Sexy Baby (Educational Version)
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sexy Baby is a documentary that turns a critical eye on how the media -- particularly the wide availability of porn/racy content via digital and social media -- has impacted women's and girls' self image and concept of "sexiness." It looks at the issue through the experiences of three different characters: a precocious 12-year-old girl living in New York City who spends tons of time on Facebook, a 22-year-old kindergarten teacher from North Carolina who decides to get labiaplasty surgery so that her genitals will look more like what men see in adult films, and a 32-year-old exotic dancer/former porn star who's ready for the next phase of her life. This is edgy stuff, but it's excellent watch-together fare for teens (both boys and girls) and their parents and will hopefully jump-start important conversations. Expect lots of risque, sexualized images in montages, from gyrating dancers to same-sex kisses to glimpses of porn movie posters/boxes. There are also textbook-like illustrations of female reproductive anatomy and scenes from the labiaplasty. The strongest language ("f--k," "s--t") is bleeped, but words like "bitch," "ass," and "hell" are audible. Note: This review is of the 58-minute educational version of the movie (which Common Sense Media consulted on during the editing process); the longer theatrical/DVD cut includes far more graphic images and language.
What's the story?
SEXY BABY introduces viewers to three characters in very different places in their lives. There's 12-year-old Winnifred (who turns 13 over the course of the movie), a savvy New York City teen who's being raised by a proudly feminist mom and a very socially aware dadspends tons of time on Facebook, creating a persona that she isn't quite sure she can (or wants to) live up to in real life. Laura is a 22-year-old kindergarten teacher from North Carolina who's determined to get cosmetic surgery on her genitals; a former boyfriend asked her what was "wrong" because she didn't look like porn stars "down there," so she's ready to subject herself to the knife for a labiaplasty, sure that the surgery will increase her self esteem and give her sex life a boost. And Nichole, 32, is an award-winning pole dancer who had a career in adult films as Nakita Kash but is now married and looking to start a family with her husband (also a veteran of the industry). By following Winnifred, Laura, and Nichole as they navigate their lives and reflect on the role that media has played/is playing in their decisions and self-image, Sexy Baby offers a critical look at what it means to be a woman -- and sexy -- in the digital age.
Is it any good?
Sexy Baby doesn't have a magic solution for dealing with the way that digital media influences how girls and women perceive themselves, but it has an important mission. By opening viewers' eyes to the fact that digital media does have an influence -- every day, and in powerful ways -- it raises awareness and will hopefully prompt necessary discussions between teens (both boys and girls) and their peers and parents. Winnifred, in particular, is likely to resonate with teen viewers -- her thoughts on everything from Facebook to Lady Gaga are both relatable and insightful.
Nichole's experiences and perspectives are also likely to have a strong impact on teens, especially those who have seen porn; she puts a very realistic, sympathetic face on an industry that many aren't likely to have given much thought to. She's also very aware of the media's role in shaping expectations around sex. Far less aware is Laura, who doesn't seem bothered by the fact that her self esteem is directly dependent on insecurities that arose after hearing porn-watching guys talk about how unattractive non-standard genitals are. But the fact that her surgery doesn't help her find true love/happiness overnight may be enough of a message to teens. As long as they come away from Sexy Baby thinking more critically about the role that media plays in their own life and their own self esteem, then the film has done its job.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how Sexy Baby portrays sex/sexuality. What influences the characters' opinions about sex and their own self image? What role does the media play? Is it all media or just particular types?
Winnifred says there's an inherent conflict between who you are in real life and who you are on Facebook. What do you think about that perspective? Is it accurate? Teens: How does your persona on social media impact how you behave offline?
What do the three main characters learn over the course of the movie? Who did you find most relatable? Why?
What message did you take away at the end of Sexy Baby? What action(s) can you take to combat the pressures of media on your own (and others') self-image?