Friday, September 16, 2011

Fat phobia in children's programming

My daughter loves watching Suite Life with Zack and Cody. It is a show about twin boys who go to school on a cruise ship. There are a lot of things about the show that annoy me to the point where I am ready to ban the show in our house.

What I like about the show is that the girls on it are not that concerned about boys. One of them is funny, smart, and concerned about things like schoolwork and her family back home on the farm. Another female character is only concerned about looks and her father's money, and her character London Tipton is based on real-life Paris Hilton... annoying in a lot of ways, but at least she doesn't change herself to get boys to like her (unlike Hannah Montana, for example).

The boys, however, are constantly objectifying their female peers. Todays episode got my attention because it was a somewhat humorous parody of Star Trek. The ending, however, left much to be desired.

One of the twin boys woke up on a beach and was overjoyed that he had finally made it to "bikini island." "Bring on the babes!" was one of his objectifying exclamations. However, the girl that appeared was not what he would describe as a "babe." It was an overweight older woman in a shiny gold bikini. At this point he screamed and tried to jump back into space to get away from her (the scene is on youtube here, 9 minutes in)

I don't know where to begin analyzing the message that this is telling children. It seems that my daughter cannot get a break from being told that her value as a human being is attached to how she looks.

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