Several websites are reporting the Pediatrics Journal’s latest research findings, revealing that girls in the United States are reaching puberty earlier than ever. Of course this research raises concerns for the young ladies’ health, including breast cancer and risk of sexual behavior. Although speculations are rapid, the true cause for this pattern is unknown.
While reading the reports this week, I was drawn again to the practice of “breast ironing.” This practice was brought to my attention several weeks ago through a YouTube view. I thought about discussing the topic then, but the images, the videos (and there are many of them), and the practice were far too troubling to adequately put into words. My heart was troubled for days, yet here I am again pondering the plight of little girls all over the world.
Breast ironing is the practice (normally implemented by the mother!) where hot stones are pressed on a young girl’s breasts to prevent them from growing. The parents conclude that smaller breast, no breasts, or even deformed breasts will make the young girl less attractive…preventing sexual behavior and pregnancy. These parents consider breast ironing a reasonable form of birth control. Somehow, the United States’ debate about whether or not to issue condoms in schools pales in comparison to this practice.
I have linked a “cleaner” video about the little girls suffering under this practice in Cameroon. This video is not appropriate for children, and adults should be discerning about whether or not to view its contents.
I don’t know what to say or do about this practice. I know that God values our bodies and has ordained the beauty of a woman’s body. Is sex the issue to discuss here? I know some who will argue that abstinence does not work. I submit that abstinence does work for those who practice it. Is education the topic of discussion? Or how are we, as parents and adults, to protect our children? How do we raise girls to value their bodies so that parents don’t resort to extreme measures, boys are required to respect, and girls are choosing abstinence before marriage?