Bernice Loh is a doctoral candidate and teaching associate at Monash University, Australia. Born and bred in Singapore, her current research focuses on Singaporean tween girls (aged 8 to 12), who want to fashion themselves adults. Besides taking an interest in girls’ young femininities, she has also published articles on local music in Singapore. Her work can be found in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Girlhood Studies and The Conversation (AU) [forthcoming].
Too Much? Too Fast? Too Young? – The adultification of tween girls’ dressing in Singapore
Girlhood; young femininities; adultification; Asia; culture
My PhD thesis examines girlhood in Singapore, and why tween girls, in particular, want to fashion themselves after adults. From 12 focus groups conducted with 29 Singaporean girls, this thesis complicates the discourse of sexualisation – which is often central to the understanding of why girls are fashioning themselves after adults in the West – and contributes to a lack of research on girls’ cultural identities within this region. In analysing the changing mediascapes in tween girls’ lives, the culturally-specific values and meanings attached to their dressing and girls’ interpretive repertoires of what it means to fashion themselves after adults, this thesis also underscores why multiple discourses of girls’ adultification is beneficial. Scholarship on this topic has tended to be polarised, situating girls as either knowing or passive recipients of an adult culture, or adultification as either harmful or empowering. Rather, this thesis seeks to show how contexts outside the West can serve as a possible way to advance current knowledge about girls, which contradicts any straightforward assessments of girls.
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