Katie Price and the Dangers of Hypersexualization

Yesterday was A-Level results day, and for many young people across the UK it was a day of disappointment. Good thing the current tabloid fodder Josie Cunningham was on hand to offer the advice that if girls didn’t do as well as expected they could always make a career from escorting or getting naked. Inspiring stuff! I bet careers advisors everywhere were kicking themselves for having missed that one off the list of potential career paths.

Although this tweet was met with understandable outrage, there are deeper issues at stake. Josie is the latest in a long line of young women whose “celebrity status” comes from their willingness to expose every aspect of their lives to the media, often starting with their naked bodies. Josie’s notoriety stems from the NHS funding her boob job, and while body dysmorphia is often a lethal condition, she’s now mostly interested in maintaining her fame and emulating Katie Price. I can see why. After all, Cosmopolitan named Katie its “Ultimate ‘Be the best you can be’ Woman of the Year” in 2007 and her fortune stands at approximately £45 million.

Katie Price

Source: thesun.co.uk

Katie is often touted as the new icon of feminism and a good role model, but it’s her engagement in the cultural milieu of children that’s most worrying. Her range of ghostwritten books for the pre-teen market means that young girls are viewing her as a cultural icon. Katie Price is a force to be reckoned with, but her celebrity lifestyle is more of a warning of the dangers of hypersexualization and a lesson in how to establish a successful business empire based on boobs.

Price was all over the news earlier this year for the actions of her husband, Kieran Hayler. Having cheated on her with two of her best friends, she chose to stay with him for the sake of their two children. In the past, Price has said that she’s only “happy Katie” when she’s in a good relationship and can’t be happy single. This insecurity is understandable given the media’s emphasis on women’s looks and the pressure to fit the stereotypical roles of women as wives, or mothers. In fact, it’s safe to say that the ‘Katie Price Love story’ is the one I’ll be telling my future kids. Forget Disney’s chaste princesses; the modern girl needs to understand how the focus on women as sex objects is disastrous to personal relationships and mental health.

thylane-loubry-blondeau-vogue

Thylane Loubry Blondeau (source: itsybitsysteps.com)

There’s no watershed on the internet and young girls are likely to come across women being praised for their overtly sexualized roles more than ever. And I’m just as guilty as the next person. When talking with my female friends, we’re likely to say “I’d do her,” or “she’s such a babe” as a compliment about a female celebrity. It’s hardly ever the case that we express admiration for what they have worked so hard to achieve without referencing sexual attractiveness. A study by the Girl Guides in 2011 showed that 90% of girls believed that the portrayal of women in the media was focused on what they looked like rather than what they had achieved. This is all just par for the course but it needs addressing and it needs changing. France has taken the issue of hypersexualization so seriously that it banned child beauty pageants in the wake of ten-year-old Thylane Loubry Blondeau’s photos in French Vogue. We need to focus on praising young women for their talents and achievements, not their physical attractiveness. So congratulations to all those young women who got good grades yesterday. And for those who didn’t get the results they wanted, think of Aretha Franklin and get down to the job center. The cost to your health of selling your body is far higher than you’d think.

Title image source: Getty

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