Lana provided this link to the Report of the APA of the Sexualization of Girls in the comment trail yesterday that I felt was important enough to warrant another post. Thanks Lana!
While yesterday's post was fairly light and sarcastic, I was not joking around when I talked about my frustration with inappropriate toys aimed at young children. We are living in a time where the steady bombardment of images fed to us by the media and for profit corporations are causing us to become desensitized. Television, magazines, movies, toy companies, clothing companies, cosmetics, fitness, food, drink - image is everywhere. As adults, this over saturation of what the media defines as beautiful is alarming and harmful, to young children it can be devastating. The media is teaching children to conform to an ideal of beauty that is abnormal and unhealthy, it is also teaching them adult sexuality at an entirely inappropriate age.
The APA states that "In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner (e.g., dressed in revealing clothing, with bodily postures or facial expressions that imply sexual readiness) and are objectified (e.g., used as a decorative object, or as body parts rather than a whole person). In addition, a narrow (and unrealistic) standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized. These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate." The Report notes that advertisements for clothing feature young Hollywood stars in sexually provocative clothes geared to young children and clothing lines that are completely inappropriate - like thongs sized 7 years to 10 years of age. Honestly, I would seriously like to meet a mother who would buy thong underwear for their 7 year old. I'd like to meet her just so I could smack her face silly. Then I would like to find the clothing exec who thought it was a good idea to market thongs to 7 year olds and run them over several times with my minivan.
The study goes on to say that "research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood." Who is surprised with this? The ideal of sex and beauty portrayed by the media and advertisers is such a small, narrow level of beauty that virtually 90% of the rest of the world falls out of it. The pursuit of this narrow ideal has spawned the billion dollar plastic surgery business and has led to the unnaturalization of women and men. While this is a completely separate topic that we can dedicate another post to another time, one thing that is relevant is the increase of plastic surgery for younger and younger girls condoned and even insisted upon by their parents. Nowadays, plastic surgeons are dealing with young patients, starting as young as 15, for nose, eye, chin, ear and even boob jobs.
I have a very close friend who when she turned 15, her mother took her to the plastic surgeon's office for an eye and nose job. The girl did not even know she was going to the plastic surgeons until she was in their offices and swept onto a surgery table being prepped for surgery. Her mother had decided that the girl's looks were not attractive enough and had forced plastic surgery on her daughter. To this day my friend is still shocked and hurt by her mother's actions. This story is not unique. There are many parents who believe that plastic surgery is the answer to their children's problems. But what about the message being sent to the girls? Your natural looks is unacceptable so change them. Why can't people accept the natural beauty of all of us?
It is time of a new era of people who are willing to step up and fight back the media and the advertisers and let them know that adult sexualization of young girls is not acceptable anymore! That plastic surgery is not the end all! And to celebrate the natural beauty of all people, all colors and all sizes. I believe this has to be a battle cry carried by all parents. We as parents have got to step up and monitor what our children watch, read and buy. We have to counter attack and teach our children to grow up slowly and to respect their bodies and themselves. Turn off the television shows, video games and the music videos and spend more quality family time together. Let's talk to our children about what really matters in life. Not perfect nose, perfect skin, perfect breasts, but talents, skills, intelligence, morals and respect. And maybe we can have a revolution.