Magazine covers these days are filled with images of extremely thin girls, or "scary skinny" girls, as Gayle calls them. Gayle talks to Lyn Mikel Brown, co-author of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes, about this trend.
Lyn says she and co-author Sharon Lamb wrote the book as a parenting tool. "There is sort of one or two images out there that girls see all of the time, and they tend to be 'skinny,' 'sexy,' 'diva,' 'boy crazy,' 'shopper' kinds of images," Lyn says. "And so we wanted to write a book that really helped parents give their daughters options."
Lyn talks about the "Girl Power" movement in the late 1990s, and about how marketing shifted the concept. Originally a movement to encourage girls to speak out, gain confidence and change the world, Lyn says "Girl Power" was co-opted by marketers, and repackaged to girls as the power to look skinny and be sexy. "That's what they do: They pick up the next best thing and then they use it to sell products," Lyn says of marketers.
Today, Lyn says, marketers are pushing things such as sexy panties and padded bras for girls as young as 6. TV shows are also promoting supermodels, sex, skinniness and shopping, says Lyn. "'Sexy' and 'hot' are really being sold to girls younger and younger," she says.
"We wanted to take the focus off the girls…and put the pressure on the media and marketers because they have control over how much that image is out there and why [it is] on the cover of magazines," she says.
Lyn says, "we have to raise this issue of the health of girls and we have to talk about what kinds of narrow images are being put out there so relentlessly and who's making a lot of money off that."