Teen sex objects require limitations

AMES, Iowa — There aren’t very many men on campus who haven’t drooled over the image of Britney Spears on MTV strutting and flipping around in her little Catholic school girl’s uniform with her blouse open to show her bra; shirt tied beneath her breasts revealing her tight tummy and navel; a skirt so farcically short that it makes a mockery of private, religious education.
It’s hard to remember that this girl is jailbait. Especially when the latest cover of Rolling Stone magazine features a barely-clad Spears wearing little more than a bra and a smile.
Inside the magazine, Spears can be seen in several risque and suggestive poses. In case subtlety isn’t your bag, in one photo she stands with her back to the camera by a little girl’s bicycle wearing tiny shorts with “baby” across the butt.
Now, it would be the height of naivete to think that rock ‘n’ roll and sex don’t go together like Keith Richards and Jack Daniels at the Hollywood Hilton, but the trend of sexualizing teenagers sets a dangerous precedent, especially when Spears’ publicist seems to want to push the naughty little girl angle hard and heavy.
But a distinction should be drawn between the cute teeny-boppers in cool outfits who make the boys and girls buy records by the truckload and the exploitation of a minor by her parents, her record company and the media.
Spears undoubtedly has no problem with these displays; teenagers rarely do. That’s why they have parents to draw the line for them. Show biz parents are remarkably different, it seems.
Pictures like these are only barely legal when taken by private citizens. But when Rolling Stone does it, it’s just good business.
And they have been doing it a lot lately. We get it — you’re into leather bustiers, how saucy you are. How about something new for a change?
Lack of artistic originality aside, adult women can make their own decisions about how much skin they want to show the public in entertainment rags. But when it comes to the under-18 set, there need to be some limits on how sexy these children should be.
Spears may be on top now, having the time of her life, but one day she will look back and see what the rest of us see: a moderately talented girl whose body is the main event.

This staff editorial originally appeared in Monday’s Iowa State University Daily.