The Debate

The 'Cuties' controversy: Are today's schoolgirls empowered or under pressure?


Why has "Cuties" struck a nerve? An award-winning film set in Paris's working class suburbs, about an 11-year-old girl torn between the demands of her family and the pressure to be sexy, seemed destined for an honourable run on the art house circuit. 


Then came outcry over Netflix's poster campaign in the US. But despite the streaming giant pulling the ad and apologizing, a #CancelNetflix campaign is still going strong, with Republican lawmakers taking aim at the movie itself. We'll ask why. The film director herself says the whole point of the movie is to illustrate how children put enormous pressure on themselves to be hip... and yes, sexy.

Meanwhile, older teenage French girls have launched a social media campaign to demand the right to wear what they want to school, including miniskirts and crop tops. There too, is it about empowerment or submission? Does the digital age amplify the social pressures on teens or is this just the latest embodiment of the healthy rebellion of the next generation against established norms?

Produced by Charles Wente, Juliette Laurain and Imen Mellaz.

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