This desire to dress up is learned from parents, older siblings, friends, toys, magazines, books, computer games, apps, social media platforms, Disney characters, parent-approved celebrities, parent-disapproved celebrities, pop music, shopping malls, advertisements, billboards and more.
For decades, Disney has been raising girls on cartoon princesses of effortless beauty, impossible proportions and a penchant for crowns and mirrors. As girls grow up, they graduate from those cartoon movies to shows like Miley Cyrus’s seminal , a reality series on Disney-owned ABC that pairs a modern-day prince with a parade of interchangeable Miss America lookalikes who are sexually attractive but not sexual, educated but not overtly intelligent.“The TV tweens are watching is getting racier,” says Jane Buckingham, founder and chief executive officer of Trendera, a consulting firm with expertise on younger generations.
Cat’s mom walks in with Madison’s younger sister, Emma.“So we can um, talk about something else? She looks around the room with the awe of someone just granted a backstage pass to a concert she wasn’t allowed to attend in the first place. And they know what they’re called, and they know how to do it. At one point, Madison stands up and shouts at me, “We promise we’ll let you in on all the info.”And then, to her sister: “Emma, it’s sixth-grade stuff.
They realize it, too, and quickly migrate to the other side of the playroom, where they practice handstands and check themselves out in the mirror.
Each day, she is exposed to eight to 12 hours of media, depending on her age, that hones her understanding of how she is supposed to act.
She spends a significant portion of her day plugged in – communicating, posting photos, playing games, surfing the web, watching videos and socializing.
She has an innocent face and wears a pink fleece jacket and dangly star earrings.“Me neither! The only girl who doesn’t answer is Cat, a bubbly, plump 11-year-old who has a boyfriend but won’t admit it, so Brianna shouts, “Cat dates Andy! “Boys look for boobs.”“No they don’t,” Brianna says. When I met Brianna, Sarah, Cat and Madison in 2009, social media had not yet infiltrated tweendom; Instagram didn’t exist, nor did Snapchat and Vine.