Girls, Young Women and Self-image vs Sexualised-image

Self-image vs Sexualised-image
Self-image vs Sexualised-image

This is an excellent post I saw from the the Voices of Youth website which I have recently joined. It’s a site for the youth and it is affiliated to UNICEF. My account there is this.

An article posted by Erin entitled ” Teens Shout Out against Sexploitation” reads as:

Recently I spent some time with a group of girls in Year 11 who are just bursting with life and hope for a brilliant future. I am amazed at the vision of teens. These girls are thinking about how they can be involved in humanitarian pursuits by helping orphans and women in the sex trades or by enlightening their peers about the culture they are immersed. This culture which ‘sexploits’ women and children and normalises raunchy or pornographic sexual themes, hence impacting on their mental well being and those of their friends. This type of teen worldview is confirmed by ‘The National Survey of Young Australians 2010’ (in which 50,240 young people aged 11 to 24 participated). This survey found that the top issue of personal concern was body image!

A gorgeous girl in the group alerted me to the Diesel website with adverts for their ‘Intimates’ lingerie collection. She said she had been looking at clothing sites and was highly offended by this website and the messages it portrayed. Her words to me were, “This is just soft porn!” The girls were appalled and said they would now ‘feel uncomfortable’ even wearing that label, knowing that this was how Diesel (a brand that teens love) used women and sex to sell their clothes. I was so proud of these young girls who just GOT how wrong this was, on so many levels! The underwear says things like, ‘Today I am your school teacher’, ‘Tonight I am your student’ or ‘Tonight I am your nurse’ and ‘Today I am your police woman’ complete with handcuff logo. These adverts normalise sex with minors by using teacher-student sex themes, exhibitionism, porn style sex themes and also portray women as being completely objectified and nothing more than being ‘there’ for men’s pleasure as sex objects.

Talking with these girls, who had not previously heard about Collective Shout, some mentioned how they had already gone on their own rampages in their communities and voiced their frustration at the images they were being exposed to, that had sexualised themes.

The girls spoke about their frustration that even if they looked away, the images were seared into their minds or those of their boyfriends and questioned how that was meant to be free choice? They also related how their boyfriends felt frustrated about the manner in which women were portrayed in the media and said that they had to fight the war in their own minds, not to look at the their girlfriends in the same way.

One of the girls had previously taken on an ad company at her bus shelter about inappropriate images, which she saw young children standing looking at. She told them in her letter of complaint that she was a student and felt offended by the images. They removed it! – Go Girl Power! This same teenage girl also mentioned that when she and her sister were purchasing something at a newsagent, they told the seller that they would not make their purchase until he moved the Ralph and Zoo magazines away from the Dora the Explorer colouring books. She told me that he just laughed at them and so they did not make their purchase there.

It was taken from “Self-image vs Sexualised-image” which has some interesting points:

How are self-image and sexualised-image related?
Due to the fact that young people are undergoing major changes in their lives as they prepare for adulthood, their self-worth can often be shaky. Papadopoulos found that core cognitive learning and developmental theories demonstrate that children learn vicariously from what they see, and that exposure to themes which a child is not developmentally ready to cope with can have a detrimental effect.
Thus, “As children grow older, exposure to this imagery leads to body surveillance, or the constant monitoring of personal appearance. This monitoring can result in body dissatisfaction, a recognised risk factor for poor self-esteem, depression and eating disorders. Indeed, there is a significant amount of evidence that attests to the negative effects of sexualisation on young people in terms of mental and physical health, attitudes and beliefs.”
She also goes on to say that the, “hyper-sexualisation and objectification of girls on the one hand and hypermasculinisation of boys on the other perpetuate and reinforce each other. In some ways, the messages we are sending out to boys are just as limiting and restrictive. Repeated exposure to genderstereotypical ideas and images contributes to sexist attitudes and beliefs; sexual harassment; violence against women; and stereotyped perceptions of, and behaviour toward, men and women.
Emma Rush also lists the following risks found for young people:
•          Increased body dissatisfaction
•          Development of eating disorders at a younger age
•          Increased self-objectification
•          Disruption to healthy psychological development
•          Contribution to increasing child abuse

Read the whole article here. Thank you.

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