Before They Are Ready

At Slow Food NU we try to stress that food is in fact tied to many social justice issues facing society today. However, we cannot tell you this over and over and expect you to believe us. So, this entry is dedicated to just one issue that is influenced by the food we eat, the sexualization of young girls.

So how are food and the sexualization of young girls linked?  Well, some doctors believe that there has been an increase in precocious puberty, hitting puberty at an early age, since the early 1990’s. What could be causing this? At first it was thought that it was from the steroids given to animals, that we then consume, that caused this early development. Further research has not particularly supported this theory. However, there is evidence of insecticides in our food that break down when ingested into chemicals similar to estrogen. The increase in estrogen signals the body to begin puberty. But the most supported claim is that of the increasing obesity rates in children. Doctors say that puberty is signaled by a certain weight and fat distribution in the body. For males this happens anywhere from age 11-17 and for females generally age 9-15. So, when a 7-year-old overweight female has the same weight and fat distribution of a 12-year-old female, her body is more likely to start the puberty process.

Now, let’s discuss the implications of early puberty for females. As young females start developing breasts and hips we start to perceive them as being older and 7 year-olds are not mentally ready for that objectification. This can cause early sexual behavior, which leads to an increase in unplanned pregnancies and STDs since the participators may not have reached the age of safe sex education. Those who develop early are at a higher risk for being victims of bullying because their curves don’t fit the ideal thin image. These issues could develop into eating disorders and issues with self-worth.

Then we wonder why places like Abercrombie are marketing push up bikinis to young girls. It’s because the food they eat is turning their bodies into those of young women before they are ready.

Perhaps if we changed the way we fed our children. If we fed them the right portions of fresh, whole foods we may help stop the perpetuation of sexualizing young women, by stopping them from becoming young women before they are ready.

What other unassuming social justice issues can you think of that stem from our current food system??

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