Did you even know Australia had a Federal Children’s Commissioner? We don’t hear that much from her – so thought we would try to get her attention and involvement on this. Let her know you want her to act by signing the petition today!
Condemn & Take Action to Stop Exploitative Universal Royalty Child Beauty Pageant from coming to Australia
Universal Royalty’s Child Beauty Pageant is coming to Melbourne, Australia, despite clear evidence from experts that the practise is detrimental to the normal and healthy development of children.
Child beauty pageants are exploitation. Little girls are made to undergo unnecessary and painful beauty treatments such as waxing, tanning and even botox. They are adorned with make up, high heels, false eyelashes, acrylic nails, flippers (false teeth) and hairpieces. They are primped and styled to look and act like mini-adults, to flirt with the judges and to be sexy and alluring.
The pageants teach girls from a very early age that their worth is based on their appearance. Research shows that reinforcing an emphasis on looks and attractiveness leads to negative body image, disordered eating, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. There are now over a hundred global reports on the issue of sexualisation of children. This research has shown that sexualisation is harmful to children’s cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality and beliefs.
A parliamentary report recently released in Western Australia by WA’s Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for Children and Young People called for child beauty pageants to be scrutinised as one of several ways to tackle the sexualisation of children.
Last year France outlawed child beauty pageants for children under 16 to protect them from being prematurely sexualised. Pageant organisers face jail time and substantial fines for harming children in this way.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said: ”Direct participation and competition for a beauty prize where infants and girls are objectified and judged against sexualised ideals can have significant mental health and developmental consequences that impact detrimentally on identity, self-esteem, and body perception.”
A 2005 study in The Journal of Treatment and Prevention reported ”a significant association between childhood beauty pageant participation and increased body dissatisfaction, difficulty trusting interpersonal relationships, and greater impulsive behaviours”.
Teaching little girls to preen and to strut, to look sexy for the judges, to emphasise sexualised behaviours is totally inappropriate for children. We want better for our girls and call on Megan Mitchell, the National Children’s Commissioner, to publicly condemn and take action to stop the Universal Royalty pageant from coming to Melbourne on August 2nd 2014.
(90 min feature followed by panel discussion with Melinda Tankard Reist, Calvin Taylor and others)
Where: Crossway Centre Main Auditorium
2 Vision Drive,
Burwood East, 3151
Cost: Gold coin donation at the door (all proceeds go to Collective Shout)
Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation (87 min; TV-14 DL) uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.
In a society where media is the most persuasive force shaping cultural norms, the collective message that our young women and men overwhelmingly receive is that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. While women have made great strides in leadership over the past few decades, the United States is still 90th in the world for women in national legislatures, women hold only 3% of clout positions in mainstream media, and 65% of women and girls have disordered eating behaviors.
Stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with politicians, journalists, entertainers, activists and academics, like Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem build momentum as Miss Representation accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective.
Former MP guilty of sex offences receives suspended sentence
Today I am thinking about a 15-year-old Tasmanian girl and what she thinks of the Australian justice system. I’m wondering if she is questioning if it was worth taking her harrowing ordeal to the courts to find no justice at the end of the process.
At a mere 12-years-old, this girl was prostituted by adults and used by at least 120 men. Only one of them was charged. And yesterday he was released.
Former Tasmanian MP Terry Martin, who had been found guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse with a young person and of producing child exploitation material in 2009 – he took photos of the girl which were added to his stash of hundreds of pornographic images including of children as young as eight -walked free from court with a suspended sentence.
Handing down his ruling in Hobart’s Supreme Court, judge David Porter said Martin’s medication for Parkinson’s disease caused him to do what he did.
According to The Australian “The judge said the condition caused by the medication had impaired Martin’s ability to make moral judgments and therefore ‘his moral culpability is reduced’.
How did the drugs influence the fact that he took images of what he did? Did they cause him to pick up a camera and start filming? When the Judge says Martin’s offences would not have occurred, it is as if they just happened like that.
Was it just an incredible coincidence that Martin already had a child porn collection? And what does this suggest about other men who are on the same medication? Should they be watched with eagle eyes around children? If this drug causes men to solicit girls and use them for sexual gratification, shouldn’t it be immediately withdrawn from market?
Late last year I published a piece on the girl’s case by Professor Caroline S Taylor. It gives important background and detail on the case, so I think it is worth reprinting today.
Meanwhile, I hope the young girl, so mistreated and violated and now denied justice, knows that there are many who do care for her and are angered and saddened at what passes for justice.
Post by Professor S. Caroline Taylor, Foundation Chair in Social Justice and Head of the Social Justice Research Centre at Edith Cowan University. Professor Taylor is also the Founder and Chair of Children of Phoenix Organisation, a charity that provides scholarships and mentoring support to children, adolescents and adults affected by childhood sexual abuse.
Last week, the Tasmanian Director of Public Prosecution, Mr Tim Ellis, released an eight page Memorandum of Advice to the Tasmania police which instructed that at least 120 men who had paid to ‘have sex with’ a 12-year-old ward of the state will not be charged with breaking the law.
On October 1, on Stateline Tasmania, Mr Ellis dismissed broad community and expert concern about the case as nothing more than a symptom of “wicked” media sensationalism. He added the gratuitous comment that the law rests with a “reasonable jury, not a lynch mob”.
In effect Mr Ellis framed the numerous and profound media and expert critiques of the social justice issues that this case clearly raises as nothing more than an hysterical media driven moral panic about child sexual abuse.
It’s a puerile argument, as stupid as it is offensive to public sensibilities. This tactic reduces the complex reasons behind the critique of his decision with an underhanded accusation that such critiques are not “reasonable”. This is echoed in the Attorney-General Lara Giddings comment: “I understand their anger”. Reducing the profound ethical critiques of this case to a single reactionary emotion – anger – infantilises public concern in order to dismiss such concerns.
Our legal system is premised on the notion that police lay charges where there is evidence that a crime has been committed according to the rules of the law. Yet in this case the DPP has determined that not one, not two, not three, not four, but a series of men charged with paying to sexually abuse a child all really believed that a 12-year-old ward of the state was an adult. To be clear, the Director of Public Prosecution has used his discretion to void all charges on the grounds that he found every one of their arguments “convincing”. I wonder how many “arguments” they actually had? Or did they amount to the one generic excuse: they could not tell the difference between a primary school age child and a female aged 18.Read more
I haven’t seen the latest photographs by artist Bill Henson to go on show at Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne.
But I have seen these.
So I know what Henson is capable of and how he likes to depicts and shoot young girls.
The girl (image to the right) who featured naked on the invite to the Roslyn Oxley gallery was 13. While that photo was widely circulated, an even more graphic one of another girl (image to the left) was not. She is ‘Untitled 1985/86’, quietly auctioned by Menzies Art Brands, Lot 214, for $3800, only weeks after the original Henson controversy.
And when Tolarno Galleries refuses to reveal the age of the youngest naked girl in the new exhibition, you have to suspect there is a problem. Why the secrecy? Was she at an age where she could consent? As respected teen psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg put it when I asked his view, would she “have sufficient cognitive or emotional maturity to fully comprehend the potential ramifications of what she is doing?”
Where will her photo end up? Where did the photos of the other two girls above end up?
Why does calling it “art” make sexualised depictions of young girls OK?
It is right to question Henson’s sexual depictions of vulnerable naked young girls – and other overtly sexualised imagery of children – a point I made on Channel 7’s Morning Show last Thursday. Media academic and researcher Nina Funnell also reveals here that Henson’s images have been found in the collections of paedophilies.
Calling on Federal Minister Peter Garrett and Victoria counterpart Wendy Lovell to intervene
Collective Shout has initiated a petition in response to the news that a US pageant company plans to import its child beauty competitions to Australia. You can find the petition on the Care2 petition site . Please sign and circulate it through all your networks. The petition reads:
Child beauty pageant company Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant is planning to hold a ‘Child Beauty Pageant’ in Melbourne, Australia, in July.
Many psychologists and child development authorities agree that child beauty pageants are not in the best interest of healthy child development.
A study conducted by Anna Wonderlich et.al (2005) in the Journal of Treatment and Prevention reported ‘A significant association between childhood beauty pageant participation and increased body dissatisfaction, difficulty trusting interpersonal relationships, and greater impulsive behaviors and indicates a trend toward increased feelings of ineffectiveness.’
Television shows like Toddlers and Tiaras reveal the child exploitation endemic in these pageants. Child advocates around the world have spoken out about the sexualised clothing, suggestive dance moves, hours of grooming and preening required. They have expressed concern about the way pageants provide external validation to girls that their physical appearance is what is most important in being female. They have criticised the way child beauty pageants re-inforce stereotypical norms about female beauty. They have also pointed out that adultifying children in pageants and elsewhere invites us to see them as older than they are, which puts them (and other children) at risk of inappropriate treatment.
Pitting young girls against each other in a competition based on physical appearance and performance is harmful to their wellbeing.Research on the sexualisation of children shows that reinforcing an emphasis on looks and attractiveness leads to negative body image, disordered eating, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
We call on the Federal Minister for Early Childhood and Youth, the Hon. Peter Garrett and the Victoria Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development, Wendy Lovell, to take action to prevent these style of pageants in Australia and (with State colleagues) to consider legislative measures to ban all future pageants for children.
Mtr on sexualisation of girls and pageants this week on SBS
Nina Funnell writes that girls are learning to read their value as a person in terms of how their physical appearance is received by others.
“Destiny enjoys singing, dancing and, of course, pageantry” announces the beauty pageant’s MC as a made-up blonde in a white gown sashays across the stage. Did I mention that Destiny is a five year old child? Welcome to the world of Toddlers and Tiaras, an American reality TV series that follows the lives of children and their families as they prepare for and compete in beauty pageants.
Having recently sat through a Toddlers and Tiaras marathon (as research for a book chapter) I now consider myself an expert on winning children’s beauty pageants.
The first thing you need is a pushy and obnoxious mother who has no problem with screaming at her child. In one episode a mother screeches “Flirt! You’re not flirting!” as her six year old daughter practices her routine. “Stand up straight, suck your tummy in!” directs another. In one episode a girl cries in pain as her mother attempts to force an earring through a closed up ear piercing. And another ignores her five year child’s cries of protest as her eyebrows are forcibly waxed adding that her daughter “is just a bit, kind of terrified” because the last time “the wax was way too hot and it actually ripped off her skin”.
The second thing you need to do is fake-it-up. From the age of about two girls begin to wear fake hair, fake eyelashes and fake teeth sets (known as “flippers”). Almost all girls get fake tans with a number owning their own spray tanning machines at home. One four year old is taken on “diva days” where she is “treated” to facials, manicures and pedicures. Others have waxing, teeth whitening and chemical hair straightening as well as weaves and hair extensions.
And then there is the all-important clothing. “Glitz” outfits – dresses decked out with diamantes and other jewels – cost between five and ten thousand dollars. One mother admits that she has spent more than $15 000 that year alone on pageants, adding that if she saved the money her family “could probably live in a bigger home, but [winning Miss America] just feels like my daughter’s destiny.” Her daughter is only three. Other mothers talk about taking “second pageant jobs” to pay for the expensive and numerous competitions.
Then there is the cost of hair and make-up, professional photography and photo retouching (airbrushing), and the price of pageant coaches who train the girls. Brandi, a thirty-one year old Prozac-popping coach who thanks God for bringing her to pageantry, offers her six year old clients bonus advice on picking up boys, “I tell them to get with the smart boys- the nerdy ones- because when they grow up, they’re going to be the rich ones, and you can be a trophy wife”.
On pageant day parents wear tacky customized t-shirts displaying their child’s name and photo. Three year olds have “before and after” shots displayed on the show like on diet product advertisements. One mother feeds her child three cans of red-bull energy drink before competing to keep her “perky” during competition. A six month old girl already has seventy pageant titles to her name. Girls perform sexualised dance routines imitating MTV video clips. And boys compete too. One ‘Little Mr’ is introduced by the MC as “Matthew”, adding that “Matthew’s favourite person is his daddy in heaven”.
While the show may sound exploitative and crass, it is actually documenting the appalling and exploitative behaviour of stage parents who live vicariously through their children’s achievements. It’s incredibly cringe worthy to watch but the show offers an important window onto a world which many of us are only aware of through the adult outputs of the industry in the form of Miss Universe winners and runner-ups.
Meanwhile, the media continues to laud individuals such as Miranda Kerr and Jennifer Hawkins (and to a lesser extent Jessinta Campbell and Rachael Finch). These women, as supposed role models, teach little girls (and stage parents everywhere) that the easiest way for a girl in today’s society to achieve fame, fortune and success is to win a beauty competition.
It’s hardly surprising that little girls are now feeling anxious about their bodies at an earlier and earlier age. Nor is it surprising that they are learning to read their value as a person in terms of how their physical appearance is received by others. Seeing little girls being judged, scrutinized and assessed over their appearance is truly distressing. Even worse, the fact that this process is not only normalized but actually celebrated by their parents is just horrific.
Equating a girl’s self worth with her appearance is a dangerous and destructive game and one that the media encourages girls to play from a very early age. Parents should want to protect children from this message, not teach it to them.
Oppose US child beauty pageants coming to Australia
If you haven’t watched it already, this ACA video is a must-see. It provides further evidence for the sheer ugliness – and harm – of child pageant culture. We meet the American woman behind plans to bring this toxic child exploitation fest to Australia in July – and the Melbourne woman who will run it here. She is already preparing her young daughters for entry. One reveals she doesn’t like wearing make-up – but that is clearly of insignificant to her mother who is too busy organising her daughter’s body waxing to care. Someone who does care is Julie Gale, my colleague and friend from Kids Free 2B Kids who also appears here.
Teaching girls their value is in their physical beauty
Many readers will have seen the documentary Toddlers and Tiaras revealing the child exploitation that is the US beauty pageant industry. A five year old begging not to have her eyebrows ripped out. Little girls preening, strutting, pouting, beckoning to the judges ‘come here baby’, kissing their finger and pressing it to their backsides in a gesture indicating they are smoking hot, the suggestive dance routines and sexualised costumes, parents investing thousands of dollars to turn their daughters into big haired, grotesquely made-up sexy dolls. In the words of Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pals:
Teaching young girls a very narrow version of beauty, transforming their bodies so that their beauty can be measured and judged, or to use their sexualized bodies to earn money for the family is disgusting…When you add to this the chemically dangerous spray tans, butt glue, nail glue, eyelash glue, hairspray, and cosmetics applied to these tiny, developing bodies, it is not a stretch to say these pageant programs are both emotionally and physically abusive.
After viewing some of the episodes online I thought – at least this is one toxic US export that hasn’t infected our shores.
I can’t think that any more. Because this toxic pageant culture is on its way to Australia. Universal Royalty Beauty Pageants will open for business in Melbourne in July.
The July pageant, for babies to adults, costs a minimum of $295, which includes a compulsory beauty competition, modelling and make-up workshops.
Optional extras include tanning, dressing like a celebrity for $50 and a photo and autograph session with American beauty pageant star, five-year-old Eden Wood…
Melbourne-based Kristin Kyle, helping organise the event, said it was already attracting interest from across Australia and New Zealand. The winner will take home a laptop, a rhinestone crown, a 1.5m trophy, an “official supreme royalty banner” and a stuffed teddy bear.
In its marketing material, the event claims to foster a “positive, fun-filled atmosphere” by encouraging self-confidence, education and “striving to be your very best”.
Making girls conform to stereotyped norms of female beauty
Here’s what I had to say about child beauty pageants on Channel 7’s Morning Show today. Naturally I disagreed with the pageant mum who said it was about “Playing Barbies” and “It’s what girls should do” and the Sunshine Coast pageant organiser who likened pageants to “sport” and said they were about being “beautiful and having fun”.
Collective Shout is planning action against child beauty pageants in Australia. Check the website for details and updates.
Antoinette Jones – Principal – Mitcham Girls High School
“Intelligent, passionate, brilliant, fearless… I could not recommend her more highly”
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
“You continue to reset my shock meter…”
“As a teacher and parent I recommend all parents, in fact all people, to attend a talk by Melinda- it will open your eyes and awaken your subconscious.”
Heather Douglas – Parent – Pembroke School
“Melinda’s presentations to our parents, staff and full day workshops to students was inspirational, transforming the attitudes and thinking of all involved”
Paul Teys – Principal – Hunter Valley Grammar
“Melinda Tankard Reist’s presentation to Middle and Upper School students at Pymble Ladies’ College was absolutely brilliant!”
Justine Hodgson – English Faculty, Pymble Ladies’ College
“Melinda Tankard Reist has had a transformational affect on our school.”
Ms Stephanie McConnell, Principal – Turramurra High School
“Melinda Tankard Reist is at the forefront of helping…educate the public on the link between pornography and violence…” – Di Macleod, Director, Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence
“As you read, be prepared to feel both grief and rage.” Robert Jensen
“These accounts are among the most unsettling you will ever read.” Steve Biddulph
“This powerful and humane book is a breakthrough…Big Porn Inc shows us we are poisoning our own spirits.” – Steve Biddulph
“A landmark publication” – Clive Hamilton
Purchase Big Porn Inc, Getting Real, Faking It, Men of Honour, Sexts Texts & Selfies, Raising Girls, Raising Boys, MTR DVD, Ruby Who? DVD & book, Girl Wise guide to friends, Girl Wise guide to being you, Girl Wise guide to life and Girl Wise guide to taking care of your body, and the new Wise Guys for the combined discounted price of $250.
‘The foremost authority in Australia cyber safety lays it on the line and challenges parents to find their digital spine.’ – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg
Whether it is problems with friends, worrying about how you look or just feeling a bit down in the dumps – these books are written especially for you – to help you in your journey. Purchase all four together and save $18.50 on postage! Author: Sharon Witt
In this DVD, Melinda takes us on a visual tour of popular culture. “Melinda’s presentation leaves audiences reeling. She delivers her message with a clarity and commonsense without peer.” – Steve Biddulph, author, Raising Boys, Raising Girls
In this easy-to-read updated book, Steve Biddulph shares powerful stories and give practical advice about every aspect of boyhood.
“Overflowing with incisive understandings…a comprehensive and in-depth guide.” – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychologist
Men of Honour -written by Glen Gerreyn- encourages and inspires young men to take up the challenge to be honourable. Whether at school, in sport, at work or in relationships, we must develp our character to achieve success and experience the thrills life has on offer.
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“Getting Real contains a treasure trove of information and should be mandatory reading for all workers with young people in health, education and welfare” – Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, Adolescent Psychologist
Do you read women’s lifestyle magazines? Have you thought about how magazines might affect you when you read them? Faking It reflects the body of academic research on magazines, mass media, and the sexual objectification of women.
Ruby Who? is the sweet and innocent story of a little girl’s adventure in re-discovering her identity. Ruby wishes for so many things and dreams of being like others. Will she end up forgetting how to just be herself?
Ruby Who? is the sweet and innocent story of a little girl’s adventure in re-discovering her identity. Ruby wishes for so many things and dreams of being like others. Will she end up forgetting how to just be herself?
Defiant Birth challenges widespread medical, and often social aversion to less than perfect pregnancies or genetically different babies. It also features women with disabilities who were discouraged from becoming pregnant at all.