A common moral panic that exists in today’s society is the allegation that the media is sexualising children. Society is putting the media at blame for the commercial exploitation of children and the sexualisation of images of young children, in catalogues, magazines, television shows and movies. The panics that are arising, develop from the issues of children being dressed in inappropriate clothing for their age, children being photographed in ‘adult’ poses and images of children containing sexual connotations.
One example of how the media is alleged to sexualise children is Toddlers and Tiaras, an American reality television show that “showcases the competitive world of child pageants, as three families have their children judged on beauty, personality and costumes.” Take a look at this video, a scene from an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras whilst keeping in mind how to media is blamed for the sexual exploitation of children.
After watching this video, do you really think it’s the media’s fault for the appearances and actions of these little girls? It seems to me that the parents are forcing the children to participate in these pageants, dolling them up to the nines, covering them with makeup to match their spray-tanned bodies, gluing in hair extensions, forcing the youngsters to sit still in a chair whilst their innocent baby faces are transformed into that of a 20-something-year-old. Seriously, these are children under the age of 5 we are talking about… So is the media the cause of the sexualisation and exploitation of these children? I think not. Who is really to blame here appears to be the mothers of the children in the pageants.
Children learn how to behave through the actions of adults. Little girls learn how to grow into adults by viewing how their mothers and other female adults behave. If the children grow up in an environment like the one depicted in Toddlers and Tiaras, covering up their natural appearances with everything from fake tans to fake teeth, they will be brought up believing this is a normal thing for females to partake in. Their sexualised exteriors will continue to unfold during their childhood as this is the way they have been taught to behave.
Every little girl loves to play dress ups and wear make-up and high heels. But is Toddlers and Tiaras just taking it too far? Or is the parents of the children who are the ones taking it too far. In this case, I believe it’s the latter. Society is blaming the media for media for the social panic of sexualising children, however in some scenarios, the problem evolves from somewhere a little bit closer to home, that being the very own homes of these children.
Sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture, take a step back and think outside the box. Society is constantly accusing society of creating moral panics, but are they always the ones at fault?
Think about it.
(Image via: pinterest.com)