The girls wear Uggs and Juicy Couture sweatshirts and are discussing boys, Lady Gaga and blow jobs. ” Keep up with this story and more “Wait, you guys – what’s going on at school? ” asks Madison, then 11, who had recently left the local middle school for a private school. The result terrifies many adults: American women, age tween. Tweens range in age from 10 to 12 years or 8 to 14 years, depending on whom you ask. The nickname “tween” references a vaguely defined life stage (somewhere between childhood and adolescence) but it also delineates a dynamic marketing niche.

She has long blond hair, arched eyebrows and a gigantic smile.“I’m not dating anyone right now,” says Sarah, 11, who lives across the street and says she wants to be an interior designer. After practicing their supermodel walks and screeching comments like “Rearrrrr! ” they discuss what sexy means.“When you’re sexy, it means you show off your body,” says Madison, who wants to be either an archaeologist or a Victoria’s Secret model. At the same time, the word has become so common that it allows many adults to distance themselves from this radical transformation in the sexualization of young girls, as if it were just another life stage. For the last few years, I have been following this stunning transformation, talking with girls, parents and experts.

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Frank Biro, director of research, adolescent and transition medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, whose 2013 study linked early-onset puberty with obesity.“Kids seem to be developing earlier and getting more sexually focused earlier,” says Daley.

“They are sexually active a lot earlier, too; as early as 12 or 13 is not so unusual, whereas before, I’d say about 10 years ago, it used to be really unusual.”In our media-saturated world, this sexualization seems unstoppable, and for many of the people involved – marketers, image makers, entertainers and corporations – desirable.“We Crack Up, Booty Poppin’...

”“I was talking to my mother earlier today about Ruby, and she was basically like, nun-ify her.

Put her in a habit,” Marcelle Karp, 49, says about her 13-year-old daughter.

We are talking in their cozy two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.

A homemade menorah sits on a wood table in the living room, which seems to be the only room not painted a vibrant color (Ruby’s is pink; the entrance neon green).

She has an innocent face and wears a pink fleece jacket and dangly star earrings.“Me neither! The only girl who doesn’t answer is Cat, a bubbly, plump 11-year-old who has a boyfriend but won’t admit it, so Brianna shouts, “Cat dates Andy! “Boys look for boobs.”“No they don’t,” Brianna says. When I met Brianna, Sarah, Cat and Madison in 2009, social media had not yet infiltrated tweendom; Instagram didn’t exist, nor did Snapchat and Vine.

“Boys look for hot.”The girls don’t think any of this is good news, but they also accept it as fact.“I think that, um, our generation of kids is more advanced than like, any other,” says Brianna.“I think it’s influenced from the media,” says Cat.“Did you hear what Adam Lambert did? He did a little” she pauses, lowering her voice “oral sex there.”“Do men measure their penises? Facebook and Twitter were still the province of teenagers and adults.

This desire to dress up is learned from parents, older siblings, friends, toys, magazines, books, computer games, apps, social media platforms, Disney characters, parent-approved celebrities, parent-disapproved celebrities, pop music, shopping malls, advertisements, billboards and more.