Recently, there was a segment on 20/20 on the sexualization of children. The segment provided some good information about why sexualization is a problem. What was missing were any solutions.
Mainstream media seems very interested in using the shock factor of little girls all tarted up to get viewers interested in a story, but often times no actual solutions or suggestions for response are provided. So viewers are left thinking, “That’s terrible!” but also feeling that they have no power to make a difference.
This isn’t true! As consumers, we do have power.
As the Australian group, Collective Shout, has shown recently with their campaign against the store Diva carrying Playboy accessories for young girls and Kmart’s thong underwear for young girls with saying like, “I love Rich Boys,” retailers do eventually respond when there is enough consumer pressure.
They also compiled a “Cross ’em off your list” list that provides consumers with the names of companies that have shown a pattern of sexualizing children so that the customer can avoid purchasing any items from these companies.
Groups here in the US such as SPARK Summit and Powered By Girlprovide regular updates on companies that are sexualizing children and lead the charge for response with things like PBG’s regular ad contest which spoofs the most sexualizing ads.
What I want you to know is that consumers do have power, it’s called our money. We can choose not to support any companies that promote an idea about girls and women that we don’t like. We also have the freedom to call out organizations that are sexualizing children.
We are not powerless!
Want some ideas for things that you can do? Here’s a list to get you started:
- Communicate your concerns: Talk to store managers, call and/or email corporate offices, start or sign a petition that lets retailers and corporations know that you do not support sexualized marketing practices and will take your business elsewhere.
- Take it public: Companies are using public space to sell their sexualized images and narratives, and those of us who don’t like it need to take our argument public. Use the platforms like Change.org, SPARK Summit and PBG, Facebook, and other public forums to let your voice be heard loud and clear. Even the Stick it to ‘Em campaign where you print out or make sticky notes that share your message and then stick them on products at stores make an impact.
- Put your money where your mouth is: Refuse to buy products from stores or companies that promote the sexualization of women and children. It’s that simple. Recently I was involved with a protest against Books-A-Million holding a Playboy magazine signing at our local mall’s bookstore. Even though many of us asked them not to do this, the signing was held. I have committed not to spend one dollar in Books-A-Million for the next year in protest of their actions. It’s the only bookstore in our town and it’s going to be a pain, but I’m going to do it anyway because we MUST use our consumer power where we can to make our point to companies that we WILL NOT buy their products when they do not listen to our concerns.
- Join in Community: Get involved with organizations such as Operation Transformation, SPARK Summit, and PBG that provide a forum for letting your voice be heard. When we raise our voices together, we are more likely to be heard.
It’s time for all of us to work together to say, “no more” to companies who want to make a buck off of the bodies of little girls. It’s not appropriate and it doesn’t promote healthy development.
We are not powerless, let’s stand together and let our voices be heard.
By Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker, Guest writer