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How do we address the Celebrity Hypersexualisation of children?
The impact of celebrity hypersexualisation of children, on traditional media such as T.V. and music videos is nothing new. However, social media platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram are introducing children to celebrity hypersexualised content, at younger and younger ages. Some parents are beginning to voice their disgust at the celebrity content their children are being exposed to online. Unfortunately, the majority of parents are completely ignorant to the self-generated sexualised celebrity content their children are accessing.
Celebrities are creating the problem
Today the Daily Mail carried a story about celebrities sharing completely naked images of themselves on Social Media. “Are you a Nudie or a Purdie?”, featured Ulrika Jonsson, Kelly Brooke, Lilly Allen, Rita Ora, Liz Hurley, and Heidi Klum. All were sharing completely naked images of themselves posted on their Social Media accounts. The message in the news article is essentially, “British people are too prudish and should not be ashamed of their bodies”. “Stripping off is liberating, and everybody should do it”.
Is Unicef OK with this?
You have to wonder is this just all despirate negative attention seeking by celebrities. Imagine if Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, or Brian Blessed posted the same images of themselves, with the same message on social media? What reaction would the public have? Would it even be considered a responsible act by people of influence? It's become so normalized to see females from all of the celebrity classes, appear completely naked now in the media, most people don't even blink an eye. However, once celebrity, Rita Ora that is featured in the article, is a Unicef-UK Ambassador. Surely sharing self-generated sexualized content on Social Media, is contrary to the attempts by Unicef to address the online sexual exploitation of children.
Sexually Oppressive Headlines
“Flaunts Cleavage”. “Puts on leggy display”. “Shows off sizzling curves”. “Jaw dropping figure”. “Flaunts her body”. “Dares to bear”. “Shows off her derriere and side boob”. These are the headlines that describe the sexualized images and media discourse relating to female celebrities. Obviously, many are forced to push to this extreme in order to remain in the public spotlight. But what level of consideration, is afforded to the children who are constantly exposed to this? What message are celebrities conveying to them?
Children are susceptible
Children are very susceptible to the influence of traditional media. Even more so, with Social Media. So how do we protect children from hypersexualisation and pornification by despirate celebrities? The task is becoming increasingly more difficult. Worse, the number of children who frequently share sexualized content of themselves, is increasing exponentially. Interestingly, Ulrika Jonsson's 19 year old daughter Bo, contacted her immediately after she posted the naked image of herself online. She begged her mother to take the image down immediately. Ulrika refused.
A matter of PRINCIPLE
Ulrika told the Daily Mail, “It stayed put. I wasn't looking to embarrass Bo. No, this felt, to me, a simple matter of principle”. So what was the principle that Ulrika was attempting to get across? “As far as I'm concerned, nudity is not a big deal. If only everyone else felt that way”. That is an opinion. One that Ulrika is completely entitled to have. However, why she would attempt to impose that principle on vulnerable children, who are prime targets for sexual exploitation, is not known.
Many celebrities don't understand or care, how vulnerable children are to online hypersexualisation. In an attempt to grab attention for themselves, they neglect the harm their actions cause to children. If a celebrity wants to walk around naked all day and night, more power to them. Naked Tuesday as potrayed in the League of Gentlemen, is fine within one's own home. But don't normalise this behaviour in a way that encourages children to do the same online, just to stay in the public eye.
One of the easiest form of access to images of naked children for many years was through naturist publications and websites. For the most part, the existence of this content went unnoticed. Times have changed, now we are witnessing countless celebrities in the public arena, justify their own sexual self-exploitation online. Many of these individuals are victims, and probably don't even realise it themselves. What is gained by exposing yourself to the world online? Do you receive more followers, or does it get you another job perhaps? Or is this facilitated non-consentual prostitution? How many times has the online article been viewed today? How much money was generated from the self-generated sexual exploitation of these female victims generate?
An Important Question
A very important question also to consider is, how many children will now mimic this celebrity behaviour? How many will go on become victims of online sexual abuse and exploitation themselves? After all they are only mimicking celebrity content? Do celebrities even feel responsible for that? Do they even realise that they are participating in the hypersexualisation of children? No doubt, celebrities will abdicate all responsibility for their actions. After all they are adults, and can do as they please.
Parents are struggling
For parents, the task of protect children from online harm is rapidly becoming the stuff of nightmares. Children are being hit with hypersexualisation content from every angle right now, online and off. Unless you want to go live on an island with no internet access, you're fighting a very difficult battle to protect your child. Needy celebrities, looking to stay in the public eye are not helping matters one bit. However, there are steps you can take to protect your child.
Talk to your children
It is really important to talk to your children frequently, about what they see online and through traditional media outlets. Explain to them that this kind of behaviour is an adult one. Explain to them, why celebrities put themselves through the belittling experience of self-generatind sexually explicit content generation. They need to make money, and this is the lowest avenue available to do that. Make sure your child openly discuss this with you. They are under immense pressure right now, to act in a hypersexualised way and self-generate sexual content themselves. Their own peers, the celebrities they follow, the content they are being exposed to, are all promoting hypersexualisation behaviours.
Be part of the conversation
Unless you are part of the conversation, there is a really high possibility that your child will put themselves at risk. Be part of their online life. Ensure any and all protections you can apply to their devices are in place. Let us know what you think. It does feel like parents are losing ground to the celebrity hypersexualisation of children. But we will fight this together. Don't be afraid to criticize, or show your dissatisfaction when you see celebrities encourage hypersexualisation online. They need to make a living, but it should not come at the cost of children's safety.
Online Safety and Parental Control Guide
For children of the digital age, the protection of children both online and off is a priority. We have created an Online Safety and Parental Control Guide, to help parents protect the children from online harm. This 230 page E-Book costs little more than a cup of coffee. All funding raised from the sale of this digital publication, will go directly to the development of our online safety programs for children, teens and parents.