The s-xualisation of children — and more specifically, girls — has been a big topic over the last month or so. From the frivolous to the serious, it seems a tipping point has been reached.

Now to work out just what it means.

  • Beyonce’s booty in hot water.

    Parents everywhere — well in the US — were incensed by the ads for pop star Beyonce’s kids range, Dereon (more like Pimp my Kid). The publicity shots had been around for over six months, but there was an inexplicable  resurgence in criticism.

    “What is the next ad going to look like?” asked PopGumbo. “Babies wearing gold metallic bikinis while five-year old boys throw Monopoly money on them. Let our children be damn children at least ’till the age of 8. Then they can worry about bikini waxes and putting out.”

  • Fashion Week comes of age.

    14-year-old Polish model Monika Jagaciak was due to headline at Australian Fashion Week — until controversy about her age forced producers to replace her with Mischa Barton. Fashion Week has put a new rule in place to stem criticism: models must be 16+ — age not size — to participate.

  • Disney#1: Miley’s back.

    Disney star Miley Cyrus — Hannah Montana’s alter ego — is photographed for Vanity Fair by Annie Leibovitz with a shot that sparks furore. Wrapped in a sheet looking mildly dishevelled, Cyrus’s naked back is revealed. (Is anyone else thinking, forget nudity, give the girl a burger?)

    Salon‘s Rebecca Traister nailed the hypocrisy of society’s outcry over the pics: “…come on — in a world in which we market push-up bras (and “Cheetah Girls“!) to preadolescents and ‘tweens, in which Vanity Fair throws naked or lingerie-encased women on its covers whenever possible — are we really so appalled by the sight of a less-clad-than-usual 15-year-old who has already been packaged, marketed and unrelentingly sold, sold and sold to America’s daughters?”

  • Disney#2: Big Trouble in Little China.

    Disney, quick to condemn the Cyrus shots, should probably have checked its own record first.

    Slate burst the bubble: “Staring down at the throngs of shoppers on Beijing’s Xinjiekou Nandajie Avenue, a busy commercial thoroughfare about a mile west of the Forbidden City, was a white girl who looked all of 12, reclining in a matching bra-and-panties set adorned with Disney’s signature mouse-ear design. In a particularly creepy detail, the pigtailed child was playing with a pair of Minnie Mouse hand puppets. In the upper left-hand corner was the familiar script of the Disney logo.”

  • David Jones drops its suit.

    David Jones Limited dropped its landmark case (reported in Crikey) against The Australia Institute and former executive director Clive Hamilton over the institute’s controversial 2006 paper “Corporate paedophilia — s-xualising children by advertising and marketing”, which nominated the company (alongside Myer) as guilty of producing s-xualised images.

  • Growing up S-x and the City: A fizzer of a furore.

    The s-x-peddling show — now on publicity rounds for a new movie — turned one 14-year-old into a hussy, reported America’s ABC News. “Carrie smoked, so I smoked, Samantha looked at hooking up with random people as not a big deal, so that’s what I did too,” said Lisa, now 22. “It wasn’t S-x and the City ‘s fault. I love the show, but I think it made it a little easier to justify my behavior.”

    Lisa is now a Morman whose husband forbade her to watch the show for a year for fear she would slide back into sin. We’re not sure S-x and the City is the problem.

  • Australia’s homegrown controversy.

    Last Thursday, Miranda Devine wrote in horror of the invitation for Bill Henson’s show at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, which “features a large photo of a girl, the light shining on her hair, eyes downcast, dark shadows on her sombre, beautiful face, and the budding breasts of puberty on full display, her hand casually covering her crotch.” A complaint was made to police. They duly seized the pics, sparking the biggest mainstream discussion of art in Australia since… P-ss Christ. As yet, still no resolution to the question: What is art?

Peter Fray

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