Directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus (2012)
Sexy Baby is a documentary about the commodification of female sexuality and its destructive effect on young women’s identity and self-esteem. It follows three particular women over two years: a 13 year old girl in conflict with her parents over her sexually provocative Facebook postings, a 23 year old who undergoes labioplasty to make her genitals conform to what her boyfriends are seeing in on-line pornography and a pole dancer struggling to cast off her stripper persona for her to be fully appreciated for her intelligence, assertiveness and compassion.
I felt all three stories were very sensitively portrayed. They were interspersed with images of soft porn that most modern teenagers with Internet see from age 12-13 on via the Internet and interviews with teenage boys and men about their attitudes towards pornography and female sexuality.
I found the 13 year old Winifred’s story the most engaging. Winnie is a highly intelligent high achiever. Despite a close and loving relationship with both parents, she succumbs to massive peer pressure to dress provocatively and to post revealing images of herself on Facebook.
I strongly empathized with the parents’ struggle to deal with this behavior. I also strongly support their decision to ban her from Facebook (eight times over six months) whenever her postings became too extreme.
I must admit I prefer her father’s approach to her scanty outfits to her mother’s. Her mom takes the attitude: “It’s your body – you can dress the way you want to.” In contrast, her father is honest about the anxieties her provocative dress provokes in him.
Over time, this seems to be quite effective.