The other day I was downtown and noticed some skinny girls visiting Millennium Park with their families. Not women—girls. Say, 12 years old. Long, skinny legs, skinny arms, skinny waist.
Me, I was a scrawny kid. Not one of those gangly long-legged skinny kids, but short and skinny. A lot of kids are just naturally built like beanpoles.
What struck me is that the build of a 12-year-old skinny girl who hasn't quite launched into puberty is the very body type that the fashion industry promotes. Add three years to this girl, let her grow taller but not rounder, and she becomes the ideal model.
So really, that ideal isn't just about emphasizing thinness. That thinness evokes images of reed-thin 12-year-old girls, doesn't it? It's not exactly the sexualization of childhood, but it's definitely the sexualization or fetishizing of a childlike physique.