Two weeks ago I was on The Today Show talking about the “loungerie” that 4 year old models were wearing in a French advertisement. The children were made up to look much older and we posed in very inappropriate and sometimes alarming poses. It felt like de ja vu. I had just been on The Today Show and GMA the week before talking about 10 year old Thylane Loubry Blondeau who was posing in French Vogue, an adult fashion magazine, in a spread that caused a collective gasp in several countries.
These are only some of the most recent incidents of known, blatant sexualization we’ve seen and heard about lately. But this year has been a doozy of examples. Here are just a few others:
- Monster High Dolls with their fishnets, exaggerated skinny bodies, and skirts the size of belts on the toy shelves in popular children’s stores (in fact, I was in “Justice” with my 9 year old niece and 2 ½ year old daughter on Sunday and there they were, perched at perfect height for young back-to-school shoppers).
- Skechers Shape Ups for young girls, which prompted one Mom to write me this message: …It is DISGUSTING that sketchers is making and marketing their line of SHAPE UPS for young GIRLS! Now the toys and/or music that may have some implicit layer of influencing girls self/body-image are one thing BUT sneakers designed to tone and shape their legs and BUTTS marketed to 8 year olds?!?!? Inexcusable!!
- Push-up bikini bras for 8 year olds by Abercrombie and Fitch: When I was on The Today Show for this story, they actually had a the very padded, push-up bikini top right there in front of us. This was not lightly padded. This was designed to position a young girl’s chest where others can see and evaluate them.
And it was only a little over a year ago when the video of 7 year olds gyrating on stage to “All the Single Ladies” emerged to a media firestorm.
So when I got into a discussion on twitter with Amy Harman (@BeABetterWoman), Melissa Wardy (@PigtailPals) and Audrey Brashich (@AudreyBrashich), the day of the “loungerie” segment on The Today Show, we all were beyond disgusted. We discussed the need for change. For answers. For a collective shout. It’s not surprising, that this tweet came along:
BeABetterWomen (Amy Harmon)
We all said yes. Yes, I think we all think it is time too. So…let’s do it! Join us!
This Thursday Sept 8th at 9pm EST/8pm CST for a chat on Twitter. Follow hash tag #savegirlhood for the conversation. Add it to the end of a tweet so that we can see a question or comment you make.
You’ll want to follow our faithful crew who will be leading the discussion: @PigtailPals, @BeABetterWoman, @AudreyBrashich, @DrRobyn, and @Nancy_Newmoon.
Let’s pose the important questions and start offering some answers to this pressing problem. After some introductions of our crew, we’ll get into the thick it.
A peak at our powerful crew:
Audrey Brashich has been involved in teen and women’s journalism since 1993. She’s worked and written for magazines such as Sassy, YM, Seventeen, Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl, Teen People, Lucky, Shape, Ms., Health and others. Her work focuses primarily on body image and understanding media influences–and she’s the author of All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2006). Audrey has appeared on TV and radio in the US and Canada (CNN, NBC, CBS, Canada’s CBC). Her commentary has also appeared in USA TODAY, The Vancouver Sun, The Seattle Times, The San Diego Union Tribune, The Toronto Star and many others. She’s served on the board of directors for Mind on the Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering critical analysis of media messages, and consulted with national organizations such as Girls Inc. on their programming and policies for girls.
Amy Harman is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a wife and mother. She has worked as a therapist for several years, most recently as a therapist for women and girls with eating disorders. Because of her work with women and the examples of strong women around her, she has developed a desire help women realize their worth. While taking a break from working full-time, she has created a website to empower women by strengthening relationships and improving mental and emotional well-being. Visit her blog at becomingabetterwoman.com, follower her on Twitter @beabetterwoman, or like her Facebook page. Amy is concerned about the sexualization of young girls because part of becoming a better woman is leaving a better world to those who will be the women of tomorrow. In working with girls struggling with eating disorders, she has seen the harmful impact sexualized messages can make on young minds. She believes we have a duty to teach children the positive aspects of womanhood through example, discussion, and activism.
Dr. Robyn Silverman is a body image expert, parenting resource and child & teen development specialist who appears regularly on national TV such as The Today Show and Good Morning America. An award-winning writer, professional speaker and success coach, she has been the content consultant for 17 books and writes a character education/leadership curriculum called Powerful Words for top level after-school programs worldwide. Her most recent book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It, is based on her passion to help all girls reach their potential and highlight their strengths rather than their deficits. To learn more, please visit DrRobynSilverman.com, follow her on Facebook at Facebook.com/DrRobynSilverman, or on twitter at @DrRobyn. You can also book Dr. Robyn for a speaking engagement: Please contact Dr. Robyn’s speaker’s bureau, American Program Bureau, Inc., or call her speaking agent Nancy Eisenstein directly at: 800.225.4575 Ext 1616 We can help our girls (and our boys!) thrive!
Nancy Gruver is founder of the groundbreaking safe social network and magazine for girls ages 8 and up, New Moon Girls, author of How To Say It® To Girls: Communicating With Your Growing Daughter (Penguin Putnam, 2004) and blogs on girls’ issues, parenting, and media. www.newmoon.com & www.daughters.com
Melissa Wardy is the creator/owner of Pigtail Pals www.pigtailpals.com. A business owner, writer, and children’s advocate, her work has appeared on CNN, FOX News, and in the Ms. Magazine blog. She is the mom to a 5yo girl and 3yo boy and wants to see some big changes in the children’s marketplace. What originally began in 2009 as an empowering online t-shirt shop for little girls has now grown into a large online boutique that carries goods with the message to Redefine Girly and recognize our girls as “Smart ~ Daring ~ Adventurous”. We also have a line of tees for little boys called Curious Crickets. In 2010 Melissa began the Redefine Girly blog to educate parents on issues of gender stereotypes and sexualization that our children face. The blog and parent community quickly became known as the go-to place for parents to discuss these issues. In 2011 Melissa started presenting Media Literacy workshops for parents and educators helping them to understand how girlhood was changing, and in 2012 you’ll be able to read her book that brings everything full circle. Let’s change the way we think about our girls.
Hope to see you all, Thursday, September 8, at 9pm EST, 8pm CT, 7pm Mountain, and 6pm Pacific! Together; let’s #SaveGirlhood!