Skip to comments.American Girlhood Lost to Marketers
Posted on 08/26/2009 4:34:06 AM PDT by Kaslin
I finally had to sit down with my 11-year-old daughter for the talk. Despite my best efforts to preserve her innocence and protect her from growing up too quickly, I simply had to tell her some important facts of life.
No, we didnt have a talk about how babies are born. This talk was about Americas assault on girlhood. The time finally came for me to explain to my daughter the relationship between media and marketing and money, and why some people think nothing of exploiting girls if it increases their ratings, sells advertising and beefs up the bottom line.
Its a conversation I wish I could have avoided, but unfortunately Miley Cyrus recent performance at the Teen Choice Awards forced my parental hand. And anyway, Im not one to waste a teachable moment.
If you dont know, Ms. Cyrus made headlines for her performance of a poll dance during the telecast of the Teen Choice Awards, one of those faux awards shows designed to sell commercials to corporate sponsors who want more opportunities to reach Americas children. The awards themselves are simply popularity contests to determine teenagers favorite singers, movie stars, athletes, deranged, drug-addicted celebrities you get the drift.
So with her mom and dad proudly smiling from the first row, Ms. Cyrus slithered and slinked her way onto the stage followed by a gyrating band of back-up dancers and then bumped and grinded her way through a forgettable pop tune.
Ah, Miley Cyrus poster child for the assault on American girlhood.
Sadly, Ms. Cyrus thinks she was exerting her adulthood and simply exuding the natural sexuality that emerges when one reaches the ripe old age of 16.
In truth, Ms. Cyrus is a pawn in a high stakes game of manipulation in which a bunch of rich, middle-aged men (read: Disney) reap the financial rewards of exploitation. After all, its her Disney job starring in the hit series Hannah Montana that creates the platform for the rest of her burgeoning career.
This is not an anti-corporate rant. I dont believe morality in capitalism is the responsibility of the seller. In a free society, it is we buyers who hold the power of our purse strings. The only reason Miley and her ilk make money and headlines is because were out there as a culture buying all the Hannah Montana hype we can fit into a shopping cart full of school supplies.
Still, its a only determined parent who can preserve her daughters innocence in a media saturated world where people like Ms. Cyrus are idolized. If only she were the only issue.
Sadly, girls hear a drumbeat of vapid, shallow, hyper-sexual messages at every turn. Worse, marketers are skilled at finding ways to instill these values in our young girls because face it, insecurity sells product.
For example, this fall Nintendo will release a new game for its DS system called The Clique: Diss and Make Up based on the pathetically popular Clique books by Lisi Harrison. According to a press release for the game, players assume the role of the new girl at school, taking on the challenges of climbing the social ladder to join the ultimate clique, the Pretty Committee [it] is a game of social maneuvering where the player attempts to survive in one of the most harsh and unforgiving environments on Earth - Octavian Country Day School (OCD).
From stiletto crib shoes to padded trainer bras, our culture is steadily eliminating a wholesome, innocent girlhood in favor of a perpetual state of tween -- a term that refers to the years between 8 and 13 (a period of time formerly known as childhood.)
Americas girls deserve better.
you should have made it into an anti-media, anti-hollywood, anti-celebrity rant, not anti-corporate
Jeez Marybeth, what took you so long? I am teaching my seven and four year old sons the evils of advertising now so they don’t fall into the trap.
Uh, maybe it's because the corporations are behind the advertising and product development that she refers to.
Yes, but are you making sure she never sees anyone smoking?!
Well said, very well said. My daughter is now 16. I had to have similar talks with her at age 9 or 10. I feel for these kids. Between vulgar rap lyrics, MTV and the ever earlier sexualization of our children via the Britneys, Lindseys and now Mileys, having an innocent childhood becomes a greater and greater challenge.
I do recall a ouple years ago seeing the ‘fashions’ that were supposed to be the latst schoolwear. Trampy, cheap duds. I also remember most parents boycotting these and putting pressure on the schools to enforce dress codes. This is a fight we can’t afford to lose.
blame the media and corporations all you want, crappy parenting is the problem. Saying “NO” to children won’t damage them.
Homeschool and chuck the tv out. Get them involved in your churches youth group. Provide good information for them to read, like lives of the saints, and founding fathers, as well as info about their heritage. Do this from a very young age and it becomes the norm.
It will take an entire generation of a boatload of conservatives to right the ship, don’t squander the opportunity. If my kids were little today, this is the path I would choose.
I did ok with mine, youngest is homeschooled (15), oldest is a conservative practicing catholic, and middle is going to seminary next fall, but I don’t know if I would have had the same result in todays school system with the influences in society that are out there now. Dont take chances folks, homeschool those kids, and make sure they get the information needed to make good decisions. The schools and society are battling for the hearts and minds of your kids, it is up to YOU to keep them.......
Uh, “poll dance?”
I saw a girl in the super market the other night in total hooker wear. I know, it’s old news by now, but it still amazes me. I mean, it might as well have been a streetwalker halloween costume. Extreme short skirt, boots, belly shirt. I did a double take. And yep, the girl looked to be 11 or 12.
OTOH, B.O. will need to perform one of these for the state media if his numbers keeping trending south.
LOL! I was about to post that she meant “pole dance” then it occurred to me that perhaps poll dance worked almost as well. Sigh.
“blame the media and corporations all you want, crappy parenting is the problem. Saying NO to children wont damage them.”
Your attitude is non-traditional. Shepherds are responsible for the sheep but it is easier to watch the sheep in a field that is not so crowded with wolves. Shepherds should band together to chase off the wolves.
My DD and I had the same discussion. She’s building a “time capsule” had already decided to ditch the Miley posters on her wall. “She’s not a good role model for my kids”..LOL!
Have you had them watch Veggie Tales’ “Madam Blueberry”?
It’s a great lesson on not coveting and the way that advertisers and marketers prey on that sin.
Be sure to watch it with them and talk to them afterwards.
LOL! Help yourself to a Guinness!
The discussion on this issue made me think of Pope Benedict’s recent encyclical. Yes, people have the legal and moral freedom to sell and buy, to advertise and entertain. No system other than a free market is as successful at meeting people’s legitimate needs and reasonable wants.
However, the better, more moral, choice by sellers would to NOT sell sex to children, or use “sexy” children to sell products. The better, more moral, choice by consumers would be to reject this type of commercial activity. The better choice by parents would be to practice virtue themselves and train their children to do the same.
We love "Veggie Tales". "Lyle the Kindly Viking" is one of our favorites. I'll have to see if we have "Madam Blueberry". Thanks.