vanessa hudgens It is appalling — yet not surprising at all — that middle and high school girls are sending nude pictures of themselves to their boyfriends. What I wonder is: Who started this trend? Was it Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical)? Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana)? Is it simply a product of technological advances and exhibitionism, as a recent CNN article proposes? Or is it a combination of the two? I’m thinking it’s a combination, supplemented by the fact that girls and women are continually sexualized in today’s media culture and feel that their worth is based on how sexy they are or can be.

Though the show Sex and the City is controversial amongst people who fight for gender equity, I keep thinking about the episode “Hot Child In The City,” in which the character Samantha plans a Bat Mitzvah for an uber-wealthy, Upper East Side girl, Jenny Brier. The girl tries to act “grown-up” by buying Samantha and her friends $100 bottles of alcohol, dressing in tight, high-end clothes, and (this is the appalling part) talking about all the boys she’s either been with or pleasured with oral sex. Samantha, who is at first very envious of Jenny’s fortunes, later realizes that the one thing she had that Jenny Brier and her friends don’t have is a childhood.

And that is the end result of the oversexualization frenzy we are in — the loss of childhood and innocence. There isn’t anything wrong with expressing your sexual desires or feeling sexy, but who and what contributes to healthy sexuality is really in question, as well as the extent to which sexiness defines our self-worth. Girls learn from an early age what is desirable and “hot.” They also learn that “sexiness” is a source of power. Therefore, they become defined — and maybe even define themselves — by it. Generations before the past few had less media exposure and a chance to define their sexuality on their own and probably at a later age.

What do you think about the article? About this latest “trend”? What can we do to stop it? Please share your thoughts with us below.

-A.J.