March 28, 2011

It’s Not Just the Abercrombie ‘Push-Up’ Bikini That’s the Problem, It’s the Sea of Sexualized Products

Filed under: Sexuality — Tags: , , , , — Melanie @ 2:51 pm

Dr. Robyn Silverman was featured on a segment of the Today Show on MSN this morning in response to the controversy over Abercrombie + Fitch’s “push-up” kiddie bikini. She makes a point similar to the one I made last night about The Gap’s “always skinny” jeans ad campaign: it’s not just this one padded bikini top marketed to children that contributes to the early sexualization of pre-pubescent girls, but the cavalcade of products that sex-up our kids. It’s a point I mentioned in a post last year when I highlighted the countless products targeting our children. Listen to the full conversation below.

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January 18, 2011

An Open Letter to TLC: Cancel Toddlers & Tiaras

Originally written for Pigtail Pals- Redefine Girly by Melissa Wardy. Cross-posted with permission.
Recent beauty pageant contestant. She is two years old.

Dear Producers of Toddlers & Tiaras, TLC, and Discovery Communications LLC:

It is an extremely thin veil that hides the atrocious “Toddlers & Tiaras” as a documentary-style show for your network. For the past four seasons the show has done a good job, not so much with teaching, but of giving viewers a voyeuristic peek into the children’s beauty pageant world. We don’t need to see anymore. As Season 5 reaches its midpoint, the show now continues to do little more than become complicit in the exploitation of the little girls at its center. At best, it is now a mockumentary of the visibly unbalanced mothers (and a few fathers) who force their children to spend long and uncomfortable hours participating in these expensive pageants. Many of these children are too young to say whether or not they want to participate. When these children act out and demonstrate they do not enjoy what is happening, or do not want it to happen any longer, they are still made to participate by their pageant moms. Let us be clear from the outset that after this season it is time to cancel the show.

I’m sure inside your producer heads you think this is crazy, especially as the show has received some buzz-worthy, controversial attention recently and continues to pull in advertisers and an average of 1.3 million viewers each week….but as your mission statements goes, it is the job of the Discovery channel family to satisfy curiosity. TLC has done its job with this show, as almost everyone who has been exposed to the program finds it distasteful and widely condemns the child beauty pageant circuit. Our curiosity has been satisfied – as demonstrated with the several thousands of negative and disapproving comments left in the last couple of weeks alone. We’ve seen it. We don’t like it. We’re over it.

The idea of two year old girls strutting around with cones protruding out of her bustier and five year olds who sit trembling and screaming in a chair at a salon as she is enticed into a painful beauty treatment will tend to leave a bad taste in our mouth. It leaves us less interested in the pageants themselves, but more interested in gawking at and judging the deranged mothers who subject their poor daugthers to this twisted world of judged fake beauty. That might make for good ratings, but it doesn’t make for a happy and healthy childhood of the young girls who hold the title of this show. Just like their overbearing mothers, you exploit these children. A shameful act on both parts.

The duration of this show has coincided with a large effort by a small group of dedicated experts to raise awareness to the general public about the sexualization of girls. The parents we have reached now understand the emotional, psychological, and physical harm a young girl is exposed to when she is sexualized.  As the 2007 American Psychological Association’s task force report showed us, early sexualization can lead to self-esteem issues, depression, eating disorders, and early promiscuity.

Contestant on the children’s beauty pageant circuit.

“Toddlers & Tiaras” is a petri dish of sexualization. Little girls are taught, often times forced by their domineering mothers, to act coquettishly, learn suggestive dance routines, wear sexualized costumes and bathing suits, endure hours of hair and make-up, and are even put on restrictive diets in order to lose weight for competition. This is perverse. While TLC continues to air “Toddlers & Tiaras”, the network becomes an agent of this sexualization.


August 15, 2010

Just What Every Toddler Needs to go With Those Heels: Skinny Jeans!

As if high heels, padded kiddie bikinis, thong underwear, stripper poles, and denim diapers weren’t enough, parents are now able to buy their toddler their own pair of skinny jeans.

Skinny jeans are just the latest item in a larger cumulative force that is turning babies, toddlers and children into miniature adults, in large part through overt sexualization.

Between the celebration of gyrating 7-year-olds, Baby Gaga‘s featured on Youtube, sexy toy makeovers, virgin waxing, glammed up toddlers in fashion advertising, and clothing with sexualized content such as “I’m a boob man,” “Lock up your daughters” or “Does this diaper make my butt look big? girls and boys are being harried into premature adulthood by corporate marketing forces seeking profit.

Cross-posted at Elephant Journal.

June 5, 2010

Baby Gaga: simple role playing or kiddie porn?

Filed under: Sexuality — Tags: , , , , , — Melanie @ 10:19 pm

Yet another girl is pimped out by parents in order to create an internet frenzy. “Baby Gaga” was featured on the Huffington Post today and, to be honest, I felt like I was watching kiddie porn. The simple role playing and dress-up games I engaged in in my youth have become too serious and public for me to be comfortable with. We live in an age when younger and younger girls are sexualized and online access places them at direct risk of coming into contact with registered sex offenders.  In this context, a video like this seems incredibly irresponsible and blinded by potential hits (and a reality show, perhaps?).

For more on sexualizing young girls read my previous posts on gyrating 7 year-olds, sexy kids (toddlers and infants).