Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

10 year old girl responds to sexualized media and marketing: Girls these days

As I was working with some tween girls to develop critical media literacy, we decided to make our own media to share our thoughts on sexualized media and marketing. I wanted to share one of the products with you. One 10-year-old girl made this Powerpoint slide show. She used media and marketing photos that she found online, and then added her own commentary. This is a fun, simple activity that you can do with the kids in your life to help them think about the images that they are seeing everyday.

Remember, the key to these media literacy activities that build a child’s critical skills is to make it fun, allow the child to actively process and comment on what they’re seeing, and then create their own product to express their thoughts about it. Think about ways you might use the programs that you may have on your own home computer to open up conversations with your kids and allow them to create their own work. This girl’s parting words: Consider this, and thank you for your time.

Girls these days

5 comments on “10 year old girl responds to sexualized media and marketing: Girls these days

  1. Jessica
    May 22, 2012

    Clearly, the message that we need to send to our children is that it is not okay for children to be portrayed in the media as adults. I really don’t find the other pictures of the girls without makeup disturbing in the way that I find the ones of the girl all made up with heels. The message in those circumstances is not that the bikini is too small for her because it isn’t,it fits her body type appropriately, but that you need to be skinny to be pretty. I would expect to find a picture like that in a catalog. The other one is tasteful but still should not be utilized to sell. In Europe, the beaches are filled with naked bodies of all sizes and shapes, boys, girls, men and women.Personally, I don’t want to go back to the thinking of the early 1900s nor do I want my daughter to grow up in a world that still calls girls names like “slut, whore, skank”. The media will not go away but we can properly educate our children as to what is appropriate and inappropriate as it relates to children in media. I think that we have a huge hurdle ahead of us when very little is being done to stop this type of advertising. In addition, little is being done to stop shows like ‘Toddlers and Tiarras’ from being aired. It isn’t like TLC is portraying it as wrong even though we look at these people like it is. They are making huge money off of these children in the same way that their parents are doing.

    • fitvsfiction
      May 22, 2012

      I agree Jessica…we don’t want our girls growing up too quickly by feeling like they need to wear “adult” clothes, but we also don’t want them to feel like they have to be completely covered up in order to expect to be treated with respect. The picture of the little girl in the bikini looked fine, the problem would be if she ONLY felt good about herself when wearing a little bikini. The other pictures were disturbing because it seemed like the model was trying to be sexy and there’s nothing okay about a little girl being told to be sexy for the camera.

      Toddler & Tiaras is infuriating because it dresses little girls up like adults and has them compete against eachother. For money. It must be incredibly confusing for them. How can they feel free to be little girls when so much time, effort and money is put towards making them look like grown ups?

      I’d love some one on one time with some of those mothers….

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      May 22, 2012

      Thanks for the comment Jessica. Since this is a media literacy activity, the child herself chose the photos that she found offensive. So, the key to understanding her perspective would be to spend some time asking her about each photo. As a part of this activity, we would share our products and then talk them through. So I would say, “Tell me about this picture, why did you choose it?” For this girl in particular, the bikini photo made her feel that even little girls were being encouraged to be “sexy” rather than wearing a suit that is easy to play in. Funnily enough, this girl has spent significant time in Europe where people often swim or sunbathe naked. Although we didn’t talk about that directly in this discussion, I suspect she would have said that nudity in that context wasn’t sexualized at all, whereas a bikini that she saw as promoting the idea of “sexiness” for children was. Other kids may focus on the thin ideal, as you pointed out. The key is really to get them talking about their own feelings and perspectives and allow them the chance to process the media actively.

      Oh, Toddlers and Tiaras, that’s a whole separate blog post!

  2. fitvsfiction
    May 22, 2012

    Amazing. Kids are so much smarter than we give them credit for…it’s parents that need to smarten up.

  3. Great idea and I think the video could provide a great discussion point for you and your daughter to have

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