It's no surprise that young women are sexualized in the media from an alarmingly young age, but one thing I do find interesting is HOW we sexualize youth. An article from Salon.com tackled this topic today, after some (more) controversy over Miley Cyrus.
Miley Cyrus: Too Young for Hooker Boots? http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/07/09/miley/index.html
"The outrage has so little to do with her being sexualized and everything to do with the way she's being sexualized. We're all too happy to see her clad in a girly frock and schoolgirl socks -- however, black thigh-high boots, and a black pushup bra? Horrors, that's a child! But in both cases she's an eroticized 16-year-old celebrity who has been very successfully marketed and sold to the masses. It's the straightforwardness of the sexual imagery in the Elle photos that trips our cultural inappropriateness alarm. Instead of sexualizing her childlike innocence and naiveté, it pictures her as a sexually motivated and experienced teenager (similar to the apparently outrageous bedsheet photo). Miley has crossed that fine cultural line between sexy purity and sexiness that is actually sexual."
"My first reaction to the photos wasn't horror or outrage, I simply thought: I hope she's ready for what the world has in store for her. After all, the special word so often reserved for the accidentally sexy schoolgirl who starts actively and boldly embracing her sexuality? Slut."