If Miley Cyrus really has moved beyond her Disney Hannah Montana persona, into a more adult market (assuming the only music adults are interested in include less clothing, more gyrating and more baffling lyrics - which I'm not convinced is the case) then why are 'tween' magazines still promoting her?
Haven't they heard that she's all grown up now?
Whenever the sexualisation of children is highlighted in media, you can bet there will be comments from people saying "do some parenting! It's up to parents to monitor what their children are watching." The implication of course is that the problem isn't the pervasive nature of magazines, television, music videos etc. The problem is 'lazy parents' who don't monitor what their children are doing.
This is complete rubbish. It is a ploy to minimise the responsibility that media and the broader culture have to protect young people. Further, it is our experience that it is those who are most careful with their children's use of media who are concerned about the sexualisation of children. This is why they are acutely aware of the challenges.
One of those challenges is when products marketed towards children promote the very things parents would wish them to avoid.
Back in March a mother was criticised for taking her 9 year old to a Lady Gaga concert. She was shocked and said she had no idea that the concert would feature video clips of vomiting models, expletives, references to sex and binge drinking. Around the same time, this issue of Girl Power featured Lady Gaga on the cover and devoted a two page spread to her. They promoted her shows, including listing dates and venues.
Where was the criticism for Girl Power? A magazine marketed to girls aged 7-13 years old.
From their website:
Girl Power is the must read magazine for girls aged 7-13. It’s about being everything a girl wants and needs in one magazine. There’s celebrity gossip, fashion, music, movies, gaming and cool DIY guides in every issue. Girl Powerettes are always looking for ways to express themselves and aspire to be cool, glamorous and up to date with the latest trends.
Flicking through this issue, I found it to be a creepy mix of cartoon images and the celebrities you would normally find in NW magazine or Who. There is a focus on shopping, beauty practices, physical appearance and celebrities. The irony is that it's called "Girl Power." Is a Girl's power to be found in make up? Brand label clothes? Gossip? Lady Gaga?
We need to take back childhood from those who profit from it's erosion. Throw away the toxic 'tween' mags and buy your child a good novel. What are some alternatives? Please share your favourite books for kids in the comments below.
UPDATE: Hungry Beast produced a great program about Tween magazines which you can watch here.