You know what it means when someone writes the phrase "all grown-up" on the cover of a lads' mag, or on a blog? It means that a young girl has reached an age where it's legal for her to be sexually active, yet she still retains a hint of untouchable youth about her. Fun and not at all creepy, right?
You wanna see something depressing? Type "All grown up" into the world's largest news provider, DailyMail.co.uk.
Yep, 12879 results found. Let's see who's titillating the Mail.
Elle Fanning. She was born the year The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and There's Something About Mary came out, but now? SHE'S ALL GROWN-UP! That's the same "All Grown Up" (give or take a hyphen) used to descibe 31-year-old Anna Chlumsky, whose "smoky eyes" are really only of note because she used to be a famous eight-year-old.
And here she is again. It seems like this woman's only accomplishment is that she used to be a kid. At least this one's not overtly sexual:
Unlike this one:
Here, the term "All Grown Up" is used to refer to Bonnie Wright's transformation from familiar child actor to "sexy". In fact, here, "All Grown Up" almost appears to be its own franchise. As in: "This week's All Grown Up sex kitten is..."
She's no little girl any more!
Tell you what mate, if I were a younger man, etc.
Oh right. Well that's a bit weird. Hmm. Maybe that exclamation mark makes it fun and youthful, rather than the sweaty-palmed drooling on show here:
Actually that last one's my favourite. I'm sure "LOL" is a film or something, but I like the idea of Miley Cyrus noshing for lulz while Demi Moore has a condom party in the next room.
Anyway, I'm not entirely sure what this brief study into the Daily Mail's usage of "All Grown Up" means, other than that they think it's a target phrase which will encourage their readers to click on it. And if that's true, what does it say about their readers? What does it say about what the Mail thinks about its readers? It all just feels a bit scummy. It's the kind of thing that wankers who have never read VICE assume we do.
Until now I guess.
This article was first published a couple of years back. More recently, Owen Jones has launched a petition to "stop the Daily Mail sexualising children" – if you want to, you can sign it here.