Teen Boundaries responds to: Was Kate Moss exploited?

Kate Moss’s experience as a young model highlights the pressure we can all feel to conform. TeenBoundaries is concerned about the effects of gender stereotyped products and also the images of mainstream advertising which present very one-dimensional views of what it means to be male or female.  Young men are increasingly under pressure to have a six-pack which is viewed as having will-power and being dominant while young women are presented as obsessed by appearance and getting only getting praise for appearing as beautiful or ‘sexy’.  This has an effect on young girls’ and boys’ aspirations and also creates templates on which to bully those who do not conform to these stereotypes.

We know from calls to TeenBoundaries and posts to forums that many parents are concerned about the multiple pressures children and young people face in the commercialised and sexualised world. While there has been some work recently on introducing legislation to encourage relevant industries to behave more responsibly, there is clearly more work to be done.

Everywhere children turn they are bombarded with idealised and sexualised media images which present unrealistic ideas about body image and what it means to be successful or popular male or female in today’s society.  These ideas can then be reinforced in peer groups at schools and sometimes within the home.  The pressures that young people face are all of our concern and it is all of our responsibility to help to tackle them.  Whilst these pressures are numerous, there is clear scope to reduce potentially negative outcomes through intervening early with high quality and age appropriate Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) and Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).  TeenBoundaries works with schools to deliver sessions on decoding advertising and the cyber world of porn (fantasy versus reality) and how it compounds the issue of sexualised bullying.

As such tackling gender stereotypes through TeenBoundaries workshops – which gives children the tools to be critical of the media stereotypes - should help to drive up educational outcomes.   Together we can help to ensure that children and young people have the tools to deal with coercive pressures, can be empowered to make positive and healthy choices and can reach their fullest potential in every aspect of their lives.

Claire Walker
Director of Policy, TeenBoundaries

Visit www.teenboundaries.org.uk