Sexualised ads are harming kids

In 2016 advertising agency Badger & Winters made a commitment to never objectify women in their work. Alongside this announcement they also launched their #WomenNotObjects campaign - calling out objectification in advertising, which quickly went global.

This week at Cannes Badger & Winters Chief Creative Officer revealed their latest 'What Our Kids See' video as part of the #WomenNotObjects series. 

The routine sexualisation and objectification of women has very serious consequences on young people. A recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health shows there is a rise in anxiety among young girls with images of women being portrayed as sexualised objects a contributing factor. 

This comes as no surprise when you only have to spend 30 minutes walking through your local shopping centre to see that we are bombarded with a barrage of sexualised advertising. Another study showed that girls as young as six years old wanted to be 'sexy' after being shown two dolls and asked which one they most wanted to be like. 

"Girls overwhelmingly chose the sexualized doll over the non-sexualized doll for their ideal self and as popular"


Another study examined self-objectification, body image disturbance, and eating disorder symptoms in young Australian children.

"Results from over 250 boys and girls aged 6–11 years revealed that young girls report levels of self-objectification that are similar to those observed among older girls and women. Self-objectification was also found to be meaningfully related to body image and eating disturbances in children. A significant proportion of children reported body dissatisfaction and a minority engaged in disordered eating behaviours in the four weeks prior to the assessment. These results suggest that children may be at risk of experiencing the negative psychological outcomes associated with self-objectification."

Collective Shout's co-founder Melinda Tankard Reist often says "It takes a village to raise a child, and the village is toxic".

Collective Shout has screened the film MissRepresentation around the country raising awareness that the media is selling young people the idea that girls’ and women’s value lies in their youth, beauty, and sexuality. The average teen consumes over 10 hours of media per day. We must teach our young people media literacy skills whilst at the same time challenge our advertising industry about the messages they are sending.

  • If you see an ad that objectifies women or sexualises children lodge a complaint with the Advertising Standards Board. 
  • Encourage businesses in your area to sign Collective Shout's Corporate Social Responsibility Pledge
  • Use harmful ads as a teachable moment with young people in your life. Ask the question "Why is that lady naked to sell a handbag?" Media literacy skills are crucial for young people to dissect the toxic messages that popular culture is teaching them. 
  • Be prepared to answer children's questions about media and advertising, like this one asked by a 7 year old girl at David Jones:

"Mum, why is there a photo of weird naked women that look sad in this store?"


  • Share the 'What our kids see' video on social media and encourage friends and family to join the conversation. Come up with strategies to combat sexualised marketing. 
  • Complement young people in your life on their character and attributes rather than appearance. 

At Collective Shout we want to see 'a world free of sexploitation'. We need your help to do this. 


If you would like to make a donation to the work of Collective Shout click here

Further reading: Empowerment, Body Positivity and the Internet

25 Reasons Why Ad Industry Self-Regulation is a Disaster

Sexualisation of little girls linked with negative body image

Self-objectification, body image disturbance, and eating disorder symptoms in young Australian children

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  • Paul Speter
    commented 2016-07-20 17:44:03 +1000
    I think its harmful for everyone; as adults we just don’t see it anymore unless we stop and think about the image before us; such an uphill battle to convince marketers and their clients that its wrong. This sort of imagery is inconsistent with the fight for equality, change attitudes towards domestic violence; decrease sexual harassment and sexual offending. Were more than this, were better than this.
  • Mary Higgins
    commented 2016-06-24 22:56:28 +1000
    There is too much sexuality in commercials and on various ads posters. It is definitely harmful for children. They lose their balance of thoughts when taught one thing yet everyhwere around they can see something else.

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