Is this the New Normal?

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A few years ago we were cleaning out the garage when we stumbled across a small collection of Playboy magazines from the 1970’s. They were hidden in the roof of all places. What a cultural discovery! We flicked through the pages and marvelled at all the pubic hair and natural breasts. The curved hips and the generous bums. No scalpel here my friends! Women looking like women and all different. It was rather ace.

And then we threw them in the recycling bin.

Anyway, I bring this up because now, women’s bodies are judged for pretty much everything. We are taught from a very young age that we are fairly hideous and things need to be improved. And then (hopefully) by the time you hit your 40’s you stop giving a fuck and become more grateful for the marvel that IS your actual body, and despite punishing yourself by treating it like shit for all those years, it gets you from A to B.

Were you like me? When you were a teenager at the beach, or the pool, you would wear your towel wrapped around you, walk to the body of water and then, at the very last second, whip off your towel and jump straight in, hoping to GOD that no one saw your bod? Because you thought you were fat? Or because your boobs were teeny, or huge! Good times. I made sure everything I wore was baggy, didn’t show much skin and sweated through tracksuit pants on even the hottest of days. I wanted to look like Raquel Welch, or Olivia Newton John in her Xanadu era. I even had some headbands with coins on them, which I used to
wear across my forehead. LIKE ALL THE TIME! With my tracksuit pants.

Anyway, the difference between me growing up, and the youth of today is the development of Social Media. I like social media very much, and I am lucky enough to have turned it into my profession. TICK. But it does worry me so much in so many ways. I see the kids on various accounts, and they are growing up way too fast. I check out the instagram feeds of teenage “Instagram Stars” and cannot help but think what all the other girls feel about themselves when they are shown the shiny happy people holding hands. And then there is the mysterious SNAPCHAT which I cannot get my head around, but they are all using it.

Recently, one of my sons who shall remain nameless, has had his phone removed from his person for the remainder of the month due to some very poor decision-making. I cannot begin to tell you the difference it has made in every area of his life! Sure, it was not the most popular executive decision I have ever made, but it has been well worth it. I have seen glimmers of the kid he truly is, and in a way, I sense a bit of relief from him. I chatted about this to the Huffy Puffy gals this morning, as we did our session in Mrs. Goodman’s pool, due to the scorched earth situation happening here in Sydney at the moment. These gals are WISE, like super super qualified in dealing with parenting issues. Mrs Jenkins said indeed he would be a little relieved, as it is all about trying to Keep up with the Kardashians in the playground. Interesting hey.

Anyway, it was during this discussion that the Huffy Puffy Trainer’s phone pinged. She looked down at it before proclaiming “OH. MY. GOD”.

This was far more interesting that doing squat jumps in the pool so we all went over to have a gander. And there she was. As naked as the day she was born. A young teenage girl, who had sent some selfies to the HP trainers son, which ended up going onto the family iCloud and thus ending up on his mothers phone.

What the hell would you do? The wise ladies offered up plenty of solid advice, with one of them supplying the fact that approximately 30% of girls under the age of 16 think that this is a normal thing to do. Meanwhile, at the same age, I was doing everything humanly possible to make sure no-one would ever catch me dead in a bathing suit. Is this the new normal? Jesus H Christ…..

Tracey Spicer wrote a really interesting article about the sexualisation of young girls yesterday. Read it here. In it she talks about some inappropriate comments directed to her ten year old daughter by an older man.

“My, how you’ve grown. You’re a pretty little thing. All the men will be looking at you instead of your mother!”

What the actual fuck?

Anyway, this has turned into a long winded, not really cohesive rant about things that are not sitting right for me right now. I hope you have something to add to the conversation. Let me ask a few questions, ok?

Have you ever found something shocking on your kids phone?

What would you do if your kid was sending nude photos of themselves to others?

Or am I over-reacting? Is this now the new normal?

  • GoddessMel

    It’s a tricky thing. I’m not a parent and so thankfully don’t have to deal with these issues myself; sadly my job sees me exposed to the seamier side of the sexualisation of children. I think social media has made this type of thing the new normal for teens and pre-teens, heck even for a lot of adults. And I have mixed feelings about it. I think that hiding sex and sexuality from kids is not necessarily the best thing – they will be curious, they will ask questions, and every parent I know wants their kid to feel good and healthy about their body. But kids aren’t the most rational beings when it comes to making good, sensible, long-term decisions – they’re about the here and now and if it feels good, do it mentality. They’re not thinking about what might happen if the object of their affection one day turns on them, or if their security settings mean those pics end up in the public realm (or semi-public even, as happened with your friend). They don’t understand the nefarious behaviour that festers on the internet that will take even innocent images of your toddler in the tub and use it for sexual gratification and profit. My halcyon teenage days, when one could destroy the negatives if the worst happened and someone snapped a picture of your cleavage or some drunken antic at a party, are well and truly gone. We can’t stop the juggernaut that is social media, or oversharing, but if you educate your kids, teach them that their body is beautiful but also that it is special and private, and keep the dialogue open, I think that’s really all you can do.

  • It seems like a normal thing for women to hate their bodies, and this need to improve our bodies is perpetuated in the media everywhere. There is nowhere near the amount of pressure put on men – look at the recent optifast ads where the man is much larger than the women! Body hatred is not confined to people who are overweight or obese either. I have seen it said that the most radical thing that we can do is love ourselves. Even if changes need to be made to our diets or exercise regimens to effect positive health outcomes, they are much more likely achieved from a place of compassion than self-hatred.

  • Jenni from Styling Curvy

    It is the new normal but if you are sending pics of people under the age of consent it’s considered child porn…something the schools drum into the kids. I’ve raised two sons and don’t ever look at their phones because the little dicks have the passwords wound up so tight, oh yes I’ve tried. All I could do was drum into them about respect, integrity and consent and cross my fingers…which is more than the parents of my generation were doing which is probably why I have a little video cassette floating around my collection that my kids would never ever want to play. I must do something about finding that!

  • Rebecca

    I stand to be corrected buuuut…. Mrs Huffy Puffy is now in possession of child pornography (through no fault of her own obviously). The righteous law abiding citizen in me would say report it straight away. Perhaps the police could help the girl by explaining the dangers of sending such pictures (as evidenced by the wrong person receiving them in this case). She will definitely not win any popularity contest with her son though. But is that the most important thing here? What happens if the photo is disseminated by ‘the wrong person’? The ramifications for the child? What happens if then an investigation is undertaken and Mrs Huffy Puffy is found to have been in possession of said picture and did not report it? There is a definite opportunity to help the buck stop right here and now in relation to the potential damage caused to the child (in more ways than one). The old saying -‘the standard you walk past….’. A parenting dilemma if ever there was one, good luck Mrs Huffy Puffy x

  • The Family Cloud sounds like an excellent idea. I fear for the girl sending the images. Is it only GIRLS doing the nude photos or are boys at it too? I remember walking around the school pool covering my boobs with my arms for years and as a competitive swimmer instead of thinking about the race, my last thought as I bent over to dive in was ‘does my bum look big like this’.

  • Kate

    When my daughter was in year 2, I was beckoned over by another mother in the playground. Uh oh. Turns out my sweet innocent child had distributed, to a group of year 2s, a rather inappropriate meme, on a rather inappropriate app (since banned) called kik.
    What was the meme you ask? It was a picture of Jesus Christ. No worries so far. However the text on the meme read “Jesus loves you. But I think you’re a c***”. Oh dear.
    The child is now in year 7, and her online sharing is her FNAF fan fiction and her warrior cats drawings rather than her unclad booty. I hope it stays that way for a bit….

  • At 24 my daughter is old enough to make her own decisions (thankfully I can say that without panicking, for they are good) but I set up a family cloud for my 2 younger sons for this exact reason – to keep a quiet eye on what they are up to online. A few days ago we discovered that Mr 12 had set himself up on social media without discussing it with us, and subsequently all of those accounts were deleted. I do not think you are over reacting at all. I think there is so much freedom in the online world that it is up to us as parents to police the the boundaries of acceptable behaviour, because god knows no one else is.

  • It scares the shite out of me! So hate the way girls are made to feel and am worried my daughter will do things to get noticed because it’s the new norm. I have a few years left to impart my ‘wisdom’ – xx

  • Heidi D

    regularly check my 14 year old daughters phone. She knows I do this, it was a condition of having a phone. Last year checking phone & found message from a boy, that it turns out she didn’t know in real life, asking for photos after she had been chatting to him for a little bit. I immediately messaged him back, told him he had been speaking to a 13 year old & this was her mum, if he ever made those sort of requests again I would involve the police. He tried to back track very quickly.

  • Chloe

    Well, one thing we can all do is to show this post to each of our youngins’. If you send a pic to anyone, their mum might end up seeing it and showing it to all her huffy puffy friends….. true story – teachable moment.

  • sue

    YES!
    My teen nieces have insta accounts that scare the shit out of me.
    They are more glamorous/confident than i will ever be – but i worry about how many poses & photos it took for them to get that ‘one’ image. Then all their friends comment “you’re hot!”, “bae!” (wtf?). It is the new normal – but it’s so far removed from what i think is normal that it’s scary.
    I’m all for empowered women/girls, but are they really empowered by flaunting their bodies – or are they just playing into what boys/men tell them?

    And to go off on a tangent – it worries me that my son may one day want to date girls that are so obsessed by their appearance & what others think. Hopefully he will know to never harass them for naked pics or i will be coming down on him like a tonne of bricks

  • Angela

    Unfortunately it is the new normal. I have 2 teen girls who arent so silly not to post nude pictures but 1 who was silly enough to “gossip” on fb messenger group (10 friends) about the image they had seen as someone had reposted the image (kid was known to them) long story short is they were read the sex register act ( by school) and they could have all ended up on it, even though they were only guilty of viewing an image , the reposter /image taker most definitely could have been on register. Lawyers got involved (from parents whose kids just ‘saw’ the image ) and as far as I was aware its been dealt with with no serious consequence . But there could have been serious issues.
    Then I am sick of viewing teens in bikinis with all the comments like “hot” sexy, cute, hot bod etc. This is how girls are judged these days and usually its other girls , not boys making the comments.
    Visual social media is 1 big problem imo.
    Also phone ban is usual practice in my household and once it was for a month. I had a much nicer teen in my house that month!

  • merilyn

    i am just soo glad I don’t have to deal with all of this mrs woog!
    it is all out of hand and out of our hands!
    anarchy comes to mind actually!!!
    all the best to all parents they will need it!
    i’m not negative just realistic I think!
    much love m:)X