It comes as no surprise that the entertainment world strives to be sexy and fun. Sex sells, so no matter what, no matter how young the idols may be, entertainment companies find ways to sexualize them to appeal to the crowd, although it's not always overt or repulsively done - but there's no doubt that it is done. It can be done through lyrics, outfits, dances, or even exploiting innocence in perhaps "shotaro" or "lolita" concepts. They can be subtly done, but they can also be overanalyzed as people see things differently.
Regardless, check out these female idols or groups who may have been sexualized when they were just too young as voiced by popular opinion and public observation.
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TWICE's "Like OOH-AHH"
There's been a lot of speculation about the sexual nature of the song with lines like "I'm waiting for someone who can make me feel something like never before," as well as "Keep me still" and "Make me speechless" before ordering, "Make me go OOH-AHH." On top of that, the hip thrusting dance motions of that part and their outfits (like Momo's) has people's eyebrows raised, considering some of these girls just got into high school.
Tzuyu's sexy elevator commercial
She was about 15 years old when she was dressed in a fairly revealing, tight outfit while dancing sexily in an elevator. It looks like she's being essentially peeked at because the camera is made to look like it's the one in the corner of the elevator and she otherwise thinks she's alone. She then covers up with a trench coat and "fixes her clothes" when someone else walks into the elevator.
IOI's cleavage exposure
Netizens have voiced their protests regarding the unnecessary exposure of the girls' cleavage considering they are very young. Jeon So Mi is 15 years old and Pinky is 18 years old. The angles going down to their bosoms were deemed unnecessary and too much at their young age, not to mention, of course, the low cuts of their tops.
Hello Venus's "Do You Want Some Tea?" song
The girls were around 19 years old on average when this song came out, and do not be fooled by the cute nature of the dance and song. The message is not even very covert. You know how in movies the woman might ask the man up by asking if he wants a cup of coffee? But you know what that really means! "Do you want some tea?" More like, "Would you like to stay the night?" That seems to be the basis of this song with the lyrics going:
"Please take me to my house
I don't want to part ways already
Would you like to know me better?
If so, would you like to come in and drink tea?
A night by myself is so long
I want to get to know you better
I'll ask of you until morning comes."
Red Velvet's "Ice Cream Cake"
Red Velvet are pretty young, and Yeri joined the group for this round of promotions at sixteen years old. In the same grain as "Like OOH-AHH" and "Do You Want Some Tea?" this song might seem all colorful and innocent enough, but the lyrics had caught fans' attention for its suggestive nature.
"Take me and go, hurry and go . . .
My hands wrapped around your waist, the heart goes thump thump as the day passes. . .
give it to me, the sweet-tasting ice cream cake
The taste matching this special day
The ice cream on my mouth
My chest is thumping, you'll come to me, right?
It's so tasty, come and chase me,
I can't hold it in, I scream, you scream,
Gimme that gimme that ice cream . . .
Pops, it's melting in my mouth,
Put a lot in, it's melting in my mouth,
Baby boy, other men know nothing,
You're so fine…"
IU's "lolita" concepts
IU recently got backlash for seeming to support the "lolita" concept as well as the suggestive nature of the lyrics for "ZeZe," but some people interpreted those lyrics to mean that she was made to appeal to older men with her girlish charms since she was young, so this was her speaking out about it. Either way, there is no doubt that her youthful looks were utilized to gain attention from "uncle fans." For example, she wears the pigtails of a young girl for "You & I" promotions but is dressed in a very short skirt. This is an example of a possible sexualization of an artist but in a more subtle way. She was eighteen at the time, but made to look fourteen.
AOA's sexy concept beginning with "Confused"
While maknae Chanmi was only 16 and Seolhyun 18 and the rest around the same age, AOA revamped their image to become the sexy goddesses they're known for today. This started off with "Confused," which has a lot of sexualized dance moves from stretching their legs to the side and sticking their butts out in tight leather pants, all the while having their finger in their mouth in an "innocent-yet-not-so-innocent" way. They followed up with the suggestive "Miniskirt" in which the unzipping motion of their skirt was prohibited on music shows and "Like a Cat" in which they dressed as cats in tight leather.
EXID's Junghwa in 'Maxim' and for "Up & Down"
It's a bit young to have a 19-year-old in the pages of 'Maximum' dressed revealingly and striking provocative poses, isn't it? Although Junghwa looks mature for her age, she posed for men's magazine 'Maxim' dressed in cleavage-baring tops and short skirts while playing with whipped cream and licking her lips. This was the same year "Up & Down" came out along with the controversy that the pelvic thrusting dance move was too provocative. In the MV, as well, the emphasis is placed on Junghwa's body, like the scene in which her butt is sticking out from the wall while the tiger pokes her and she can't do anything about it.
Girl's Day's Hyeri in "Something"
Even though the girls took on sexy concepts before this song, the dance move on the floor in the beginning of the choreography takes the cake... Maknae Hyeri was only 19 at the time. It comes as no surprise the oldest Sojin took the lead in this dance, but Hyeri pretty much just got out of high school at this age. This dance also includes playing a teasing game of peek-a-boo with the skirt.
TWICE's 'Skoolook' ad campaign with J.Y. Park
The girls' ad campaign with J.Y. Park became a controversy with netizens, including one teacher, asking why the slogans included "shortening the skirt" and having "jackets as tight as corsets," and accusing the brand of sexualizing the uniform. They also noted J.Y. Park looking at the girls through his sunglasses.
Girls' Generation's "Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)"
The girls became pretty much any man's fantasy in super short shorts and uniforms as they whisperingly sing to their man to tell them everything he desires because they will fulfill all of those wishes for him. Suggestive in nature and lyrics as well as parts of the choreography that accentuates their legs, the song was performed by the girls while maknae Seohyun was only 18 and the rest were not much older.
There undoubtedly are many more examples. Of course this is nothing new and to be expected in any entertainment world. Think how young Britney Spears was when she started, too, but do you think that makes it okay? It could be a matter of how you view or interpret them. Which ones do you think were too much and which ones were no big deal in your opinion? Let us know below and stay tuned for the male version!