Don’t let Hollywood educate your kids

WHAT is rapper Iggy Azalea trying to prove with her nude squatting pose - that she's the female "poo jogger"?

She may be younger and more famous (only slightly) than former highflying business executive Andrew Douglas McIntosh, who fronted a Brisbane court this month after being caught defecating on a suburban pathway, but really?

Is Azalea so desperate for fame that she'll cop a squat wearing a pair of heels and socks, with not so much as a roll of toilet paper to wrap around herself?

Fashionably counter-culture she may claim to be, but that shouldn't extend to stripping off, particularly when, whether she likes it or not, she is an "influencer" of girls.

Azalea knows it, just like every parent knows it: there is already a ridiculous amount of pressure on girls to be daring, in how they dress and behave, in order to be popular, accepted or even to avoid being ostracised.

Girls as young as eight are being coerced or bribed into sending naked selfies to boys who then share them on social media like measles at a school camp.

Sometimes those "boys" are not boys at all, but middle-aged paedophiles misrepresenting themselves online.

Is this something you want your daughter emulating? Iggy Azalea models for brand Fashion Nova.
Is this something you want your daughter emulating? Iggy Azalea models for brand Fashion Nova.

Increasingly, girls are offering explicit images of themselves because they have been conditioned to think that this is expected or the new normal.

And when they do leave - and are allowed to leave - the house, many are so scantily clad they might as well be contestants on Love Island.

It's a sad situation, not helped by celebrities like 28-year-old Azalea from Mullumbimby and every other would-be Kardashian, Hadid or Hilton who wallow in narcissism instead of waking up to their broader responsibilities.

They might have lucrative contracts with fashion brands, record labels and reality TV shows, but the girls who admire them are still kids who deserve a childhood, and you can't put a price on that.

Azalea states in her raunchy campaign for US retail website Fashion Nova that "sometimes all you need is a good pair of heels".

It made we wonder just what sort of clothes Fashion Nova sells. Are they so awful that they're not worth showing?

Yes, actually. They're not really clothes at all, more like stretchy strips of fabric that may or may not hold in bums, boobs and other bits.

There's the "Nothing But A Sheer Thing" mesh dress, the "Simply Seductive Corset" top, and "Zipper Trouble" blazer.

You get the idea.

I'm not advocating a return to twin-sets and pearls, but surely there's a happy medium where you can look and feel attractive while keeping some flesh to yourself?

It's seriously misguided for young women to think dressing and behaving as sex objects is an expression of freedom, says American feminist Ariel Levy.

"Raunchy" and "liberated" are not synonyms, Levy writes in her 2005 book Female

Azalea in a pair of what can only be described as assless chaps. (Pic: Gustavo Caballero/Getty)
Azalea in a pair of what can only be described as assless chaps. (Pic: Gustavo Caballero/Getty)

Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture.

"Why is labouring to look like Pamela Anderson empowering?" she asks. "And how is imitating a stripper or a porn star - a woman whose job it is to imitate arousal in the first place - going to render us sexually liberated?"

Quite simply, it's not.

Young women need to feel empowered by, and valued for, what they offer beyond their physical appearance.

Their self-esteem should not be compromised by unattainable, air-brushed notions of beauty. And their place in society should not be limited to the sum of their body parts.

Looking to celebrities for guidance is probably too much to expect. In any case, the biggest influence on how kids think and act comes from the home.

Unfortunately, too many parents are unwilling to monitor, and regulate, what their kids are watching, wearing or doing.

Adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg says children are ill-equipped to process sexualised images that bombard them on billboards, advertising, the internet and TV.

He says studies show that the relentless sexual messages kids receive are creating eating disorders and anxiety, and sexual activity at increasingly younger ages.

It is not OK to let your kids wear T-shirts that say 'sexy babe', for example. "The message is confusing, saying to be sexy but be good."

Carr-Gregg says manufacturers of highly sexualised products are deliberately exploiting kids, but parents have to "step up to the plate on educating kids early".

Set boundaries, say no, risk being unpopular.

Parents must accept that they have to be "benign dictators", he says.

"If we do nothing, we are going to have 'surrender parent syndrome', where parents surrender the parenting of their children to Hollywood, fundamentally, and if you want to have a daughter like Paris Hilton, then continue to allow Hollywood to educate your kids.

"Don't play a role, don't set limits, don't set boundaries and you're basically going to have psychological anarchy."

It might be bizarrely fashionable for show-ponies like Iggy Azalea to get their kit off for money, but it's a trend that kids shouldn't be allowed to follow.

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