How Black Girls are Affected by Hypersexualization Within Their Household

Aja Tambedou, Staff Writer

“You ain’t grown.”

“Red nail polish is for hookers and prostitutes.”

“Where you think you’re going in that, tryna be all fast.”
“Dye your hair cause your friend did? If your lil’ friend jumped off a bridge would you jump?”
“Take them earrings out; I ain’t raise no skank.”
These are phrases that nearly every black girl has heard from their mothers and grandmothers from their early childhood through adolescence. As little girls, they can’t argue because, as their mother would say, “I ain’t one of your lil’ friends” and definitely “I ain’t the one nor the two to be playin’ with.”
Hypersexualization, to treat or depict something that generally does not have a sexual character as a sexual object, is a pressing issue in the black community. Black women are objectified and sexualized–not only in the media but within the black community and their respective families. Black culture has strict stipulations for the way black girls should be raised and should present themselves; one in which appearing “grown” is seen as unacceptable. Aliya S. King, an award-winning journalist and author, opposes this concept, something she examines in her article, “People Say My Daughter Is ‘Too Grown.’ I Think That Idea Is Detrimental to Black Girls—and Boys.” King finds that this idea, “of being ‘grown’ is a toxic ideology passed down through generations in our [black] culture.”
Far too many young black girls have received comments or indirect expressions regarding their appearance from female figures in their life. These expressions may come in the form of side-eyes and bickering from women at church, being dress-coded in school, or an unsolicited “I know you gon’ be a problem” from a stranger; but the comments from a mother are the most impactful upon black daughters. This disregard of black daughters’ feelings for the sake of accommodating men is apparent in many households. It often comes as being told that you need to cover yourself due to the presence of men. This concept that the child has to dress conservatively around grown men demonstrates black mothers’ blatant gender bias towards men and over-sexualization of their child’s body. Daughters feeling sexualized in the comfort of their own home and seeing their mother’s exhibition of favoritism towards men stirs discomfort and the urge to isolate themselves.
Black mothers need to reflect upon and change how they allow the media’s sexualization of their daughters to dictate their parenting and overly focused attention to their daughter’s appearance. The disregard of the wish of black daughters to present themselves how they please to abide by the stipulations of this biased ideology demonstrates negligence. In the midst of attempting to enforce an age-old concept, parents fail to recognize that the issue is not their child’s appearance; it is the connotation black culture and social media has created around it.
Being a target for over-sexualization in the media is one issue, but feeling violated by those who raised you–those who are supposed to shelter you from the harms of this reality–deteriorates the trust and safety you feel in that relationship.