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
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.
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.
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