Long Layover

in All Posts

… But at least I have an interesting blog post for you: an awesome charity story and a review of So Sexy So Soon by Jean Kilbourne.


But first….


Since lunch was so light and I only munched on pretzels on the flight, I was ravenous by the time we sat down for dinner in the Atlanta airport.  Therefore, I attacked these greasy chips:


Our entrees weren’t any better, either.  I got the veggie burger and the bun seemed buttery – not in a good way.  The waitress also screwed up and brought me fries (which I gave to the Husband).


But she corrected the mistake and brought over a side salad.


Something about this meal didn’t sit well with the Husband or me.  It made me feel so icky from the inside out (I’m talking health-wise; I have no guilt about eating meals like this).  I think it was the chips that pushed me over the edge.  My stomach was cramping, my mouth felt all greasy… Ugh. 


The Husband suggested we walk off our dinner by hoofing it from Terminal A to C and I happily agreed!


Since we have a FOUR HOUR LAYOVER, we also stopped to read all the informational signs and posters most people ignore. 


Alright – the two fun things I promised you!


Help This School Get a Track!


A week or so ago, I received an e-mail from a reader named Ashley.  Ashley said:


I am branching out this year and have entered the Orange County Marathon on May 1 (yikes!).  I am running it to help a very special school.   I have a friend who is the track coach at W.S. Neal High School in Alabama.  The school is incredibly underfunded.  The kids don’t have running shoes or uniforms.  Their track is in complete disrepair.  They can’t host meets or train on it properly.  The school can’t afford to help them.  Their parents can’t afford to help them (in fact, no parents even showed up when this team went to the state championship!). 

Massie 5 Despite this, they keep practicing.   And by "they" I mean any kid who wants to run.  Track at W.S. Neal is a no-cut sport.  My friend has taken each high schooler who wants to participate, and helped them achieve their full potential.

 Massie 4

My friend even lets the middle schoolers run during her practices to help them, too! 

Massie 3

And to top it off, she has coached these kids to TWO state championships.  She is such an amazing coach and supporter for these children.  As the childhood obesity epidemic rages, particularly in the south, I think it is crucial to enable these kids to run to their potential. 


I am fundraising to help this school get the track that those kids need.  I was hoping that some of the Healthy Tipping Point readers would be inspired and would be willing to help the kids at W.S. Neal.  Even a small donation – like $5 – would be a huge help.


If this story touched you (and how could it not?), please consider visiting Ashley’s donation page to help the kids at W.S. Neal get a new track constructed!


Plus… My Review of So Sexy So Soon


I also promised you a review of So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids  (S4 from here on out).

So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids

I was inspired to buy S4 after reading Jean Kilbourne speak at the Girls on the Run summit.  I also suspected it would help me as I wrap up the Operation Beautiful Tweens book. 


The authors (Levin is a professor of education; Kilbourne, an authority on the effects of advertising) accuse the media of sexualizing children. Constantly, American children are exposed to a barrage of sexual images in television, movies, music and the Internet. They are taught young that buying certain clothes, consuming brand-name soft drinks and owning the right possessions will make them sexy and cool—and being sexy and cool is the most important thing. Young men and women are spoon-fed images that equate sex with violence, paint women as sexually subservient to men and encourage hooking up rather than meaningful connections. The result is that kids are having sex younger and with more partners than ever before. Eating disorders and body image issues are common as early as grade school. Levin and Kilbourne stress that there is nothing wrong with a young person’s natural sexual awakening, but it is wrong to allow a young person’s sexuality to be hijacked by corporations who want them as customers. The authors offer advice on how parents can limit children’s exposure to commercialized sex, and how parents can engage kids in constructive, age-appropriate conversation about sex and the media.   (Plot summary from Publisher’s Weekly)


Although I’m not a parent, I am HIGHLY concerned about the sexualization of children – not just girls but boys, too.  I truly believe that the sexualization of children is one of the primary reasons we have such rampant self-esteem issues these days.  Kids are just too young and naive to really understand all the insanely mixed and negative messages that the media sends them. 


The book discusses how the current atmosphere has changed and why sexualization of children is different today than it was 30 or 40 years ago.  Key topics include how marketers use sex and violence to capture children’s attention, drive a wedge between them and parents (so they nag their parents into buying them things and their parents feel guilty so they give in), and how sexualization of children in the media retards natural sexual development. Perhaps most shocking for me was learning that most young tweens engage in 6.5 hours of “screen time” (TV, Internet, phone) EVERY DAY.  I couldn’t believe this fact!  


Some of the things that I liked in the book:


  • S4 doesn’t blame parents or schools for the sexualization of children.  It’s not so easy to just “say no” when your kids want things.  As S4 says, saying no doesn’t shield children completely from negative message in the media (they can get it at schools, shopping malls, at friends’ houses) and it also doesn’t help children understand the messages.  Saying no without explanation also makes children feel guilty when they do see movies or shows their parents disapprove of and makes them less likely to ask questions if they are confused.


  • There are sample scripts on what to say to kids when they ask certain questions (one script is what to say when a little girl says she’s fat and wants to be ‘sexy’). 


  • The authors offer tons of examples of “gender-neutral open play” games that young children can engage in without free of negative messaging from corporate giants.


  • There is also an entire chapter on how to work with other parents and schools to reduce negative messages in media without looking like a prude or an insane helicopter parent.


  • I loved how the book recommended that adults watch the child’s favorite shows and listen to their music so they can stay “with it” and relevant.  I think this is very, very important!


I wish S4 had MORE scripted examples of things to say to children.  Although I understood the basic premises (don’t inject your opinion right away, ask open ended questions, don’t punish them), I personally need a lot more specific coaching examples.  Also, my attention started to wane in the later chapters (which were about dealing with teenagers), but I also didn’t think those chapters were very applicable to me.  Parents with older children would probably appreciate it.


All in all – it was a really good read.  I think this would be an excellent resource for parents, teachers, or anyone who volunteers with children.


Has anyone else read So Sexy So Soon?  What are your thoughts on these issues?



  • Evan Thomas January 20, 2011, 9:36 pm

    This is random but the Atlanta airport is my FAVORITE. They have so many weird displays. I think they have some of the original muppets in one of the terminals.

  • Sana January 20, 2011, 9:38 pm

    I think it was all the greasy food that just made you body feel ick! Whenever that happens I chugg water or chew gum!

  • Alyssa January 20, 2011, 9:40 pm

    Yeah, restaurants like Chili’s have become waaaaay cheap, especially in the quality of the food and the amount they give you. Sorry it made you guys feel gross 🙁

  • Whitney January 20, 2011, 9:45 pm

    I’m definitely going to donate…that’s an amazing story!

  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) January 20, 2011, 9:46 pm

    True story: during long layovers at Hartsfield, I have done laps totaling up to 4 miles of walking between the terminals.

  • maria @ Chasing the Now January 20, 2011, 9:49 pm

    Sounds like a great read. That story is touching and I hope those kids get their new track.

  • LindzGreerIndy January 20, 2011, 9:52 pm

    Chili’s, Applebee’s and all the others that are the same restaurant with different names make me feel the same way. It’s almost impossible to make a healthy choice there…hope you got to feeling better!

    As a mother to a 2 year old little girl, it scares the ever living crap out of me to even think about what society will be like when she becomes a tween. I think I see a day at Barnes & Noble in my future.

  • Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) January 20, 2011, 9:52 pm

    I hope the school gets their track! Oh and inlove walking through the Atlanta airport. My husband thinks I am crazy for it. As for the book, I have not read it, but am intrigued. I am concerned about this since my boys are almost 10 and 12. I feel like there is too much exposure everywhere! You can’t even walk throughthe mall without seeing half naked men and women in underwear. I don’t shelter my children because that doesn’t help either. I have found that being open with them and letting them know I am always here for them really keeps the lines of communication open. I can’t hide them from this stuff because it is everywhere and that will lead to secrets with them. I do watch there shows and talk with them about things I hear. Communication is the key.

  • Kristina @ life as kristina January 20, 2011, 9:57 pm

    What a great story! I’m in for a donation!

    I spot a Chili’s chips n salsa-so gooood when you’re devouring them….the aftermath…just not as much fun! Hope you feel better!

  • Maddie (Healthy Maddie) January 20, 2011, 10:05 pm

    Sorry about the bad dinner! I hope you feel better and have a safe flight.

  • Mary @ Bites and Bliss January 20, 2011, 10:06 pm

    I LOVE long layovers!! Seriously, exploring airports is one of my favorite parts about traveling. 🙂 Glad you had a safe trip!

  • Ashley January 20, 2011, 10:09 pm

    Greasy airport food = no good! What a great idea to walk off dinner like that, though!

  • Kate (What Kate is Cooking) January 20, 2011, 10:13 pm

    That book sounds so good! What a scary subject, though. It makes me nervous about having daughters!

  • Sara (Miles & Manhattan) January 20, 2011, 10:23 pm

    Ohh i can sooo relate. We spent NYE in the LAX terminal at chilis. The highlight was when they ID-ed me for my wine. Made me feel young inside. The bad part? Everything else including the food 🙂

  • Mrs. Muffins January 20, 2011, 10:24 pm

    I definitely want to read this book now! I have a little girl (almost 2 years old) and I worry a lot about the sexualization of EVERYTHING in our society. I know how things were in my own childhood and teen years and it really seems as though things are much worse just a few years later. I’m glad to see that many women are taking a stance on these issues and bringing light to something we’ve put off for so long.

  • Cheryl H. January 20, 2011, 10:24 pm


    I just posted a challenge to all my friends on Facebook to donate just $5 to the W.S. Neal High School track and for them to do the same with their friends. I would hope that something like this can become viral and get them the money they need.

  • Michelle January 20, 2011, 10:25 pm

    First time commenter here!

    First off, I hate the Atlanta airport. I used to have layovers there all the time and blergh!

    Secondly – I think the sexualization of our youth is SOOOO scary. I have two kids and I really want them to enjoy being kids for as long as they can – but it seems almost impossible these days.

    One of my best friends is a first grade teacher and last year for Christmas she got a Victoria’s Secret shirt from a student that said “SEXY” on it in sparkly letters. FIRST GRADE! She opened the shirt in front of the kids and of course (because they can read) they all said, “What’s Sexy?” I think her response was something like “it means pretty and smart” but she was just completely shocked. Kids see and react to so many things that we aren’t aware of. It freaks me out! I’m definitely going to have to check out that book.

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) January 20, 2011, 10:30 pm

    That story about the school breaks my heart, but at the same time, inspires me. I will definitely be making a contribution! 😀

    S4 sounds really interesting. I’ll definitely check it out!

  • Christine January 20, 2011, 10:41 pm

    Thanks for the review of the S4. I definitely plan to try and read it at some point, not as parent, but as a high school teacher. It’s crazy to see how the kids dress and act, and how they have to constantly struggle between fitting in and wanting to hold on to their youth. For example, I have a junior who wears extremely low cut shirts, flirts with the boys, and does God knows what else who sat and colored flyers for me at lunch for thirty minutes the other day. Colored! It was great, but a little sad too.

  • Cara January 20, 2011, 10:42 pm

    So glad to hear S4 was a good read. It is absolutely something I have noticed about our culture. Looking at kids even a few grades younger than me, I realized they were experiencing things wayyyy earlier than I ever did. As someone who hopes to have kids in the future it is frightening, and I am glad it is being brought to attention. Thanks for sharing this book!

  • Christine @wtfdoor January 20, 2011, 10:49 pm

    Another reason to be terrified of raising children. My son will be starting kindergarten later this year, and I am starting to feel really anxious, like I’m in over my head.

  • nicole January 20, 2011, 11:10 pm

    It sounds like an interesting read! 6.5 hours of screen time… I think there is something needs to be done to change that, like parental involvement.
    I’m tentatively planning on running the OC marathon too! I’d love to help out with the cause.

  • Kelly January 20, 2011, 11:14 pm

    I was just in that same restaurant (to remain nameless) in the ATL airport a few weeks ago on our flight to Orlando. I always feel unsatisfied or icky when I leave these types of restaurants. I’m very interested in how to protect my future children from over-sexualization too. As a former teacher, I’m all too well aware of how it affects adolescents and I don’t want my kids going through that if at all possible.

  • Gretchen January 20, 2011, 11:14 pm

    I had Chili’s for dinner for social reasons (definitely not ever my first choice in restaurants) after my last class of last semester, and I also felt icky afterward…so I’m blaming Chili’s. Ughh, no food should make anyone feel like that.

  • Kate @ Walking in the Rain January 20, 2011, 11:18 pm

    S4 sounds like an interesting read. I would also add also reading books teens are interested in. That way you can have discussions regarding the subject matter and kids are still encouraged to read.

  • Camille January 21, 2011, 12:17 am

    I am really interested in reading that book. Though I am not a parent and won’t be for some time, this is definitely a concern of mine if I were to have a girl. Thanks for the review, consider it added to my Amazon cart!

  • Niki January 21, 2011, 12:23 am

    I am really intrigued by the concepts of S4 and will definitely be checking the book out! I think it’s also important to note the role sex plays in our society and not only how it affects our children but adults as well. I really enjoyed the documentary “Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex and Power in Music Video” and think it would be an interesting resource for you to check out (if you haven’t already!)

  • Mandiee January 21, 2011, 12:27 am

    What a wonderful story about Amanda’s friend! I really appreciate everything that adults do to help my generation. Speaking of which, I am 16 but am also very concerned about the sexualization of children as well. It’s appalling how racy the media has become even from the time I was a pre-teen. Luckily, I am apart of a small program at my school that tries to give younger girls positive high school role models. We meet with a small group every month and talk about issues that pertain to their lives. Of course we don’t always stay on topic, but more than anything, I think it’s the bonds that we are building that matter. I hope that we are showing them that it’s possible to be true to who they are. Regardless, the girls inspire me everyday!

    Have a lovely day!

    P.S. Now that I think of it, it would be absolutely amazing if you could come to talk to them. Of course I would have to arrange it, but would you be up for that? You are such an inspiration to me, and I think you would really teach them a lot, too. I even mentioned Operation Beautiful to my group last year :)!

    • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 11:04 am

      So fun! Where are you located?

      • Mandiee January 21, 2011, 1:31 pm

        My school is in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan.

        • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 1:40 pm

          I can’t do events that require travel for pro bono but if you want to email me at operationbeautiful@gmail.com we can talk about options!

  • Amanda January 21, 2011, 12:35 am

    Last time I was at Chili’s (social occasion) I didn’t know what to order….. as in: nothing was appealing to me. I believe I had indigestion when I left.

    The sexualization of children really bugs me. Every time I’m at the mall….. *sigh. It’s really disgusting that the media targets them with only profit in mind.

  • Leah @ Why Deprive? January 21, 2011, 12:56 am

    That sounds like a really interesting read. The stuff out there these days, the things kids have to deal with, it breaks my heart. I overhear young girls at the mall talking about things that I didn’t know about at their age. Its not right.

  • Heather I. January 21, 2011, 1:03 am

    Great review of S4, it sounds quite intriguing! I highly recommend you read “Girls on the Edge”, by Leonard Sax. I just finished it- couldn’t put it down! It totally goes along with your (and my own) concerns about the sexualization in our society. Sometimes, I just want to shelter my little babe for the rest of her life 😉

  • Heather I. January 21, 2011, 1:03 am

    Great review of S4, it sounds quite intriguing! I highly recommend you read “Girls on the Edge”, by Leonard Sax. I just finished it- couldn’t put it down! It totally goes along with your (and my own) concerns about the sexualization in our society. Sometimes, I just want to shelter my little babe for the rest of her life 😉

  • DadHTP January 21, 2011, 1:06 am

    This issue isn’t new – there was quite an argument about MTV in HTP Household.

    • Baking 'n' Books January 21, 2011, 7:48 am

      Yeah, I just seen on The Today Show this a.m about the MTV show “Skins” being controversial as being ‘child pornography’. I never seen it though but not surprised.

      • D January 21, 2011, 9:21 am

        Skins is well known in the UK for bringing light to important issues for youth, and yes that includes sexuality. The idea of it being child pornography is totally ridiculous, and shows that the problems with sexualization are definitely an American one. I believe that the concerns with young children are definitely more universal, but this ‘fear’ of sexuality tends to continue into the children’s teenage years. I totally agree that the sexualization of very young children is a real problem, but you can’t just slap an arbitrary age on things (meaning 18 as the age of consent) and then say that if a 17 year old is on a show about sexual topics, then it’s pornography. Children don’t suddenly become appropriately sexual at 18 years old. Women start menstruating in the early teen years for a real biological reason, and that is because their bodies are primed to be secreting hormones and mating. No, we shouldn’t encourage sexual relations in the early teen years. But I think it’s important to realize that it’s about effectively preparing kids early on for being able to handle hormones, etc, and not just assuming that a) anyone under the age of 18 is completely unequipped to handle sexual matters and b) as soon as they turn 18, they are magically “allowed” to mature. I think that dealing with the ‘ in between age’ (say 14-18) is just as important as the really young years. Great discussion 🙂

        • Baking 'n' Books January 21, 2011, 10:37 am

          Interesting – like I said, I haven’t seen the show. Just have heard about ‘controversy’ on the news. But surprise, surprise – doesn’t the media love to blow everything up?! 🙂

  • Leila @ spinach and skittles January 21, 2011, 1:31 am

    As a middle school teacher I am in shock everyday with what the kids show up to school wearing. Lately it’s been too short tutus over leggings (say whaaa? That can’t be comfortable!). Luckily our school has a donation based thrift shop on campus where we can give kids appropriate tops/bottoms to swap out. Thanks for the book review and rec, I’ll be picking up a copy.

  • Eliza January 21, 2011, 6:33 am

    Naomi Wolf wrote an excellent book about young women’s sexual development called Promiscuities that is a good one to get into if you’re interested in this. It discusses the idea that girls develop sexually in the subjective- that is, they make sense of their sexual identity through the gaze of others (men). The role that the media plays in this has been one of my focuses in my work and education. The connection between violence against women and images of women in the media is something Jean Kilbourne has done an incredible job highlighting. The company that produces Killing Us Softly has some other great titles. I really like Generation M, and their documentary on pornography. Plus, Tough Guise is kind of the “film bible” for masculinity-related work. I love this stuff (I mean, I don’t love it- I find it fascinating and loving mentally chewing on it)!

  • Rebecca January 21, 2011, 6:34 am

    I am so touched by your blog post b/c that is my track team! Through my experience of coaching a team in poverty, I am still constantly touched by the kindness and generosity of strangers. I will continue to work tireless towards my goal of having the track fixed. They are an incredible group of kids with big hearts and great work ethic. I have been truly blessed to have them in my life. In fact, the picture surrounding the table is one of my athletes that signed a full college scholarship for the triple jump. He was the first person in his family to go to college. He is there now and set a school record in preseason!

    Once again, I really appreciate you writing about us. Every little bit does help. I do have a blog. It is mixture of my own running, coaching, and life experiences. The whole “track story” is there, too.

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!

    • Baking 'n' Books January 21, 2011, 8:04 am

      I thought it was you she was writing about! Amazing – do you know Angela then who contacted Caitlin?

      • Ashley January 21, 2011, 10:42 am

        Baking n Books — That would be me. 🙂 I know the coach through Runners World and we’re trying to get the team the track that they need.

        To all — THANK YOU THANK YOU for all your wonderful, kind and generous donations!! Waking up to so many donation emails this morning was an amazing surprise!

        • Baking 'n' Books January 21, 2011, 10:43 am

          You’ve got a good soul Ashley.

        • molly l January 21, 2011, 12:16 pm

          Hi Ashley! I am so excited to see that you posted here in the comments section. I’m running the OC Marathon too (MY FIRST!!!) and I was touched by your fundraising as part of your training as well. I would love to get in touch with you and perhaps talk about training and the big day. I live in San Diego. Thanks for all you’re doing!

        • Ashley January 21, 2011, 1:23 pm

          Hi Molly!
          I would love to talk to you about training and racing. I also live in San Diego, in Ocean Beach. Feel free to shoot me an email at ashleykmaus@gmail.com

    • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 11:03 am

      Thank YOU Rebecca!

  • Marie-Journey to Body Zen January 21, 2011, 6:49 am

    I really want to read this book now! Thanks for posting the review!

  • Lauren January 21, 2011, 6:52 am

    Towards the end of my vacations, I start to feel gross too no matter what I eat. I think our bodies just crave our normal veggies and meals.
    Safe trip home girl!!

  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey January 21, 2011, 7:15 am

    I have not read that book, but I would love to as a fifth grade teacher. I also have a 9 yr old niece who lived with her mother for the majority of her life. It was not a good home situation, and well, she was exposed to far too much for her little eyes. I think this would be good for my sister and brother in law to read!

  • Casey January 21, 2011, 7:27 am

    Thanks for the review. I haven’t read it, nor do I have any children (other than my dog and cat). However, when I read this, I immediately thought of the new show on MTV called Skins. I didn’t watch it, but I saw the commercials for it. Holy heck! I hate to judge it without watching, but it looks horrible. I think it is definitely an example of this issue.

    • katy {of} katy loves. January 21, 2011, 8:48 am

      I just came here to comment on that! I couldn’t sleep one night and caught the first ten minutes or so, it’s pretty appalling that they target young kids with this show. Even down to the cheerleading costumes that are practically sports bras as tops and some other details. I had to change the channel. Then, finding out on the Today show that most of the stars are under 18? I wish kids could be kids a little longer than the media is letting them be.

      • D January 21, 2011, 9:33 am

        I responded to another comment about this show higher on the page. Skins is really known in the UK (the USA version is adapted) for dealing with important, relevant issues for young people, like mental illness, broken families, etc. And yes, it deals with sex. What is it about the age 18 that makes it suddenly okay to be sexual?

        A 17 year old might be considered young ONLY because society has labelled him/her that way. Biologically, physically, etc. they are an adult and they are a sexual being. There is nothing wrong with letting a 17 year old be exposed to sexual topics or to star in this show, or to god forbid, BE sexual. The problem is when kids aren’t educated when they are much younger and so they get to this age and become irresponsible and immature. There is no difference between a 15 year old girl and an 18 year old guy in the sense that they are both at sexual peaks and both at the same level of maturity, more or less. But society says that the girl is completely innocent and shouldn’t even dream about sex, while the 18 year old is a predator. But a 17 year old boy is too young for sex? So he turns 18 and is suddenly a man? It doesn’t work like that!! I feel like there is this American tendency to avoid sexual progression in youth. Either they are too young and should be shielded, or they are suddenly a man/woman and totally emotionally and physically prepared for sex. Well unless you expose them to healthy examples earlier on (or have shows that discuss sex – and other issues – in a REAL way), how are they going to be emotionally prepared? A lot of parents are complaining about Skins, but honestly, they aren’t going to be able to prevent their children watching porn if they want to. Wouldn’t you rather teenagers be learning about/seeing REAL sexual issues?

        • katy {of} katy loves. January 21, 2011, 9:47 am

          You raise some really good points and I understand where you are coming from and respect your opinion completely. From the parts I saw, which (I admit) wasn’t much, I thought that certain details were a little too sexually explicit for the sake of being sexually explicit, not necessarily for being “real life”. I know that 18 isn’t the magical number but, let’s be honest, there are younger kids watching this show and being advertised to. Kids that are younger than 15. I don’t think you should shield teenagers from this topic at all, but there are better ways then showing a really sexually explicit show on public television and straight out advertising to younger kids. I think parents need to get more involved and bring the issue up more, but obviously not every parent is the same. Yes, there are plenty of downfalls with sexual education in America, but I don’t think this is necessarily the answer. That’s just my honest opinion, really. If this helps teens, then great. I might be totally off base, but that was what I got from the show and the advertising for it!

        • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 11:02 am

          I think the problem with shows like SKINS is that people watching th show probably range from 10 – 50. For maturer audiences, it’s OK, it’s just the tweens that are watching a show about HIGH SCHOOLERS (who they look up to). Bad news bears.

    • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 11:03 am

      Also, I read last night that the producers are actually concerned they are going to get slammed with children porn violations because the FCC is freaking out and the authors are underage.

      • D January 21, 2011, 11:34 am

        I’m actually responding to your comment above this btw 🙂

        So my point is (I think I might have written this in a different comment response further down the page).. is WHY WHY WHY are 10 year olds watching this? Sorry, but that’s got nothing to do with the media trying to sexualize children. That’s just really terrible, lazy parenting. It’s so easy to say, “oh there’s so much bad influence out there” but at what point do people step in and say “let me change what I can RIGHT NOW and that is preventing my child from watching it if I think it’s bad for them”. Who is responsible for children? The media? No. PARENTS!

        • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 11:37 am

          Agree…. People have given me hell for not being “responsible” in our blogging (case in point, Marie Claire article). I believe I am responsible, as I’m sure MTV does by labeling their shows with age warnings and showing it at night, but people still freak out. Do we as a society need to take more personal responsibility? Yes, I think so!

        • Carolyn @ one lazy bride January 22, 2011, 10:32 am

          I have not yet seen the American version of Skins but am definitely a fan of the British version. I can 100% see why people find it controversial and inappropriate for children. Again, I don’t know about the US version but in the UK I think it is intended for teens – like it’s been said, parents should and do have some part of the responsibility.

          Skins is meant to be controversial – it is meant to show teens as people. As individuals – not mini adults to be crafted and defined by their parents or teachers or even the media. They have profound thoughts and feelings that parents, teachers, the media and society as a whole does not often give them credit for. And those thoughts and feelings are quite often sexual and need not be hushed or punished, but should be accepted as natural. As Caitlin has said, there is a danger in sheltering the group we define as children too much.

          I agree that the sexualization of children today is a problem, but I think targeting Skins is missing the point a little. The problem is appealling to their natural sexual instincts without respecting them as autonomous individuals who love and lust and hurt just like us “mature adults” do. The media often fails to respect youth, and sexualises them while taking away their agency and dignity. That is what truly disturbs me. Skins – acted by real teens, not 24 year olds like many American shows, and even sometimes written by teens – is attempting to give youth a voice in a media that largely assumes they are empty vessels to be molded into an army of sexualises conserist drones.

          Plus most characters on Skins suffer for getting too far out of their depth – sex is not necessarily portrayed as a positive means of expression, nor a necessarily negative one. It is a choice, and media, parents, teachers and role models need to help youth realize that sex and having sexual thoughts or desires does not make you good or bad, it makes you human – it’s making the right choices for you that is important.

          Again, I haven’t seen US Skins so it may just be sex for sex’s sake. I’d be interested to see what I think.

          Sorry that was a long rant but I feel strongly about it and am glad to see you (Caitlin) are working to give youth the sense of agency and respect they are often denied.

        • Carolyn @ one lazy bride January 22, 2011, 10:36 am

          That’s supposed to be “sexualised consumerist drones.” Sorry – first time using an iPhone!

        • Caitlin January 22, 2011, 11:35 am

          Carolyn – Great comment!!!!

  • Beth January 21, 2011, 7:46 am

    I think this book could be interesting, but I suspect that for most children (girls in particular) media is not the only source of their insecurity. Take me for example. I led a VERY sheltered life as a child (extremely limited/restricted tv, movies, toys, etc–I for example, never saw an R rated movie until I was 17 and I wasn’t allowed to watch Punky Brewster or the Simpsons because the kids were “bad”). But I still picked up serious body image issues from my mother. I still to this day, hear her in my head telling young me that she only weighed 95 pounds on her wedding day, didn’t that make her beautiful? And that she was only 98 when she got pregnant with me. Her standing in front of the mirror checking her fat…yeah, that sticks with you. And she’ll still make comments about it, which starts the whole cycle over again.

    That’s why Operation Beautiful is so important. If we want to keep this stuff from transfering to our kids, we have to LIVE IT.

    • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 11:00 am

      Oh god, I’m sorry about the mixed messages your mom sent you!

    • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine January 21, 2011, 11:13 am

      “That’s why Operation Beautiful is so important. If we want to keep this stuff from transfering to our kids, we have to LIVE IT.” <——LOVE this!

    • Jamie January 21, 2011, 11:55 am

      I too was a pretty sheltered kid but picked up TONS of body insecurities from my mom. She is constantly picking at herself and was always dieting. She would tell me that I looked like s*&% and that “at least I had a pretty face”. I never was extremely overweight either! As a teen I developed an eating disorder and still struggle today (at 28). I think parents have a HUGE impact on their kids self esteem

      • Beth January 21, 2011, 12:27 pm

        Jamie, my mom does stuff like this to THIS day. She recently sat my sister down to talk about her weight gain, and will often comments to me if she thinks I’ve lost or gained weight. I have NEVER in my life been overweight–I’m 5’3, 120 pounds, just ran a half marathon. But my mom is also obsessed with her own weight. She’s constantly on a new diet, trying to have the body she had when she was 25.

        I just think it’s important for us all to remember, that there is a really fine balance between living a healthy lifestyle and obsessing about weight. I know so many women that constantly talk about that last 5 or 10 pounds. Kids pick up on that, and I think it translates to “you should never be happy with your body.” And that kind of thinking takes a lifetime to go away. I’m 29 and I still struggle.

        • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 12:37 pm

          I love the saying “life doesn’t start 5 pounds from now” because its so true.

        • Beth January 21, 2011, 12:42 pm

          Caitlin–that is such a great saying! I like my sister in law’s approach. She never talks about weight in front of her kids, but she is taking up running (we just signed up for a half together in September) and she explains it to her kids as “mommy’s time”. And she’s incorporating healthier foods without making a big deal of it, so the kids don’t notice.

  • Jodi January 21, 2011, 8:04 am

    You have definitely touched on something that I have been worried about for some time. I don’t have children of my own but my sister and best friends have children and honestly ever since the explosion Britney Spears (sorry to call her out) it’s been on my mind, what we are projecting to our youth about what an empowered and sexy “woman” looks like and behaves like. back when i was in school (i’m 33) sex was an issue for sure but we still had our level of innocence. My baby sister is 8 years younger than me and i saw the difference even in how she grew up. the clothes and the boys, it just took on a whole other level and it worried me even then. i think it’s a huge, huge issue that isn’t nearly being addressed enough. I am very curious about reading this book and happy to see a dialouge out there about this. i think kids are confused, they are becoming adults far too early, they are not spending enough time connecting with eachother meaningfully and spending too much time on cell phones and the internet. it’s tough to know what to do b/c you can’t just cut those things out of life being in the modern world and all but monitoring the time and having a really open dialouge seems like the only way to counteract the pervasive images that are all geared towards children and teens. its scary but i think the more we talk about it and the more we heal our own issues with our bodies, the better off our children (or future children) will be.

  • megan @ blackberries for jam January 21, 2011, 8:08 am

    Great book review! I know what you mean about the “icky” feeling you get from Airport food. It happens to me whenever I eat at airport chain restaurants. I’m always amazing that even a veggie burger can make you feel terrible!

  • Elizabeth @ The Sweet Life January 21, 2011, 8:15 am

    That looks like a Chilis to me! Bottomless tostata chips? We used to get those all the time until we, too, realized they made us feel gross.

  • Tina January 21, 2011, 8:19 am

    I LOVE Jean Kilbourne! But I’d give her stuff on teens another chance–with you coaching Girls on the Run, I can totally see the potential that you’d have a kid who starts the program with the run intentions (eg: “I want to be skinny”).

    Thanks for giving JK a shout out. I hope more people become familiar with her!

  • BeePie Runs January 21, 2011, 8:34 am

    Thank you for introducing me to this book and author! I have two girls (and another one on the way). Even tho we’re very careful about what they are exposed to and try to have open conversations, you’re absolutely right that they are bombarded with mixed messages all the time. We can’t totally shelter and protect them, but we can give them the tools to have a healthy outlook. I’m definitely getting this book!

  • Nicole @ yuppie yogini January 21, 2011, 8:43 am

    What an important issue. I’m glad you wrote this post. As far as scripts go, that’s what I spend a lot of time doing with people in therapy. Even if you have scripts in books, which is very useful, it also helps to work with a therapist or trusted friend to develop personalized scripts. I think the moral support is also necessary because these types of conversations are uncomfortable for many parents.

  • Melissa @ Be Not Simply Good January 21, 2011, 9:02 am

    Thank you for the S4 review. Like I said the other day, I think kids should be kids, not rushing to be “sexy.” I really should read it.

  • Kara January 21, 2011, 9:11 am

    That sounds like a good book, I might need to get that! It’s hard to imagine that my 7 month old baby will ever want to be “sexy” but I know it’s not as far away as I’d like! I mean, just look at Disney princess…they have huge racks! 🙂

    • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 10:59 am

      Hhahah very huge racks.

  • Gracie (complicated day) January 21, 2011, 9:14 am

    I haven’t read the book, but I’ve see the problem. Times have changed even since I was a kid, and that wasn’t very long ago! Even innocent things like cartoons and Disney movies have become so much more sexualized.

  • Ashley January 21, 2011, 9:22 am

    I’m 18 so I definitely remember the first time I learned what sex and it wasn’t from my parents. I remember being in my 6th grade math class and a girl telling me about her “first time” a year before. In my fifth grade class a girl was pregnant. And pregnancy was rampant at my middle school. I watched Paradise Island when I was 9 and my ultimate goal in life was “to be sexy.” I can definitely relate to this book from the child’s perspective. I was very independent and I thought I was a mature adult and I shouldn’t be limited in what I did. Luckily I didn’t have sex or drink, or do drugs even though I was exposed to such many things saying I should, and my peers for that matter. I’m so happy you’re covering this subject on HTP, my thoughts are really scattered about this right now, but I would really love your thoughts about the book and I’m definitely going to buy and read it, because now that I look back being 12 is a child, and not nearly as grown up as I thought it was when I was that age.

  • Caroline January 21, 2011, 9:35 am

    My alma mater put those signs in! With help from my oh-so-hot astronomy professor… *sigh* Best trip to Europe ever 😀
    Okay, moment of excitement over!

  • D January 21, 2011, 9:42 am

    I think that parents overestimate the influence of the media and underestimate the influence of what goes on in the household. When I was growing up I definitely remember there being shows/music/movies that I knew were ‘inappropriate’. And like all kids I heard about sex and everything from people at school, and so on. But, my parents were extremely strict, and I can honestly say that it worked in preventing issues like this. It seems like a lot of people are scared to be strict because they think that their child will rebel. Well, maybe some kids do, but that’s not a reason to get lazy about enforcing certain rules just because you want to be nice. I certainly never rebelled against the strict rules that my parents had, so no, it’s not some standard rule that kids will go off the rails if you dare enforce boundaries.

    I wasn’t allowed to watch tv after a certain time. My mother had to approve any and all magazines I bought. I wasn’t allowed a computer in my room until I was much older, and so I had to sit and use the computer in the family room, so you can be sure I wasn’t reading or looking at anything questionable. One time my mom said I could rent a movie from Blockbuster and I got one that I didn’t really know about, and it was actually The Sweetest Thing. I was way too young for that movie at the time, and, honest to god, of my own free will, I turned it off and went and told my mom “I don’t think you’d want me to watch this” and gave it back to her. I wasn’t allowed to dress a certain way or wear makeup until I was a bit older, etc. And it worked. No matter what I eventually saw in the media, or no matter what everyone was complaining was in the media, I never felt like there were any issues of ‘sexualization’. Yeah, theres tons of stuff out there that probably isn’t great for super young kids, but at the end of the day, it’s the parents who really control what the children are seeing.

    • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 10:57 am

      Love this comment. My parents were also strict with me and I feel that it helped me turn out for the better. The Husband’s parents were very lax and I feel sad for him sometimes because he experienced things he shouldn’t have too early.

  • Kerris @ Baby, Be Fit! January 21, 2011, 9:43 am

    Oooo I’ve had that ‘icky’ feeling before as well. Although I’m still trying to get over the guilt feelings that sometimes follow with a meal like that. That’s awesome that you don’t feel that guilt! 🙂

  • Kathie @ Frugal, Fit and Fabulous January 21, 2011, 9:43 am

    Sounds like a great read and one I am especially intersted in as I have a daughter who just turned three and the future is very concerning to me as I do not want her to be influenced as much (if not more than) the way they are going nowadays.

    That story is touching and I hope those kids get the funding the need for the repairs and materials they need.

  • Karen January 21, 2011, 10:09 am

    I haven’t read the book, but I am totally aware of the problem and will be checking the book out next time I’m in Barnes and Noble.
    I actually wrote my own blog post about this problem after i found out about Tatoo Barbie. And did you know they sell lingerie for Barbie?! I’m talking thigh highs and bustiers! It’s sickening.
    I don’t have a daughter, but as you said, this is definitely a concern for boys too. I’ll be curious to see what recommendations Kilbourne has to offer.

    • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 10:55 am

      YES! They talk about Lingerie Barbie in th book. I seriously wouldn’t have believed it if I had seen it with my own eyes!

  • Ashley P (The Vegetable Life) January 21, 2011, 10:16 am

    I have not read that book but now I want to. I am going to add it to my reading list for this year! Thanks!

  • Caitie January 21, 2011, 10:38 am

    Thank you so much for reviewing S4 — even in 2002, as the President of my high school’s Peer Mediation program (2500 kids, all from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds…they needed a lot of mediation!), we saw a TON of conflicts arise out of disrespect for boundaries, both physical and emotional; even when it didn’t appear to be the apparent cause, it was usually part of the underlying issue. Of course, how can we blame kids for not knowing the appropriate way to act towards themselves and each other when the media and corporate conglomerates are doing everything they can to teach them that there are no limits or boundaries?

    We led a summit one day, which all of the sophomore English classes were required to attend, on the portrayal of sex, body and gender in the teen mass market — pictures, videos, role-play, testimonials, hypothetical scenarios — and had counselors on standby for anyone who felt the need to speak up afterward. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life, and I’m glad it’s finally getting more wide-spread attention. I’ll definitely be checking out the book now that you have had such great things to say!

    • Caitlin January 21, 2011, 10:55 am

      Great comment and thanks for all you do with girls and boys!

  • MelanieF January 21, 2011, 10:42 am

    That’s a bummer about your meal. It really doesn’t look like a good meal from your pictures either.

  • Jessica M January 21, 2011, 10:44 am

    That sounds like an interesting book. It would be helpful for parents or future parents out there.

    I think its really hard to say what the solution is. I think the best you can do is show a child love and support, be honest with them, and encourage them to pursue their interests/hobbies (healthy ones). If children have hobbies and a great support system, they may be less likely to become sexually active too young (or participate in any other potentially unhealthy/harmful activites).

  • Kati January 21, 2011, 10:50 am

    Thanks for filling us in on the situation at W.S. Neal High School..very sad that so many schools and their programs are chronically underfunded. Where are our priorities? Anyway..just donated!

  • DeAnna January 21, 2011, 11:04 am

    Chilis uses lard to fry their chips. I asked once because I’ve made that mistake at other restaurants and since I’ve gone vegan lard is unbelievably rough on my stomach. I ask it everywhere we go when ordering chips now because I get so sick. I’m thinking that’s what made you both feel gross. I usually get the fajitas without meat when we go there, with rice and beans.

  • Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine January 21, 2011, 11:10 am

    First of all…I love Chili’s. It’s kind of gross and greasy, but there was one right by my high school and we’d all congregate there on afternoons to eat skillet queso and molten chocolate cake. Just imagine 20 girls in plaid skirts descending on that place at once…needless to say, they knew us by name. Such good memories there 🙂

    I can absolutely relate to that book. My adolescence was a really, really tough time for me because I never felt like the pretty one. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was nearly 16, which made me feel like an outcast, and I think that the media had a lot to do with that…plenty of my friends hadn’t kissed anyone either, but I felt like I was still such a kid (which I was!). Fortunately when I finally got my first boyfriend he made me feel very special and never pressured me in any negative ways, so I didn’t feel like I had to “prove” anything, but if I hadn’t been so lucky I think my low self-esteem at the time might have led me to do some things I would have regretted. You’re right that the sexualization of children concerns both girls AND boys, because in most teenage relationships (or even just friendships) one person is usually the more influential one. Just as society sends a message that girls should be “sexy”, it also sends a message to boys that having sex is a way to assert your masculinity. It’s a really sticky situation, but I honestly think that in many situations, schools and peers have way more influence than parents do. My parents were very lax in disciplining both me and my brother, but we each went to rather sheltered schools, which, while kind of a bubble, didn’t make it a negative quality to be “good.”

    Sorry for the long, kind of pointless comment- it’s just a thought-provoking post!!

  • Jess@atasteofconfidence January 21, 2011, 11:25 am

    I loved the story about the track team. It is awesome she has coached them to championships!

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans January 21, 2011, 11:29 am

    I definitely think that the media and corporations should take responsibility for the messages that are aimed at children and teens but I also think parent’s need to be involved in educating their children and helping them navigate the conflicting messages that come their way.

    I played with Barbie growing up but I was taught that my self-worth was NOT determined by a tiny waist and blond hair (thank goodness because I have neither!)I thank my parents and grand parents for that!.

  • Susan - Nurse on the Run January 21, 2011, 11:44 am

    I love the bit about the coach and the track team because I read her blog…she’s very inspirational and SUPER fast!

  • Amber K January 21, 2011, 12:17 pm

    My oldest niece is seven and she is very much a follower, which really scares me. Her mom and I have talked about how easily influenced she is. Thank you for this in depth book review. I’m going to have to see if I can find a copy of this book!

  • Carina January 21, 2011, 2:30 pm

    You should read Unhooked by Laura Sessions Stepp. It talks about how parents in some ways unwittingly encourage girls to “hook up” because girls are being taught that they should focus on school and getting into a good college, and being in a relationship is seen as taking away from their other focuses and a bad thing. So instead kids choose to hook up. Insanely interesting — and of course I loved the analysis about the impact that sports/running can have on this. I’d definitely recommend it for you b/c of your work on your new book and w/ GOTR — particularly relevant!!

    • Carina January 21, 2011, 2:35 pm

      Oh, and I should add, I haven’t read S4, but I read Can’t Buy My Love by Kilbourne about 5 yrs ago. Even w/o kids, it’s always been an interesting topic for me!

    • Carina January 21, 2011, 2:37 pm

      I should add that I haven’t read S4, but about 5 yrs ago I read Can’t Buy My Love by Kilbourne. I don’t have kids, but it’s always been the sexualization of women (and children) in advertising has always been a topic that interests me.

      • Carina January 21, 2011, 2:38 pm

        Oops! Thought my first one didn’t post!

  • sarah k. @ the pajama chef January 21, 2011, 2:38 pm

    sounds like an interesting book!

  • Libbie January 21, 2011, 2:56 pm

    I practically live in the Atlanta airport since I’m from there and I travel A LOT for work, but I can’t say I’ve ever actually stopped to read the informational signs everywhere. It was fun to see the familiar carpet and moving walkways on your blog.

    Good for you for helping that track team. Growing up in small town Nebraska, we didn’t have a track, and really no schools except the ones in the bigger towns, had anything but a dirt path around the football field to practice on. These kids, and all kids, deserve better.

  • Emilie January 21, 2011, 6:34 pm

    S4 sounds like it’s definitely worth a read–I’d been hearing things about it here and there but I’m happy you reviewed it because it gave me a much better sense of the book. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

  • Nikki January 22, 2011, 8:30 am

    The Atlanta terminal is like a 5k! Definitely good for walking off greasy meals.

  • Kathy @ newlywedindc January 24, 2011, 8:43 am

    Hey, I saw this book review and thought of you and this post: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/books/review/Paul-t.html?ref=books It’s about the princess industry and how little girls are so ensconced in the princess world…I just read the book review but now I want to read the full book!

    • Caitlin January 24, 2011, 8:45 am

      Thanks for passing this along… there’s a bit in S4 about the princess phase!

  • Diana January 24, 2011, 3:48 pm

    Donated!! 🙂

    Also, I am so curious about that book! I ordered one off of Amazon to check out. I’m not a parent but this is an issue I feel SO strongly about and why I have such a problem with the celebrity worship we seem to have become accustomed to.

    I totally agree about the point of parents being into the same music/tv shows is a HUUUUGE deal. My mom went with me through my Hanson phase when I was 10, took me to concerts and embraced it so much that she still listens to the music. She also watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer with me!

  • Sara @ OurDogBuffy January 27, 2011, 10:27 pm

    I am all too familiar with that airport (ATL) and the way Chili’s food makes you feel. Ew. You took the words right out of my head.

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