bras/bikinis at such a young age.


By looking at young girls as collective beings it is hard to
then look at why some girls do not follow these sexualised trends. This is
where research into this subject could be developed. What factors cause a girl
not to want to look like the females on the ‘raunchy’ music videos, and why don’t
they want to wear short skirts or crop tops? It is hard to see this topic in a
wider setting when there are gaps in the research. Some girls conform to this
social pressure and yet some girls actively ignore it, the ultimate question
being why? Although, understandably, this topic in itself would be difficult in
approaching as the sample size would need to be fairly big in order for it to
be representative among teenage girls, especially when looking for the anomalies.


In conclusion, it is clear that girls are still
oversexualised in this popular culture and there is still a lot of uncertainty
and taboo with girls feeling pressured to express a more sexualised identity, although
this is not surprising. Postman studied the disappearance of childhood and saw
how children were being lured into partaking in “adult” activities such as
underage drinking, sex and smoking. Postman said that it was hard to comment on
these effects on children when as a society the term “childhood” is so
inconsistent and ambiguous and one would have to revaluate the term of
childhood first before we could comment on what was appropriate or not.


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