Thursday, April 07, 2011

Plenty of time for adulthood.....

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After The Game - digital illustration

Image Credits: 
 Lewis Hine (figures), Holliewood Studios - baseball, car, Tumble Fish Studio - moon, wing

I hesitated to post this illustration after hearing from a friend about the recent contraversy surrounding a "push up" bikini for  7 - 14 year old girls  - but instead of me paraphrasing the contraversy - I've included below an article/opinion as reported by   Megan Sorokes Olean Times Herald

I endorse her views.

"It started with a teaser for a red and white striped, push-up bikini. It’s that time of year when everyone is starting to think about swimsuit season and preparing for the beach, so of course it makes sense that morning shows would start airing segments about summer apparel and popular trends.

And a red and white striped bikini seems harmless. It’s just another option for the beach … but for 7 to 14-year-old girls?

That’s right, Abercrombie & Fitch did it again. The popular clothing store, known for its racy advertising targeting adults, sparked another debate on appropriate clothing for teenagers and young children, and this time it is outrageous.

Only a few seconds of listening to the news segment on “The Today Show” brought both a spike in my blood pressure and a tear to my eye ... and I don’t even have children. Could they be serious? Why on earth does a 7-year-old girl need a push-up swimsuit? A bikini no less?

And that’s not all. Later this past week, my irritation resurfaced when the same morning show reported that a British beautician who allegedly administers Botox injections to her 8-year-old daughter. While the “The Today Show” questioned the truthfulness of the claim, which originated with a British tabloid, the underlying, blood-boiling issue remained: children are being pressured to grow up too fast and meet unrealistic standards.

I don’t remember every detail of my childhood, but I know for a fact, at the age of 7 or 8, I didn’t worry about my weight, wearing makeup or buying designer clothing. Rather, my greatest concern was whether I could stay up late to watch my favorite show on the Disney Channel, that my Mom stocked the cereal drawer with delicious, sugary cereals for snacks and Saturday morning breakfast — the only time my siblings and I could eat it — and that she washed my favorite jeans.

Life did not revolve around “grown-up” concerns: a scale, a diet, certain sizes, styles or figures, flat-screen TVs and financial success. That came later in high school and college when the doors are supposed to close on childhood and open into learning the adult ropes.

Again, when did the concept of childhood change? It seems as though almost every ounce of innocence that once defined “being a kid” has been drained and depleted. What used to be acceptable behavior for teens and tweens is now becoming prevalent among younger children — acceptable or not.

Boys strive to be tough, macho or athletic, focusing on the behavior of their favorite all-star athletes, who may or may not be positive influences. For young girls, perception depends upon appearance, clothes and popularity with boys as gleaned from actresses, singers and magazine cover models. Yes, even at age 8. It is not uncommon to hear children gushing about boyfriends and girlfriends and it meaning more than pulling hair or teasing during the school day. There is sexual innuendo involved, further revealed by news reports of increased promiscuity among children. Not adults. Not teens. Children. My heart broke when a family member told me about a conversation her young child had with a friend at school involving such activity.
While the media is not entirely accountable for the shift in child and teen behavior, its influence is undeniable. On Saturday, Nickelodeon hosted its 2011 Kids’ Choice Awards, which is targeted toward ages 13-and-under, although anyone can vote. Nevertheless, the nominees for various categories surprised me, though I guess they shouldn’t have. The favorite male singer choices included Justin Beiber, Jay-Z, Bruno Mars and Usher. I fail to see the childhood influence in those options, especially given the language in some of the songs. Granted, I don’t remember what I listened to at that age, but it certainly didn’t have an explicit parental warning.

I fear for children. It’s infuriating to hear a little girl complain about her weight or a boy being picked on for preferring science experiments over sports. As a youngster, adults constantly reminded me to enjoy being a kid and not to grow up too fast. Kids and teens today are under just as much pressure to perform and conform as many adults, and sometimes it seems the time demands and expectations placed on them is just as high.

That’s not childhood, nor is it fair. They deserve that care-free, imaginative period in life. There’s plenty of time for adulthood, for the responsibility, accountability, pressure ... and push-up bikinis."


The Painting Queen said...

Thanks for your thoughts on this subject Trudi. As a grandmother this too bothers me. When my son was young, I always told him to ignore the way women were shown sexually in advertising and that it was just a scam to sell products.

Our consumer driven society always used sex to sell products. It has only grown to now include the younger children who are a major target area of many manufacturers.
Two good documentaries on this subject can be found on You Tube,

"Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood," and the "Merchants Of Cool."

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

From your lips to the ears of God guiding the young parents attempting to raise children who are responsible, sensitive and strong enough to give back to the world. This is a lovely post to read and drink in as I prepare for bed tonight. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen

Cat said...

Great post, Two! Couldn't agree more with the commentary, sad about this kind of thing, tho. Brings to mind those horrid "beauty" contests for children, truly, children don't need make-up or fancy clothes to make themselves beautiful, they have their innocence & joy, that's all they need.

thekathrynwheel said...

Oh yes, I so agree. Children must be allowed to be children for as long as possible but is hard because they are bomabarded from all angles. My husband and I smiled tonight as we looked out into our garden at our daughter ( aged 10 1/2) , still in her school uniform, socks round her ankles, digging in the mud LOL! A very thought provoking post Trudi, Kate x

Terri Kahrs said...

Here, Here, Trudi! I 2nd the motion. The idea of push up bikinis for little ones is appalling. One of my beloved grand daughters will be celebrating her 13th b'day next weekend. I was thrilled to learn that until just a year ago, she secretly played with her American Girl doll. Kids are growing up way too soon and are surrounded (make that bombarded) by sex, adds and grown-up expectations. Hugs, Terri xoxo