Family First NZ says that the protection of our children must come before the commercial exploitation of them, and are calling for proposed child beauty pageants to be scrapped, and parents to boycott any companies associated with them.
“There are no redeeming factors about the proposed child beauty pageants where little girls are judged using adult measures of so-called ‘beauty’, and where they receive the message that their value is in their appearance and sexualised standards,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
A recent report by the American Psychological Association points to the dangers when sexualisation leads to girls
viewing themselves as objects and having an unhealthy preoccupation with appearance. The pressure can lead to depression, self-harm, anxiety, eating disorders, and poor academic performance. The message for boys is to be sexually dominant, aggressive, and to objectify the female body.
The Australian Childhood Foundation released a report in Apr 2007 which showed that problem sexual behaviour in children as young as six often appears to be influenced by sex imagery in the media.
As prominent Australian psychologist Steve Biddulph said, “…smarter parents protect their kids, but as the media environment and the shopping malls deteriorate, the kids with not very bright parents have their mental healthy and sexual health degraded.”
“When you combine the prospect of child beauty pageants with the recent marketing of sexualised shirts by Cotton On Kids to be worn by babies, the provocative Little Losers line targeted at young teenagers by clothing store Jay Jays, sexually charged billboard advertising in public places, and graphic sexual music videos, dolls, and tween magazines and websites which encourage young people to look older and act sexier, it shows we must do much more to protect our children from ‘corporate paedophilia’ and the ‘raunch culture’,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“A premature interest in a sexy appearance, an obsession about body image for a five year old, and an undermining of the social prohibition against seeing children as sexual objects and sexually attractive, are all huge warning flags that child beauty pageant profits are currently more important than protecting the wellbeing of our children.”