I was absolutely thrilled to read about this today. It gives me hope for my kids’ future. Victoria’s Secret model Kylie Bissuti has decided to stop modeling for the company because she wants to honor her husband and God with her body and be a better role model to those who look up to her. What sparked her change of heart was a comment made by her eight year old cousin: “I think I want to stop eating so I can look like you.” Now Kylie is encouraging young women to reject some of the false messages that she was receiving. Yay Kylie!
Victoria’s Secret has always been at the top of my “Really Don’t Like List.” It’s one thing to display racy photos inside the store, but Victoria’s Secret hangs them up right in the front window, with no care in the world who might see. It breaks my heart to see people at the mall walking by the almost pornographic picture as if it’s no big deal. All the while, their children are studying it. Maybe they don’t realize or maybe they don’t think it’s that big of a deal. But it is a very big deal. Every time a little girl sees a picture like that it adds to the millions of messages she’s already receiving from the media about what it takes for her to be attractive. According to the National Institute on Media and Family, "A child's body image is influenced by how people around her react to her body and how she looks. A pre-adolescent becomes increasingly aware of what society's standards are for the ‘ideal body.’" Little girls have a need to be attractive and captivating, and when men gawk over a racy photo of a woman, girls quickly learn what they need to look like to get that attention. When they can’t look enough like the ideal body, it leads to low self-esteem, depression, and eating disorders.
But girls are not the only ones harmed by the media. Every time a little boy sees a racy photo it gives him a false expectation of what his future wife should look like. Not to be so explicit, but researchers are finding that pornography ruins a man’s sex life by dulling his ability to please and be pleased by his spouse. I believe that this soft-porn that boys are growing up with on a daily basis has the same effect. Boys have this idea of what women should look like, and then reality hits…women don’t look like that. I just pray that my daughter’s future spouse has good parents who are trying their best to shield their son from the media’s influences.
Let’s try a quick exercise. I want you to close your eyes and pretend that women are no longer the ones being objectified by society. Now, we are objectifying men. Almost every clothing store you walk in displays multiple pictures of muscular men wearing only tight underwear. Almost all of the magazines at the checkout line have pictures of men wearing next to nothing, looking seductive. There might be one picture of a woman on a magazine but the majority are men. Then, you go home and turn on the TV and most of the commercials portray a man acting either seductively or dumb (or both). You accidentally turn the channel to MTV and see a music video with men dancing quite suggestively behind a fully-dressed female singer. Then you get on your computer to search for a picture for your blog and just about many of the pictures you come across is a sexual picture of a man. Quite a culture shift huh?! We don’t even realize how much society objectifies women because we’ve grown up with it and we’re just so used to it.
I want to encourage parents out there to make a big deal of things that you may not have noticed before. Complain about the magazines you find distasteful. Complain to the mall manager about the giant Victoria’s Secret photo or the picture of two naked teens making out on a Hollister bag (these are all things I have complained about). Sometimes you will get an immediate apology and they will take action. Other times they will look at you like you're a freak. Oh well. These are our kids. I also encourage you to join One Million Moms, which is free. They send you email alerts about a certain target (TV network, sponsor, station), giving you a link to take action. The organization has had amazing success getting trash off of TV, like The Playboy Club and Skins. Another great organization is the Parents Television Council. It’s free to join as well. Their goal is to arm parents with the tools they need to make informed decisions about television viewing. Please take one minute of your time and join these two organizations. You won’t regret it!