Media Reporting Body Image

I’ve had an interesting week or so reading various body image related stories in various media and a few have really stuck in my mind where they’re stewing. Could be of course that I see things through a body image related lens, but I figure it’s better than a body hating lens 🙂

Though in reality, they’re all the result of the body-hating lens so tightly focussed on women – anyhoo see what you think, maybe I’m just over-reacting? I’m so steamed up that I can hardly think clearly, actually….

Women, Alcohol and Sex

The first thing I came across was an older article – found a link somewhere, you know how it goes – about research done with around 3000 women around alcohol and sex. Specifically, most women seem to need to be at least partly tanked before they’ll have sex, even with their husbands.

The reason most gave is that the booze helps them relax around how they think their hubby feels about their bodies.

How Young is Too Young for Botox?

The second thing was the incredibly sad story of the mother of an eight year old who enters her daughter in those kiddy pageants – she expects her daughter to become an actress or model when she’s older.

To help her ‘prevent wrinkles’ the mother – a trained beautician – gives her ‘virgin waxes’ to stop that nasty hair growing where the beauty industry says we women don’t want it, and……….. botox injections to prevent wrinkles.

And the worst thing, like inflicting pain by ripping hairs out of all that tender skin and injecting your child with poison are not enough all on their own, is that she says ‘everyone is doing it’.

Are you still with me? Still breathing? Or am I hyperventilating and spluttering all by myself?

How Young Is Too Young For Push-Up Bras?

The third thing was that a US retailer is advertising it’s northern summer swimwear line, including for kids, and one of their offerings is – wait for it – a padded push up triangle bikini for seven year old girls.

It’s a few days since I read that and it still pushes chills up and down my body.

WHAT are Abercrombie THINKING???

In what WAY is it okay to put a padded push up ANYTHING on a seven year old child?

To me that verges on criminal and I’d be seriously questioning either the motivation or sanity or both, of the store’s buyers.

Are they paedophiles, or do they just see the true value of women as sexual only or are they like the mother mentioned above, or just thoughtless and seeing the bikinis as a dressup?

How Young is Too Young To Diet?

The fourth thing was the recent study which revealed that 14% of five year old girls are dieting.

5 year olds.

Dieting.

See, they don’t belong in the same sentence, like oil and water, it’s surely not possible that they can mix?

And 14% is a significant number.

Not as significant as the fact that half of all 9 years old girls diet.

EIGHTY percent of ten year olds diet.

And NINETY percent of girls in high school diet regularly, and only 20% of those have BMIs that anyone might care about.

That Was The Week….

That’s just a snapshot from one single week, one single woman’s reading of the media.

I’m sure there’s a LOT more out there that I didn’t read.

So – do you think I’m just over-reacting when I say our children are suffering unbelievably, are showing the damage we never knew would happen, when we started down the path of this painful body obsession?

Consider that 42% of girls in grades 1 – 3 would like to be thinner than they are.

Why?

Because they already have picked up from the world around them that thin or thinner than thin, is the most important thing a woman must aspire to achieve. We’re barely conscious that we’re a separate being in Grade 1, our brains are still in wide-open theta state, ready to be programmed with all these body-changing messages, and programmed we are being!

This is tragic.

Our great-grandmothers who fought so hard for us to be able to own property, earn and keep money doing honest work of our choice, have rights over our children and our own bodies, would be weeping in their graves.

The next time you see something that is outrageous that will damage our kids, consider that someone – maybe you – needs to say something about.

The sex-alcohol article is here, the 8 year old botox is here, the push up bikini info is here, and the stats on dieting are here.

And if you want to improve your own body image, consider the body image course on this site. I know one woman at a time we can change this…..

16 Comments

  1. Friederike on March 29, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I really don’t think you are overreacting. Reading things like this really sends shivers down my back – in a bad way.

    • Sandy on March 29, 2011 at 10:09 am

      @Friederike, thanks 🙂 Yes, not great experiences for anyone 🙁

  2. Karen on March 29, 2011 at 9:03 am

    I’m fascinated by how unaware we are of how deeply affected humans are by environmental cues.

    Most people I discuss this with will (contemptuously) tell me that “no-one does something just because an ad or a film tells them to unless they’re really stupid or have something wrong with them”, while every psychological study on how what we see, feel, touch, taste, smell and hear affects decision making shows that we’re in a constant state of reaction.

    We’re afraid of being out of control. There’s so much contempt for people who admit to being affected by others because we’re given messages about being “rational” and “independent” (read: socially normative, creatively blocked, fitting into the systems of “harsh reality” which harm everyone) as moral virtues. We’ve mistaken fitting in for strength of character and made it a moral issue, and moral issues are usually processed through fear.

    Accepting that we are complex organisms with complex relationships with our surroundings is not to make us less “special” than other animals, but to place us in context; it does not make us over-sensitive or over-dramatic, it makes us sensible to what is happening; it does not make us weak, it makes us more competent at navigating our lives.

    The irony is that the more we claim we don’t need to think these things through and that people who do have problems (no sense of humour, weak characters, unrealistic, unable to cope) are the very people placing themselves in the weakest position to help themselves.

    • Sandy on March 29, 2011 at 10:12 am

      @Karen, I think another factor is that people don’t want to be seen somehow as ‘anti-sex’ or sexually repressed and open to some kind of ridicule. As though ensuring our kids have age-appropriate experiences will lead to sexual insecurity. Instead, research tells us that sexual insecurity complete with long term anxiety, lowered self esteem and depression are proven results of this early sexualisation.

      I can’t help but feel hugely concerned for young Brittney’s future….

  3. Joyce on March 29, 2011 at 9:21 am

    we in the U.K had the padded push up triangle bikini in some of our stores but with presser form the general public we got them taken out of the stores with an apology from the owners of the stores.

    • Sandy on March 29, 2011 at 10:05 am

      @Joyce, good on you! I have to wonder at the reasons that the people who 1. design this stuff and 2. put it in the shops 3. buy it – have for thinking it’s appropriate in any way….. it just leaves me gobsmacked, frankly!

  4. Pete on March 29, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I find the entire thing shocking and horrifying.
    A mother having her daughter with Botox and waxing her as well!! this should be absolutely Illegal.
    The woman should be prosecuted for child abuse for all the damage that she is causing her now and in the future.
    I will not comment on the other articles as this reply is going to look like a book..
    But the attitude of these articles is demeaning to women/girls and only encourages more of the same as it comes over as “quite normal” to think most women must drink alcohol in order to enjoy sex because of their self image.
    The other articles were just as saddening.

    I do not think you were over reacting…

    • Sandy on March 29, 2011 at 8:55 pm

      @Pete, thank you – I agree with you that this mother is abusing her daughter. Botox is poison, I’ve blogged about it before, and the long term effects on the muscles of the face as devastating – think how muscles waste on a limb when the bone is broken and put into a cast for months. Paralysed inert muscles waste. What will this little girl look like in years to come, when the muscles of her face have not grown and developed the way they should have because this toxin interfered with that growth. it makes me shiver….

  5. Mary on March 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    I didn’t read all of the articles, but just your overview was enough. A sad commentary on society and how we / others perceive ourselves and others.
    Thanks for your comments, Sandy.

    • Sandy on March 29, 2011 at 7:54 pm

      Mary, yep……. I also know though that the old saw is true: to change the world, we first change ourselves… I do have significant hope 🙂

  6. Robin McCormick on March 29, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    No overreaction at all. Scary, scary stuff for sure. Thank you for sharing.

    • Sandy on March 29, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      @Robin McCormick, thanks Robin, I appreciate your support, and knowing I’m not alone in this!

  7. Janine Lattimore on March 29, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I share your heart Sandy and find the sexualisation of children particularly disturbing. I have a 5 year old daughter. While both of us like being ‘girly’ sometimes and getting dressed up, I balance that with a get out and enjoy life with your hands (and clothes) dirty attitude. I want to allow my daughter to enjoy being a child for as long as possible – it is such an important phase and yet it goes so quickly. For anyone with a daughter I highly recommend Ian and Mary Grant’s book Growing Great Girls.

    I also have a 12 year old god-daughter that I am very close with. She is just entering the body awareness phase – the ‘I’m fat’, ‘I need to get rid of my dark facial hair’ stage. The challenge with her is helping her find the balance between making the most of her personal presentation but in a way that cares for her body and comes from a belief in her self-worth that is separate from how she looks.

    I’m not anti physical beauty. I might be brain washed but I feel good when I feel physically attractive. I think it is human nature, and often animal nature, to preen and decorate ourselves. Humans have always adorned themselves with body paint, necklaces, hair braiding etc. I think that it is something innate in us. And western culture is not the only one inflicting pain in the name of beauty – what about the chinese breaking young girls feet so that they grew smaller and african cultures that stretch girls necks with gold rings?However, I think that the media over-emphasises and sexualises this innate desire.

    I always come back to balance. I like wearing make-up and having my eyebrows waxed and my legs shaved (and no panty-line showing :), but I also believe that it is just as important to know and like myself on a soul level irrelevant of my ugly teeth and small bust size. Our operating foundation needs to be self-love not the image in the mirror.

    • Sandy on March 29, 2011 at 9:56 pm

      @Janine Lattimore, I’m not anti physical beauty either. I just don’t think that the way to beauty is by cutting our bodies, injecting toxins, nor teaching 8 year old girls that waxing = acceptable woman. I know we women like things around us that as pretty, soft, smell and feel good, it’s part of being female. Is that programmed into us? Dunno. But I’m really anti programming our kids that their value lies in their looks. I get that you’re taking a different approach with your daughter, I remember 12 with my daughters, it’s wonderful and awful, and I don’t enby you 😀

  8. alana on March 30, 2011 at 4:41 am

    you’re not over-reacting at all – all topics based around very under-age kids having older people’s ideas projected onto them. outrageous and backward. abuse is often subtle and hidden. this stuff is hiding in plain sight – it’s unnoticed cause it’s so loud and garish – pageant stuff that is. the message to the kids (girls) is “you’re not acceptable as you are, you will be in the future. you should be something other than what you are right now. your natural state needs to be changed”.
    sick, twisted, under the guise of beauty, under the guise of fun and talent, under the guise of dress-up. be appalled.
    when was 15 around 1980, we girls were pressured with media images and such, which follow us generally for the rest of our lives; around age 20 i had hoped that the problem would’ve been recognized and the pressure would be off and that natural diverse beauty would be championed and appreciated, even revered. crap i was so wrong – the problem is still present but worse and starts with seven-year-olds.

    • Sandy on March 30, 2011 at 7:37 pm

      Alana, agree! Did you see that Australia is to host the frankensteinian kiddie pageant queen in Melbourne in June? Was in the Courier yesterday – good grief……. the US exports a lot of great stuff, but by God no one needs that stuf….

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