Sales describes to the readers what initially sparked some of her interest in researching this topic. She recounts her experience on the app Yik Yak, where users can anonymously post and view “yaks” in 10 mile radius, where she heard about “Syracusesnap”. This was a vulgar snap chat story from Syracuse college that contained numerous photos and videos of naked girls, students doing a multitude of drugs, drinking, and violence. She then began to describe the “Silicon Valley fraternity” of young guys creating these social media apps that often end up promoting sex and the idea of being “hot or not” from a young age and the extreme sexism rampant among these companies. The “hot or not” mindset of viewing women has definitely created many issues for women, especially, Sales argues, because of the easy access at a young age to pornography wither accidental or on purpose. Young girls and boys viewing these often violent and disrespectful deceptions of sex has an extremely damaging affect on them as these acts become normalized. And the affects this also begins to have as girls begin to learn about feminism, and as many female celebrities refuse to call themselves a feminist because of the negative connotation it had developed. Chapter 1, describing the encounters of 13 year old girls with boys and social media, begins with Sophia getting a DM( direct message on Instagram) from a boy she barley knew asking for “noodz”. Sales continues to explain the struggles Sophia and her friends dealt with as her friend Riley is called a “slut” and “whore” after her boyfriend broke up with her a began a rumor saying she gave him a blowjob. The girls give insight to how apps like Snapchat and Instagram have affected how they see themselves as they try to perfect themselves as they compare their feeds and bodies to celebrities, models, and even their peers. They even admit to constantly using Photoshop to make themselves appear better in photos they post. Sales also argues about parents constant sharing of their children’s lives on social media and the way it makes children “preform” to get the constant attention on social media as they begin to have their own accounts. Also the affect of people like the Kardashians that are famous for being themselves. Sales claims that they also negatively impact girls self esteem as they grow up, and places the idea into their head that they need to pose and act sexy to get more likes and comments and to be perceived as attractive. Then in Chapter 2, now with 14 year old girls, Sales begins to also unearth the relationship girls begin to have have with each other as a result of this over sexualized culture for young children. She tells the story of Edie and how she lost all her friends when her friend Savannah basically ditched her to become “cool”and how she had been deemed the ugliest girl at her school because she was not white but was not the “right type” of black girl. Sales even talked to a youtube beauty guru, Amanda Steele, about how she started her social media career and the hate comments she would get because of her age, she started when she was 10. Sales also contemplates the threat social media can present with older predators trying to get girls to send nude or semi nude pictures, or even meet up with them to have sex.
Sales uses and defines numerous terms used daily in most teenagers today that are almost shocking and humorous to read in a educational book, especially since these are terms I’m very familiar hearing in a much more casual conversation with my peers, which is why I chose these words.
Fuckboy(n)- used basically to describe a male whore, or player. But more specifically, Sales describes them as using social media, only, to talk to the girls they’re after. pg 34
Savage(adj)– often used as a way to describe “fuckboys”, it means a boy who is extremely sexual and is often annoying or gross about it. pg 35
Viners(n)– a person who becomes famous or well known on social media because of their videos on the app Vine which plays 6 second videos on loop. pg 117
Aesthetic(adj)– often used to describe someones Instagram feed, it means that something is attractive or eye-catching. pg 114
Sharenting(v)- created by researchers at the University of Michigan, it is the action of a parent oversharing everything about their child’s life and how they parent them. pg 32
“All of them said they had Photoshopped their pictures and edited them with special filters and apps- especially their selfies. “I’ve darkened my lips and made my eyebrows on fleek,” meaning on point, Sophia said. “I never post the first selfie I take. Sometimes it takes like seventy tries. Every time I post a selfie,” she went on, “I need to check who’s commenting-like, Oh my God, I’m getting so many comments. People are like ‘Oh my God gorgeous,’ and you feel good about yourself. I’m so happy when I get likes. We’re all obsessed with how many likes we get. Everyone says, I get no likes, but everyone says that even if they get likes-it never feels like enough. I feel like I’m brainwashed into wanting likes.” pg 62
“Watching Mota’s video with Jasmine brought home to me that, for girls who are poor, the omnipresence of images on social media stressing the importance of “beauty” had a whole other layer, an added set of pressures. Beauty costs money. When Jasmine compared herself with Mota, and Mota’s ability to “flawlessly” execute some look, she was not only challenged to wonder how she might measure up physically, but also reminded the difficulty she might have purchasing the things she needed to pull the look off. …Mota’s “cute” persona read culturally, for Jasmine, as “not ghetto,” and therefore in some way aspirational. Jasmine wanted to be like her. But when she couldn’t be like her-when she couldn’t her hair like hers, for example, because it was “too thick”- it was another reminder for her of a racist discourse which says that girls of color are “too” this or “not enough” that physically” pg 97
As shown with the first passage, girls, especially, have become obsessed with social media and have begun placing their self-worth on how many “likes” they get or how many people comment compliments on their selfies. This common theme in the book reminds me of a documentary I watched, Sexy Baby(more information on my homepage) which follows the lives of three different women. One of them being 12 year old Winnifred who, as the documentary progresses, begins to consume herself with social media and balancing “looking sexy” for guys in the pictures she posts so she gets more likes and comments, and being “sluty”. In this document and this book people have the chance to see inside these girls minds as they discover the freedom they find online and they consequences they face when they abuse that power. And just like this book, Sexy Baby, argues that social media and the increased accessibility to pornography has lead to the sexualization of girls, at alarmingly younger ages. They both explore the repercussions this has caused in just the past couple of years as these girls turn to teenagers and then women. And it isn’t good. As these girls define themselves and their self-esteem on the popularity of their online personas they become dependent on boys attention to feel good about themselves leading to more girls sending nude pictures of themselves and have sex at young ages.