I consider myself fairly vigilant when it comes to monitoring June’s media exposure. She watches the occasional Sesame Street, Caillou or Letter Factory DVDs but a story in The Atlantic yesterday about the sexing up of even Candy Land – Candy Land! – is a reminder that parents have to be careful about what sort of toys our kids plays with too.
The classic child’s board game is just the latest in a long list of examples of kids’ toys in which the characters have become more sexualized, longer, leaner and sassier over time. It seems that not even Rainbow Brite is free from being nipped, tucked and “enhanced” in some way.
At first glance, this may seem banal — so what if the 2013 version of Candy Land’s Queen Frostine is a few pounds lighter than the 80s version? Well, it does matter–a lot, and there is ample research to back it up. Constant exposure to unrealistic beauty standards and hyper sexualized imagery is directly linked to low body satisfaction and diminished self esteem, according to body image expert Thomas F. Cash in his book Body Image: A Handbook of Science, Practice and Prevention. There is evidence that in girls as young as five watching appearance focused TV predicts body dissatisfaction. In fact, some 40 to 50 percent of kids between the ages of 6-12 already say they don’t like their size or shape.
I don’t want June growing up absorbing the message it’s her job to be super skinny, sexy and alluring. Who needs it? Following is a brief slide show showing how some kids’ characters have undergone sexy, hyper idealized physical transformations over the years. It’s enough to make me want to break out the Lincoln Logs.
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