Last week I heard Melinda Tankard Reist speaking to young people about the assault against girls that is being promoted through today's media and advertising. She was articulate and inspiring. Encouraging to hear was the evidence that we can speak out against the pornification of our media world and have some success - like the removal of the Isuzu competition which was obviously promoting the Bangkok sex industry.
We seem to have been talking about the unrealistic body images for years and years. I remember anorexia being the big issue when I was in high school. At least two of my friends were hospitalized because of it and lots more dabbled in it to varying degrees. More than 20 years down the track, we're no better off. Self-regulation in the advertising and fashion industry hasn't done a thing to bring commonsense on to the glossy pages of magazines or the glass windows of the shops down at our local centre. Take a quick look behind any mannequin and you'll find pins. These clothes for real people don't fit the bodies on which they are so elegantly draped. The change room mirror brings the 16-year old girl to tears yet again and, no wonder, given that the ideal that's been fostered in her mind has no true relationship with human flesh and bone.
Add to that the interstellar rise of porn that has come about in the digital age. If static Photoshopped concoctions weren't enough, today's teenager will add an avalanche of also-totally-unrealistic moving images to the bank of ideas she has about beauty, love and sex. Most of them will be pure fantasy - truly dangerous fantasies in most cases. Because fantasy that lures you into taking it on face-value is destructive. Whenever you find unreality dressed up as truth, you have a weapon of mass destruction. That can be found in a digitally-enhanced photo shoot, a sexually explicit perfume ad. or a soap opera in which people's dysfunctional relationships have no real consequences. As MTR said last week: it is no surprise that so many of our girls are struggling; the real miracle is that any of them make it through at all.
As I sat and listened to the reactions of some very saavy teenaged girls to what MTR presented, I was struck by one response in particular. This girl asked, "But how has this been allowed to happen? Why can they get away with this?" Indeed!