Friday, February 5, 2010

Kids and the Media: Danger! Danger!

Well it seems I can't stay away from the touchy subjects this week. I have tried talking myself out of writing about this topic, but it's burning to get out.

Surely I can't be the only person concerned about the amount of early sexualisation of young children we are seeing in ads and products lately? I have seen a few incidences this past week that have left me shaking my head.

Take for example the recent ad campaign in South Korea for Huggies, which attempted to emulate a raunchy David Beckham ad...




















Oh, isn't it pithy and witty and a humourous parody! Umm... No. Hell No! There is nothing right with this ad. This is not what baby oil is for. Ever. I can't even start on how wrong this ad is.


Then we have the harlotwholesome Emily Grace and her BFF Noah Cyrus (sister of Miley) releasing a sexed-up range of childrens clothing, including fishnet stockings and everything of the short, tight and pluging variety. Here they are a recent red carpet appearance...






Sweet, aren't they?


Darling poppets, I can just picture them now, skipping through daisy fields, brushing each others hair, sliding up and down My First Stripper poles...










Of course, they're not the first to try and get young girls to dress like hookers. Here we have my own personal bugbear, and an entire range that is banned from my household: Bratz.


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These bloody dolls (and accessories, including a clothing range that features g-strings and padded bras for primary schoolers!!!!) are a symbol to me of everything that is wrong in marketing to children. Insidiously sexual, the graphics and marketing material make me want to gag. They're supposedly all about being fabulously sass-tastic and independent, but all they are really doing is encouraging young girls to want to grow up way to fast, and promoting the idea that sexy is okay for young girls.

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A lot of people will wonder, "What is the real harm in this? Surely they're just playing dress ups?". This is just not so. The Australian Psychological Society confirms that far from fantasy and make believe, children see these images as existing in reality and that physical beauty and sexual attractiveness are intrinsic to self esteem and are part of a successful childhood social experience. Early sexualisation and exposure to advertising and marketing encouraging this leads to the three most common mental health issues facing girls and women today: eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression. Leaving them, of course, a perfect target for grooming by a far greater danger.

As much as I would love for this to be a world so safe that it didn't matter how inappropriately young children were portrayed, it's not. The more we sexualise and eroticise young children, the more we make them a target for paedaphilia. Child sexual abuse is on the rise, and I can't help but wonder when we are going to make the connection between the increased levels of children shown as sexual beings in the media and marketing, and the increased amount of perverts abusing innocent kids.

If you would like to learn more about the dangers of early sexualisation of young children and strategies to educate your children to combat this, go to Kids Free to B Kids, The Australia Institute or Young Media Australia


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19 comments:

  1. This is so wrong I don't know where to start. Kids need to have childhoods before they can even think about emulating adults. It's a frightening trend in our society and one that I'm sure will do lasting damage to the generations who are susceptible to it. Great post topic - I don't think you'll find too much opposition to what you have said. At least, I hope not!

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  2. Just last night on the news was a story about the ads appearing in the storefront windows of the Armani Exchange store...same sex couple kissing and embracing. A Mother's group is calling for the removal of the ads citing that its soft porn and the media is trying to make it about the fact that the couples are same sex. It matters not if it is man and woman or man and man pictured in the ads....the point of it is the sexual display!

    Makes me so effn mad. One man was interviewed saying that people shouldn't get so uptight that our society was moving in the direction of the ads and we should just accept it. I wanted to knock his teeth down his throat. I guess throwing out my TV and canceling all magazine subscriptions to the house isn't enough. Now I have to create my own commune and not let my daughter venture beyond the backyard!

    (not really...but that's how I feel)

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  3. I so hear ya! I get so stinkin' mad at the media and the crap that is out there for kids. Disney shows that are geared towards my kids showing kids dating and kissing at 12? Really? Do we have to encourage behavior we already know that they are going to participatein too early? I was appaled at Miley Cyrus' clothing line for Walmart. She is a 17 year old girl posed in a bigger than life sized poster wearing a ultra mini, and a tank top with her cleavage hanging out. It sickens me. Thanks for posting this!
    teri

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  4. That is so disgusting. I'm just too appalled to even know what to say. I knew it was bad; I didn't know it was THIS bad. Yikes.

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  5. That David Beckham alike poster is so icky. Why would you put a young kind in that pose - it's just creepy.
    Kate x
    http://secretofficeconfessions.blogspot.com/

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  6. You are so right, it is just so wrong!!!

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  7. Well said Quixy. Yes as you know I am passionate about this subject as well. The media in general irks me a lot, which is ironic because I worked in newspapers for 10 years! So many morals put on the backburner to make money. The whole kiddy thing takes this concept to insane levels, and it is scary raising a kid with these kind of messages filtering through from every direction. Consumption Rebellion also writes a lot on this topic. Sick sick sick. Who are the parents who let their kids star in these commercials etc...? Weirdos

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  8. ps my word verification just now was SOCCER - David Beckham you have a lot to answer for haha

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  9. Hi, found your blog through Sharni (twitter). This trend is disturbing to me. I have a 7-yr-old daughter and a young son as well. A few years ago I was annoyed because I had a hard time finding underwear for her (size 3T) that was NOT low rise. And the last time I bought her some the only kind they had were bikini. Why does a 7 yr old need bikini underwear? Honestly?

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  10. OMG! How short are those dresses in the second picture! I wouldn't even want to see teens or adults wearing them! So yes, I so agree with you

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  11. We are a Bratz free house as well. Girl Child knows exactly why. We have been standing in the toy aisle and Girl Child has said very loudly (as children do): "I can't have Bratz because they don't wear enough clothes. Right, Mum?"

    That Huggies ad makes me want to vomit!

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  12. I have to admit that since there are no young children in our sphere this sort of thing happens outside of my life. I shake my head however at what this means and those revolting pink dresses - puhleeeese no!

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  13. That diaper ad is seriously disturbing! SERIOUSLY! Ugh! What the hell is wrong with people?

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  14. You are so right. This is just wrong. And, what about all of the strides women have made to be treated as equals? Now we can only be equals if we dress like that? Grrr.....

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  15. OHMIGAWD! You nailed it and I couldn't have said it better! The whole world is just getting more and more accepting of lower and lower standards and our children are ending up paying the price.
    It's just sick.

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  16. Excellent post!!!! I am in full agreement and have banned brats and more for years. What we are doing to our children should be a crime.

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  17. Great post. I hadn't seen that Beckham-esque ad, but it's terrible. Wrong on so many levels. And I couldn't agree more, Bratz will never cross the threshold of this home, and my Bratz loving relatives have been firmly told.

    Don't get me started on the bra tops for pre teens, talk about getting them started early.....

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  18. Popping over from SITS to say Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest, and I am really glad I did.

    I found your post very interesting (and I agree 100%). Things aren't any different here in the States. Our culture comments about lost innocence, but the truth is we (aka the media and society) are grabbing it away from our kids.

    Good job on the post and getting the word out there. Hope you SITS Saturday is a great one.

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  19. If you visit the media education foundation (summarised at http://www.sparklingadventures.com/index.php?id=682), you can view "previews" of low-res films that truly inform on the objectification of women in the media (among other issues). They also have a verrrrrrrrry interesting one on the not-so-subtle messages in Disney films.

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Hi! Thanks for leaving a comment. :)