Wanting to appeal to others is in our human nature. It's in the flair of the peacocks tail, the flare of rhino's nostril or the howl of a chimp. But while animals have stayed pretty consistent in their attempts to woo a mate, over time us humans have evolved, through pious epochs and the more liberal ones. In a Rubenesque painting a curvaceous form was a reflection of wealth and health. Freeflowing skirts and long hair were the hallmarks of the 60s.
Today it's morphed into something else, sexiness means sex. I was at a party in Ibiza for teens with my stepdaughter and dancing carelessly doesn't exist any more. Twerking reigns ( for those un acquainted with Miley Cyrus it's gyrating your booty in a provocative manner). Dressing up is now undressing, bearing as much of your body as possible and with that comes the obsession with markers of slenderness like the thigh gap, bikini bridge and visible collar bone.
First encounters with boys aren't the innocent fumble and snog, omnipresent porn has raised expectations of amorous teen boys. One friend's daughter came home in tears as their boyfriend had said he wouldn't date her if she didn't have a Brazilian wax.
Before you were defined by music, sport, hobbies now it is your profile image and selfies that take usually take 10 shots to get a perfect one and even after that it is often edited. Silly faces have been replaced by pouts and model poses.
Now I'm wondering if my Granny felt the same looking back at us in our rara skirts and stilettos and whether I am just victim of a generational gap. But the facts are glaring - we have reached a point where to have flaws is just unacceptable. What's worse is that if you don't feel you have the figure or face you should have, then many are prepared to go to extreme lengths to change it. 18th birthday boob jobs are on the increase and lip and butt implants as demonstrated by Kim Kardashian are on the wish list of many impressionable teens.
The second danger of this hyperssexualisation is that it driving girls and boys to have premature experiences, not just having sex before you are ready, but experiences that imitate the rough, porno style, that is so widely available to view on the internet. None of this is helped by social networks and dating sites such as Tinder that do not tolerate imperfection. There was a recent viral example of a guy who told a girl he couldn't date her because she was too fat in real life.
All of this demonstrates how we have drifted far from our innate humanity - we will literally torture ourselves to look pretty or hot. And none of it makes us feel good deep down if we are unsure about ourselves in the first place. A mother in Australia decided to become a body builder because she had had enough of feeling bad about her appearance. She lost kilos gained muscles and still felt under confident.
Confidence in ourselves, in our children is the most powerful weapon for life, for love, for everything. Believing you're great because you're funny, smart, creative or kind is the ultimate force in attraction, and of sexiness. Nothing competes with making someone laugh. Chemistry is a mysterious multidimensional alchemy - connecting with someone spiritually, cerebrally is far more enduring than just physically. Those that are appearance focussed usually grow tired of their object of beauty and move on to a new one.
All of this may be a truism but what do to do about it? We clearly don't have enough role models, the most influential celebs are sadly those who are advocating cosmetic surgery. There are lone voices such as Emma Watson who said not long ago - my idea of sexy is that less is more, the less you reveal the more people can wonder.
And our education isn't equipped for handling these issues either. PSHE does offer some guidance, but more about sex basics, rather than the emotions or experiences of it. I would argue that self-esteem classes should be a cornerstone of the course, if a teen respects him or herself he/she will feel able to say no. Their parents are also at a loss, unaware of their teens precocious development. Open dialogue is key now as so much of what goes on is hidden in the virtual world. Indeed social platforms have a huge role to play in encouraging best practice, they need to tell the truth about photo editing, make it unacceptable and also red flag dangerous memes and trends.
We all owe future generations the chance to experiment, have new and exciting encounters but it needs to be anchored by a huge bedrock of resilience and self-worth - one bad experience can create a lifetime of problems and regret. In the wise words of a Greek philosopher, good habits formed at youth make all the difference.Suggest a correction