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Diane Levin on Annie Fox's "Family Confidential"

January 17, 2010

Listen to the entire interview here.

Jean Kilbourne on 51% Radio Show with Susan Barnett

October 8, 2009

Listen to the entire interview here.

Jean Kilbourne on the Santa Fe Radio Cafe wtih Mary Charlotte

August 26, 2009

Listen to the entire interview here.

Jean Kilbourne on Writer's Voice with Francesca Rheannon

August 20, 2009

Listen to the entire interview here.

Jean Kilbourne interviewed on Shaping Youth

August 17, 2009

Read the entire interview here.

Jean Kilbourne on WBZ's Jordan Rich and Friends radio show

August 4, 2009

Listen to the entire interview here.

Ads grab attention with sex

But some analysts think racy pitches go too far

By Tracy Turner, The Columbus Dispatch
August 4, 2009

To sell its new sandwich, Burger King is running an advertisement depicting a woman with red lipstick, her mouth open wide, preparing for the 7-inch-long burger hovering toward her.

To sell its apparel, Calvin Klein ran ads in New York City this year showing a shirtless young woman lying on top of a shirtless young man, kissing a second shirtless young man while a third young man lies beneath them with his shirt open and jeans unbuttoned.

Companies have known for years that sex sells, but these and other recent promotions seem to suggest that they've kicked the suggestiveness up a notch.

Part of the reason is that it's harder in the growing media marketplace to grab consumers' attention, said Clark Rector, spokesman for the American Advertising Federation, a Washington-based trade association.

Consumers are inundated with images from the Internet, television and other media, he said.

Click here to read the entire article.

It's no secret sex sells. But why?

Advertising is selling you powerful messages, ladies

By Heather Lovejoy, The Florida Times-Union
July 20, 2009

Are you a sucker for sexy ads? It's tempting to claim, "Nah, not me," pronouncing that you're wise to marketers' savvy ways. But not so fast. Advertising predominantly affects people in ways not easily distinguished, says Jean Kilbourne, an activist who for 40 years has analyzed images of women in advertising.

Ads are purposely aimed at our subconscious, she said.

Kilbourne is an author, frequent lecturer and creator of the award-winning documentary series "Killing Us Softly," a critique of how portrayals of women in advertising affect our society.

For women in particular, Kilbourne said, sex sells "because it's such a deep, powerful subconscious force."

"We've been conditioned from birth to think our sex appeal and physical attractiveness is the most important thing about us," she added.

Click here to read the entire article.

Youth in a jar? Probably not, but we buy it anyway

Whether women's anti-aging products actually work is almost beside the point.

By Stacie Stukin, LA Times
July 13 2009

Sharyn Belkin Locke knows better -- she does -- but she's admittedly attached to her anti-aging products.

"If I run out when I travel, it's a problem," says the 44-year-old art director who co-founded the handbag collection Kelly Locke. "I don't like to put something on my skin that I'm not familiar with. I don't like unknown elements."

She also knows that her loyalty to SK-II products, a Japanese skin-care line endorsed by flawless-complexioned Cate Blanchett, is based as much on the allure of sleek packaging and the luxurious formula as on the possibility that the reported active ingredient, Pitera (derived from sake yeasts), can rejuvenate the skin. "When I use it, it immediately feels great on my fingers and feels good on the face. And when I look in the mirror, my skin looks dewy and radiant."

Click here to read the entire article.

Girls With Sexy Avatars Face Greater Risks Online

By Nancy Shute, US News & World Report
May 26, 2009

Do you know what your daughter’s online avatar looks like? If it’s sexually provocative—more Bratz than American Girl doll—it’s time for a chat. “I’m amazed at the grotesqueness of some of these avatars,” says Jennie Noll, a developmental psychologist and associate professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center who asked 173 teenage girls ages 14 to 17 to make avatars, then rated their provocativeness—skimpy clothing, body piercings, exaggerated curves. Girls who created provocative avatars were more likely to get sexual come-ons online, not surprisingly, and also more apt to agree to an in-person encounter with someone they met online. Noll's study is published in the current issue of Pediatrics. The girls who chose provocative avatars were also more likely to be preoccupied with sex—and, Noll speculates, they might be more likely to try on the role.

Click here to read the entire article.

Princess for a day: New spa's beauty 'treatments' target tots

By Kathryn Wexler, The Miami Herald
April 15, 2009

Yasmine Klein gets over to Le Petite to refresh her mani-pedi and get her hair styled when she can.

''It's always fun,'' said Yasmine, who has been to Le Petite about five times since it opened in March, ''because it's painting with all different colors for the nails.''

Forgive her syntax. Yasmine is 4 years old.

That makes her a typical customer at Le Petite Youth Spa, a candy-pink shrine to pint-size pampering, primping and preening.

The North Miami Beach spa targets girls ages 4 to 12. But kids as young as 2 are never turned away.

To fulfill the fairy-tale fantasy, there are frilly vanities for barrette-enhanced hairdos and sparkly makeup applications. Girls put on tiny bathrobes, admire themselves in full-length oval mirrors and climb atop massage tables. A pink shag runway allows clients to show off their spa day results, with camera-clicking parents substituting for paparazzi.

Click here to read the entire article.

Sexy So Soon? Not for this star

By Yvette Cabrera, The Orange County Register
April 13, 2009

"Hannah Montana" breaks trend, goes for wholesome look for teen sensation Miley Cyrus.

Normally, spending a couple of hours in a movie theater full of squealing, peppy, giggling Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus fans is not my idea of a fun Saturday afternoon.

But the facts are: 1; I'm the aunt of a 7-year-old who is a huge fan of the teen phenom that is Miley Cyrus, and 2; I've been intrigued by the buzz on Cyrus' newest, "Hannah Montana: The Movie."

It's not the music, but the clothing in the movie that piqued my interest. Specifically, I wanted to know more about how the director set out to create a wholesome, clean-cut, age-appropriate look for the film's main character, Miley Stewart.

As the film's costume designer, Christopher Lawrence, put it in a recent Los Angeles Times article: "Miley Cyrus is a role model for young girls. And that's something we took very seriously."

I can just hear parents across the country breathing a sigh of relief. At last, their daughters can look up to a teen character/celebrity who isn't wearing a racy, sexy, thong-baring outfit a-la Britney Spears.

Click here to read the entire article.

More spas catering to kiddie set

By Karen Goldberg Goff, The Washington Times
April 5, 2009

Sisters Kylie and Brooklyn Sweringen pick out polish colors for their pedicures. They've been to Le Papillon Day Resort in Winchester, Va., before, and they loved the process, from the attentive technicians to the high-design soaking tubs to the way their nails look in their sparkly flip-flops.

Kylie and Brooklyn, who live in Front Royal, are 8 and 6 years old. Le Papillon opens its doors to the younger set the last Wednesday of the month, and business for manicures and massages, hair styling and other services is good, says spa owner Carolyn Webber.

"Kids can really get the full spa experience," says Ms. Webber, who opened the spa a little more than a year ago. "We use the same products we do for the adults."

Click here to read the entire article.

Sexy tops, short skirts and bras for little girls: Is 7 the new 16?

By Jennifer Keefe, Foster's Daily Democrat
March 22, 2009

DOVER — "They grow up so fast," a friend of mine commented recently, her eyes trailing her 3-year-old daughter as she took a juice box out of the refrigerator, opened it, and maneuvered her way onto the couch to watch a cartoon.

But we both knew this little display of independence was just the tip of the iceberg. It's no secret teenagers can push the envelope by dressing and acting older, and having been there ourselves not too long ago, we both see that time looming ahead of her daughter. But it might be sooner than expected, as now it seems to be happening at younger and younger ages.

Knowing there are products out there like thong panties for girls ages 8 to 12, Somersworth Middle School substitute teacher and Girl Scout troupe leader Nicole Marcin recently felt compelled to give a lecture to her 11- and 12-year-old Scouts regarding the expected dress code for an upcoming trip to Georgia.

"I told the girls that when we go to Savannah, don't wear any tank tops with thin spaghetti straps, and if they bring pajamas, I don't want anything that will show their hoo-hoos," she said. "They know what I mean."

Click here to read the entire article.

Barbie at 50: Still giving them something to talk about

By Amy S. Rosenberg, Philadelphia Inquirer
March 9, 2009

The rap on Barbie has never been pretty.

Born 50 years ago today - happy birthday, doll - Barbie's been accused of a lot of things, from being politically incorrect to being groaningly politically correct - and has survived innumerable bad haircuts and senseless beheadings - and she's emerged remarkably unscathed.

Sensible little girls like Ava Stites, 5, of Westmont, are still totally psyched to be allowed to wander into the Toys R Us in Cherry Hill, as Ava was last week on her actual birthday, and spend birthday money ($17.99) on a Barbie.

"I want pink," she told her mom, pointing at the purple mermaid Barbie, who swishes when you follow the instruction to "Squeeze my tail!"

Why Ava? Why Barbie?

Click here to read the entire article.

Talk to Tara

March 2009

Popular culture and technology inundate our children with an onslaught of mixed messages at earlier ages than ever before. Thong panties, padded bras, and risque clothing for young girls. T-shirts that boast "Chick Magnet" for toddler boys. Sexy content on almost every television channel, as well as in books, movies, video games and even cartoons. Listen in as Diane talks to Tara about savvy suggestions and helpful sample dialogues for parents from families whose kids are getting into increasing trouble emotionally and socially. Diane helps to arm them with the information, skills, and confidence they need to discuss sensitive topics openly and effectively so their kids can be just kids.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Forever Young

By Joseph P. Kahn, Boston Globe
March 5, 2009

Less than a foot tall, she has captivated young imaginations and courted controversy from the moment she arrived. Gone with the flow, adapted to changing times, and, to be frank, had some work done. Been pilloried, parodied, accessorized, analyzed, novelized, and fetishized to within an inch of her fabricated life.

Some question her iconic stature in a world populated by Bratz dolls and Britney videos, a rather harsh thing to say about an American legend who turns 50 next week.

Click here to read the entire article.

Turning 12

By Neil Swidey, Boston Globe
March 1, 2009

Everybody's talking about bras and boys, but Adele isn't quite ready to put down her dolls. One year with one girl at the age when everything changes.

Adele steps on her scooter and glides down her flat dead-end street of neat single-family homes. Kids emerge from their backyards and through their front doors, following her lead with the bouncy instincts of wedding guests joining a conga line. The younger kids on this block in the Roslindale section of Boston love Adele. That's partly because she doesn't look much older than they are. Although she has a strikingly beautiful face that could belong to a teenager, Adele is short for her 11 years and still has a young girl's physique. But mostly it's because she doesn't feel the need to put distance between herself and them, at least not yet. She's fun to be around, she still likes spending time with her stuffed-animal Webkinz on the computer and playing tag on the street, and she loves to laugh at silly things.

Click here to read the entire article.

Television and Adolescent Depression

By Nancy Shute, U.S. News and World Report
February 03, 2009

The news that watching television increases teenagers' risk of depression isn't reason enough to chuck the TV. Nor is the fact that video games don't raise the risk a reason to spend the weekend playing Halo. Parents who don't want their children to turn into morose screen addicts may be wise to take a look at how their children use media, not just how much.

Scientists have long been puzzled over whether video gaming, watching TV, and Web surfing are healthy or harmful. The question gained urgency after a 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that children average 6.5 to 8.5 hours of media exposure a day. It's as if kids are putting in a full workweek in front of the screen. The problem is, no one knows the risks or benefits of that full-time job.

Click here to read the entire article.

Distorted Desires, Lost Childhood

By Glenda Simms, The Gleaner
February 1, 2009

The collusion of adults in the population in the early sexualisation and the related levels of abuse against children has been raised in many societies. The time has come for the spectre of lost childhood as a developmental blockage to be confronted.

For instance, the September 19, 2008, edition of the Edmonton Journal carried an article by writer Robin Summerfield, entitled "Sex Sells ... even to children". This article shared with readers the concerns raised by Jean Kilbourne, the author of a new book, So Sexy So soon: The New Sexualised Childhood and What Parents Can do to protect their kids.

In this article, the impact of media on teens and children was the focus of the themes covered by the author, who pointed to the problem of how the profit-seeking conglomerates and fashion houses deliberately target youngsters as consumers of the sleazy side of what is now called popular culture.

It was also pointed out that besides being promoted as consumers of miniskirts, which reveal rather than cover up the most private of private parts, thongs for teeny-boppers and bikinis for babes, "children are also exposed to adult themes of sex and sexuality earlier and earlier".

Click here to read the entire article.

Sasha and Malia Obama become fashion role models for kids

The Sun-Sentinel
February 1, 2009

Show's over, Hannah Montana. Time to turn the tassel, Vanessa Hudgens.

Sasha and Malia Obama are taking center stage. And their fame — and influence on young girls — has not come a minute too soon for many mothers and children's boutique owners who do not condone the 7-going-on-17 look so popular of late.

The Obama girls' classic, conservative style, seen in campaign appearances, and most visibly when they wore custom J. Crew on Inauguration Day, has won over area boutique owners by a landslide:

"Adorable. They are presented like little girls," says Suzanne Jones of Spring Flowers in Palm Beach.

Click here to read the entire article.

How to Dress like an Obama Girl

By Amy Royster, Palm Beach Post
January 25, 2009

Show's over, Hannah Montana. Time to turn the tassle, Vanessa Hudgens. Sasha and Malia Obama are taking center stage.

And their fame — and influence on young girls — has not come a minute too soon for many mothers and children's boutique owners who do not condone the 7-going-on-17 look so popular of late.

The Obama girls' classic, conservative style, seen in campaign appearances, and most visibly when they wore custom J. Crew on Inauguration Day, has won over area boutique owners by a landslide:

"Impeccable," says Janna Bischoff of Baby Alexandra in Palm Beach Gardens. "Adorable. They are presented like little girls," says Suzanne Jones of Spring Flowers in Palm Beach. "Very girly, very nice," says Sonia Peralta of Pastel in Palm Beach. "How kids should dress," says Diane Inderlin of Sweet Pea & Me in Palm Beach Gardens. "Age appropriate," says Pearl Wortham of Cloud 10 in Palm Beach.

Click here to read the entire article.

Expert Decries Sexploitation

By Donna Koehn, The Tampa Tribune
January 14, 2009

Parents know that children in middle and high schools are barraged by entertainment and advertising that exploit sexuality.

What many don't realize, says author Jean Kilbourne, is how early this begins.

"It's a scary time," she says. "The age at which children are being sexualized is so much younger now."

She cites a store selling Halloween costumes of "pimps and 'hos" in a size 4. Also troubling her is a video on YouTube with more than one million hits showing a preschooler imitating racy Beyonce dance moves.

"Almost all the comments are 'how cute she is,'" she says. "People are desensitized."

Click here to read the entire article.

Skin Deep: Seeking Self-Esteem Through Surgery

By Camille Sweeney, New York Times
January 14, 2009

When 18-year-old Kristen of River Edge, N.J., began to develop curves at 15, she was disappointed that breasts didn’t follow. “They never grew,” said Kristen. “I didn’t feel like a woman.”

And, in fact, at 15, Kristen wasn’t yet a woman. But to someone raised in a culture of celebrity obsession and makeover TV shows — not to mention the fact that when Kristen was 16, her mother and older sister had received breast implants — she believed a shapely bust line was her due. So, last May, as a high school graduation gift from her parents, Kristen underwent breast augmentation surgery with saline implants, approved by the Food and Drug Administration for people 18 and older.

“I just wanted to look normal, and now I do,” said Kristen, whose family members asked that their last name not be used.

Click here to read the entire article.

Protecting Children from a Sexualized Childhood

By Diane Levin, PBS Parents
January 5, 2009

Diane was a guest blogger at PBS Parents in early January. Read her words and the conversation that followed here:

Helen recently wrote asking me for help dealing with the aftermath of the "High School Musical" birthday party her 5-year-old daughter had recently attended. At the party, the girls dressed up in fancy clothes and were taught how to do a special [i.e., sexy] dance by the high school-aged cousin of the birthday girl. After the HS Musical cake, the girls broke the HS Musical piñata to get their party favors -- temporary tattoos of the film's characters. The children did a special performance of the HS Musical dance when parents arrived to pick them up. Click here to read the blog.

Tarting up chastity

By Matthew Coutts, National Post
December 30, 2008

The National Post presents a week-long series about some of the most interesting ideas to emerge in the past year. Today, the market-ability of virginity and the new online speak.

Months after deciding to auction off her virginity, the attractive brunette known as Natalie Dylan continues to field seemingly personal questions with the ease and detachment of a well-oiled publicity machine.

The 22-year-old from San Diego, with a bachelor degree in women's studies, made a splash in newspapers and gossip Web sites when she decided to profit from her "first time" by auctioning it off through a Nevada brothel to pay for her student loans.

Click here to read the entire story.

Messages gone wild

By Joseph P. Kahn, Boston Globe
December 24, 2008

For decades, Jean Kilbourne has been documenting how the marketing of alcohol, cigarettes, and other products undermines society's health. A senior scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women, Kilbourne is particularly concerned about the damage inflicted upon young people and women. Her latest book, written with Wheelock College education professor Diane Levin, is titled "So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids" and takes in everything from Bratz dolls to 7-year-olds discussing oral sex.

Q. Give us the big picture here.

A. First, it's absolutely not about sex and sexuality. We're all for that. The problem is sexualization - turning people into objects - which does real harm to girls in obvious ways and to boys in less obvious ways.

Click here to read the entire interview.

Childhood interrupted

By Robin Summerfield, Canwest News Service
September 20, 2008

Mini-skirts for mini-people, thongs for tweens and bikinis for babies: Childhood has never seemed so sleazy. At the mall, it's often hard to distinguish the line between womenswear and clothing for girls. With Halloween on the horizon, racks will once again be well-stocked with tight, short and revealing costumes for girls. Watch for provocative pirates or slinky French maids coming to a teen party near you. Click here to read the entire story.

Real Life, Real Talk

With Tiffany Card
September 10, 2008.

Radio talkshow. Click here to listen.

Turing the Tide - Radio Program

With Maggie Pascal
September 7, 2008

Radio talkshow on WCBM-AM (Phoenix, MD). Click here to listen.

Culture Shocks - Radio Program

With Barry Lynn
August 21, 2008.

Radio talkshow. Click here to listen.

Too sexy, too soon: Combating the sexualization of childhood

By Nancy Shute, U.S. News & World Report
August 11, 2008

A 6-year-old asks at dinner, "What's a blow job?" Four-year-old girls mimic Britney Spears's pelvis-grinding gyrations. Eight-year-old girls plot how to manipulate their parents to buy them "sexy" midriff-baring tops. And fifth-grade boys tell their teacher they know you don't have to like a person to have sex with them because they've seen pornography on the Internet. Click here to read the full story.

6 ways to prep your kids for an oversexed world

By Nancy Shute, U.S. News and World Reports
August 11, 2008

Talking with kids about sex is a challenge for most parents, and it's getting harder by the day, what with children exposed to sexually explicit terms and images at younger and younger ages. Diane Levin, coauthor of So Sexy So Soon, gives these six pointers on how to help your children navigate safely through an oversexualized world. "It's much harder for parents now," Levin says. "But there's a lot more they can do than they realize." Click here to read the full story.

Too sexy, too soon

Video of Jean and Diane on Good Morning America
August 7, 2008

How are kids being influenced by references to sex in the media? Watch video here.

Raising kids in sexualized society: Q & A from the Today show
August 6, 2008

The authors of the book “So Sexy So Soon,” Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne, answer questions about how today's sexualized culture affects kids as young as 7 years old, and they offer tips on how parents can address this with their children. Click here to read the story.

Watch video of Diane and Jean on the Today show.