Snowballing, n00dz, and sexting. Baby, it's a wild (digital) world.
DIRECTED BY RONNA GRADUS AND JILL BAUER (USA, Special Presentations)
Tuesday, May 1, 9 p.m.
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)
Thursday, May 3, 6:45 p.m.
Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles Street West)
Friday, May 4, 7 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox 1 (350 King Street West)
Sexy Baby is the kind of young-girls-are-hyper-sexualized-in-Western-contemporary-culture documentary you feel you have seen before, yet every time you see it you still feel offput. While there is a reluctance to adopt a maternal-judgmental stance towards the women who, as grown adults, can do what they want, when they want, and whom they want, the documentaries are often framed in such reactionary terms that it’s hard not to feel protective. (In this case especially towards Laura, who at 22 is seeking a labiaplasty.)
Where things become more complicated is when this same terrain is being navigated by teens—in this doc Winnifred, who we meet at 12 and by the end is (as the pop song goes) not a girl, not yet a woman at 14.
Though the women in the film lead vastly different lives, the film centres around the thesis that the images we see online, especially porn, shape conceptions of our bodies and sexuality. And while this affects both boys and girls, the brunt of these changes falls on the latter who are posting nude pics online and sniping off parts of their “large” labias in order to look like adult entertainers.
The problem with Sexy Baby is that while opening these issues up for discussion is commendable, it doesn’t have much to offer about where we go from here. In the end, it just feels like baby steps.