Are we Setting Our Kids Up for Failure?
I have two BEAUTIFUL teenage kids, Erin (19) and Stuart (17). Although I have my own body image issues, Mark and I have made every effort to raise active, healthy and happy kids. Below is a pictorial timeline of Erin and Stuart as they grew until 2005, when Erin was 13 and Stuart was 12.
I am no prude. As a matter of fact, Stu will probably be the first to tell you that I tend to embarrass him because I have a slightly (he may disagree, saying there isn’t anything ‘slight’ about it) raunchy sense of humour. Mark and I are pretty open about everything, believing that knowledge and proper guidance are the key to effective filtering of the other undesirable influences in our children’s lives such as television, magazines, advertising, modeling and the fashion industry, cosmetics, etc.
The trap for all parents, however, is puberty and the teen years. During these years we found, as I’m sure has been the case with all parents in the past, that Erin and Stu were more concerned about spending time with friends and being cool. This was the vulnerable time. It was then that the values we instilled and the filters we reinforced were most exercised, and it was then that we realized just how right we were to do things the way we did.
It was my children’s own values and filters that have enabled them to filter the sexual images of emaciated young men and women presented in magazines, advertising and television and allow them to affect their own self esteem as little as possible.
When shopping for them as they grew, I was extremely disappointed to find how provocative (and in some cases highly sexualized) the girls’ clothing was. It wasn’t apparent so much for the boys in earlier days, but times are a-changin’ – and not for the better I might add.
The media now places young men (boys) and young women (girls) in similar situations, and markets to them in the same skewed, highly sexualized way.
One example, and indeed the actual one that has prompted me to write this post, is the 2011 fall/winter television advertising campaign of Joe Fresh. When viewing still images of the commercial, you would think I’m crazy to think the way I do. Watch the entire commercial, though, and I’m sure you’ll see how skilled the advertiser has been in sexualizing the images of kids in their clothing strictly by staging, props (or lack of), shooting angles, music and the physical movements and attitudes of the models themselves.
In addition, it can’t be any more clear that the advertiser has chosen to cast extremely emaciated models (both men and women), just one more influence out there to make it difficult for our kids to maintain a health self and body image.
In 2010, I actually liked the Joe Fresh television advertisiing campaign. The commercials were bright and cheerful, featuring young people of relatively normal body types (although some were a little on the thin side) dancing and playing together to light, fresh music.
|These two videos are 2010 fall/winter campaign:|
|These four videos are four of the newer 2011 fall, winter and Christmas campaigns:|
|This fall 2011 commercial features a very good looking, albeit extremely thin young man (boy?). Just take a look at his wrists and tell me that they’re not too thin. I’m sure if the rest of him wasn’t completely covered, we’d be more apt to describe him as ‘skeletal’.||This fall 2011 commercial featuring a couple of toddlers (a boy and a girl) moving about, mugging for the camera, holding hands and canoodling. This is so disturbing to see these toddlers behave in a way usually expected of adults.|