Monday, April 14, 2008

Um, What?

Heather Parfitt, Managing Editor of New Moon magazine forwarded me a story today about the U.K. marketing of bras to girls as young as 7. The bras in this article are padded bras with plunging decolletage, not soft "starter bras"

My reaction was to see if/how bras are being marketed to girls that young in the U.S. A quick click on the "Girls Bras" ad-link at the end of the article netted an entire page of links, including Young Girls' Bras at Jockey, which start with a child's size 7. GapKids, Target, Maidenform, Vassarette, and Nordstrom's were also listed on the girls bras page of shopzilla. (Ironic name, eh?)

Now I can understand a young girl wanting to occasionally pretend to be older and more grown up, and enjoying playing dress up with her mom's & aunts' old clothes. That's creative and healthy. But the bras being marketed in sizes for very young girls are intended to be worn as daily underwear, like the undershirts often displayed on the same page.

That's real-life sexualization, not make-believe play. And it's not the least bit healthy for girls before puberty to get the message that they need to or should wear a bra on a daily basis, especially not a padded bra designed to look sexy. In fact, the American Psychological Association issued a report of its Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls last year and found that existing research points to many negative effects of sexualization in childhood.

From the report:

Research evidence shows that the sexualization of girls negatively affects girls and young women across a variety of health domains:

  • Cognitive and Emotional Consequences: Sexualization and objectification undermine a person’s confidence in and comfort with her own body, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety.
  • Mental and Physical Health: Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood.
  • Sexual Development: Research suggests that the sexualization of girls has negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.

The good news is that we parents hold many of the keys to helping our daughters resist the harmful effects of childhood sexualization. Check out the report and tell me what you think by clicking on the comment link.

1 comment:

Shaping Youth said...

Hey Nancy, speaking of 'um, what?' check out Shaping Youth on "Mamma's got a brand new Face. Belly. about the children's book being marketed to explain plastic surgery to wee ones.

Blog fodder for sure...we deconstructed from a media literacy standpoint too. Haven't forgotten the two-part post on New Moon Girl Media, just keep getting 'breaking news' that bounces the deadline back. It's a comin'!