‘Toddlers & Tiaras’ Mother Suing Media Outlets For Sexualizing Daughter
The sexualization of girls is rightly on the minds of many these days as we are consistently confronted with sexy modeling shoots for young and younger girls and products like lingerie being marketed to toddlers. And although no parent would likely come running to the defense of all the rampant sexualizing that happens on Toddlers & Tiaras, one mother of a contestant is pointing the finger elsewhere: specifically The Huffington Post, TMZ.com, and The Daily Mail for sexualizing her daughter during their reporting.
Susanna Barrett, mother to Isabella Barrett, filed a $30 million lawsuit against the trio of media outlets attesting that in their coverage, these writers attributed a sexiness to the child that was not actually exhibited. NY Daily News reports:
Online articles published by the three outlets â€œbrazenly attempt to sexualizeâ€ the girl by â€œclaiming she was gyrating in a nightclub and singing about her sex appealâ€ the suit charges, when she was actually sitting down during the Jan. 9 taping at a Manhattan restaurant.
â€œOn the contrary, it is the defendants who, through their articles, have thrust these false and vulgar characteristics on to Isabella.â€
â€œAs a result, Isabella is now perceived sexually, erotically and pornographically,â€ and the articles â€œhave placed Isabella in serious physical danger, attracting the attention of others who would seek to sexualize a child.â€
Little five-year-old Isabella was filmed “bouncing” about in a DJ booth before an eager crowd, singing along to the song “Iâ€™m Sexy and I Know It.â€ Having seen the video myself, the little girl clad in pink pageant attire is hardly “gyrating” but is completely seated during her meek sing a long. While it’s still a valid parenting question to ask why a young girl is being egged on by grownups to sing about sex appeal, TMZ appears to have gotten carried away in their summary. [tagbox tag=”Toddlers and Tiaras”]
Nevertheless, if you’re reporting on something as nebulous as the sexualization of children as I often do, there are always those on the other side of fence who will earnestly attest that there is nothing wrong with a 10-year-old being photographed from the ground up in a pose normally reserved for adult models. But if parents fail to recognize the subtle cultural attempts to sexualize our girls through crotchless thongs, Lolita ads, and even bikini waxes,Â I don’t think media outlets should be penalized for illuminating these trends to the public.
But given TMZ’s description of young Isabella, the question of who exactly is sexualizing whom clearly needs to be revisited.