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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Harmful to everyone, really

Posted by: Hammer / 9:47 AM

The BBC reports:

The media's portrayal of young women as sex objects harms girls' mental and physical health, US experts warn.

Magazines, television, video games and music videos all have a detrimental effect, a task force from the American Psychological Association reported.

Sexualisation can lead to a lack of confidence with their bodies as well as depression and eating disorders.

Such images also have a negative effect on healthy sexual development in girls, the researchers said.

First, a big "duh". Is there any question that the presenting hypersexualized media to adolescents will harm them somehow? Whoever signed off on the Bratz product line -- targeted at elementary school girls -- should be examined for sociopathic tendencies.

I have no doubt that the barrage of impossibly sexualized images assaulting grade school girls harms them. None at all. It's a crass, commercial assault on girlhood.

But this assault doesn't harm only girls. Young boys are targeted as well. For every girl who grows up thinking that womanhood means having the same measurements as a Barbie doll, there's now a boy growing up who thinks that real women look like Lara Croft.

Boys have leaped over the air-brushed and sanitized pictures of young starlets into a digital world of impossibly perfect proportions, where bikini chicks play volleyball on the beach with a body structure that makes an upright posture less likely for the athletes than for your average sauropod.

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4 Comments:

I could not agree more with your assessment. But the problem is that sex sells, sells well, and this will never change. So what do we do?
-MM

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:42 AM  

I have no idea. I'd love to just ban everything that I think is indecent or inappropriate, but that's neither practical nor constitutional.

Public television is one great solution. Public television produces great shows for the very young. There are fewer good shows on public TV once kids get a little older. Big Bird can't compete with Sandy Squirrel.

Another solution is better information, earlier, to parents about the shows their kids watch and the games they purchase. Xtreme Beach Volleyball is already rated M for Mature, but I wonder how many parents even look at the game rating when they are buying a volleyball game?

By Blogger Hammer, at 12:19 PM  

What bugs me most is how young the target audience is. Why are my six year olds being induced to buy dolls that look like cheap hookers? Sure Barbie has always had an impossible figure but for the most part she has usually dressed and "acted" like a fairly regular person. (I've always thought the concern about body image based solely on chesty dolls was a bit over hyped. I grew up playing with GI Joes (the old kind, Barbie height and with real hair) and never thought I needed to have six pack abs. The fact that I do have them is just a coincidence.)

By Blogger Jambo, at 10:54 PM  

I think Barbie has taken some criticism to heart about their dolls. The "math is hard" doll comes to mind. Ms. Hammer has pre-approved the Barbie dolls in the home so that they are more reasonable facsimiles of actual human body structures.

That said, I think that GI Joes remain "action figures" while Barbies remain "dolls". Children interact with the toys different. GI Joes blow stuff up. Barbies are dressed up for Avril Lavigne dance parties.

By Blogger Hammer, at 8:10 AM  

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