Beyonce’s Deréon Divas: Pop-Tarts & Sesame Streetwalkers

dereon21.jpgJust as I was thinking I wouldn’t have time to post today because of Shaping Youth’s film screening fund-raiser of Two Angry Moms a chime came into my e-mail from Dr. Robyn Silverman with full coverage of the House of Dereon collection of vamped up tots created by the ‘PopTart Princess’ herself, Beyoncé.

Ah, there IS a fairy godmother…As Dr. Robyn waves her magic wand of logic, research and reasoning to rescue me from overload and sheer lack of a clone to be ‘everywhere at once.’

I’d mentioned the Beyoncé debacle a tad in my diversity/fairytale post featuring Deesha Philyaw’s great deconstruction of ‘the princess problem’ but frankly, I hadn’t the time (nor the stomach) to tackle the foolishness of this fashionista absurdity that’s trashing childhood with vapid values of pop culture drek today. (gee, tell us how you REALLY feel, Amy, eh?–sorry, but I revile profiteering off of preschoolers, having ‘acid thrown on their innocence’ as Sen. Harkin says)

Anyway, rather than trot out my infamous ‘sexualized ad slop’ objectification diatribe that media seems to trumpet as a catch-phrase for ‘over-reaction,’ I’ll segue to Shaping Youth body image expert Dr. Robyn Silverman to explain the harm matter-of-factly as she details how this type of marketing is landing on kids…

drrobyn_profile3.jpgBeyonce’s Blunder: Dereon’s Ads Featuring Tarted-Up Tots Taking Heat

by Shaping Youth Correspondent and body image expert, Dr. Robyn Silverman

Welcome to “Girls Gone Wild,” Little Tykes Addition.

These ads featuring Deréon Girls clothes might provide a momentary laugh if they came out of an old “dress-up box” or if the girls were doing a mock “Pussy Cat Dolls presents Girlicious” audition. But the idea that they’re aimed for public view is alarming.

dereon.jpgStill raw from the Miley Cyrus Mess, people are weighing in and they’re not happy with what they’re seeing.

According to New York Post’s Michelle Malkin,

If you thought the soft-porn image of Disney teen queen Miley Cyrus – wearing nothing but ruby-stained lips and a bedsheet – in Vanity Fair magazine was disturbing, you ain’t seen nothing yet. [The young models] are seductively posed and tarted up, JonBenet Ramsey-style, with lipstick, blush and face powder…The creepiness factor is heightened by the fact that women were responsible for marketing this child exploitation. So, what’s next? Nine-year-olds performing stripper routines?

So why are these sexualized images such a problem?

Media, such as magazine ads, TV, video games, and music videos can have a detrimental effect on children.

Not only has the sexualization of girls and women in the media lead to mounting public concern, researchers continue to find that the images can have a profound affect on the confidence, body image, dieting behaviors and sexual development of girls. Dr Eileen Zurbriggen, associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the chair of the APA task force on the sexualization of girls is scrutinizing these issues;

“The consequences of the sexualisation of girls in media today are very real,” said “We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualisation has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development.”

What do they mean by sexualization?

When researchers speak of sexualization, they’re referring to when a person’s value come from their sexual appeal (looks) or their sexual behavior and when the person is looked upon as a sexual object, to the exclusion of other characteristics such as character, intelligence, and ability.


  • Dolls with pouty lips, mini-skirts, and fish-net stockings aimed at the 4-8 year old market place
  • Thongs marked for young girls ages 7 to 10 years old (some printed with slogans like “eye candy” and “wink wink” on them).
  • Young pop-stars and celebrities dressed provocatively or inappropriately
  • Video games with sexualized images
  • Cartoon-clad thongs for teens

But are children and teens really that impressionable?

While there hasn’t been a body of work that directly links sexualized images in ads and electronic media to problems in girls, individual studies strongly suggest that a link may be evident when it comes to media and eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression in girls. For example;

  • Adolescent girls who frequently read magazine articles that featured articles about dieting were more likely five years later to engage in extreme weight-loss practices such as vomiting than girls who never read such articles.
  • Middle school girls who read articles about dieting (compared to those who did not read such articles) were twice as likely to try to lose weight 5 years later by fasting or smoking cigarettes. These girls were also three times more likely to use extreme weight loss practices such as taking laxatives or vomiting to lose weight.
  • The average person sees between 400-600 ads per day
  • About 7 of 10 girls say that they want to look like a character on TV
  • After just 10 minutes of exposure, the researchers found that the groups that had watched the music videos with the thin, attractive stars, exhibited the largest increase in body dissatisfaction in comparison to those who simply listed to the songs of completed the memory task with the neutral words. In addition, and perhaps the most troubling, it did not matter whether the girls had high or low self esteem to begin with–they were all equally affected.
  • About 41% of teen girls report that magazines are their most important source of information with regard to dieting and health and 61% of teen girls read at least one fashion magazine often.

But here’s the real deal:

Be vigilant about the media that’s delivered through your mail slot. Be conscious about the messages that are conveyed in your living room. If you don’t like what you see:

(1) Don’t buy it: Beyonce may make the clothes but you make the decisions. Only you can determine what comes through your doors from the mall and what goes out your door to school.

(2) Shut it off: No; you can’t be with your child at all times but it’s important to supervise the media flow into your household. There are plenty of parental locks and internet blocks that can put your in control.

(3) Talk about it: Let your child know your values and why you don’t think what the ads are portraying is a smart choice for her or your family.

(4) Ask questions: You may be surprised by your child’s view of the media. They may be more savvy than you think. Ask what she thinks about what she’s seeing–be present–and listen.

(5) Expose her to positive images: There are several positive role models in the media. However, don’t put all your eggs in one basket (we saw what happened with Miley and Jamie Lynn Spears). Open up your children’s world to actual living, breathing, 3-Dimensional role models in your community so that they can be inspired by something well beyond what they see on TV or in clothing ads.

Some decision-makers might be making fools of themselves by “pimping out” little girls in ads or draping a 15 year old tween queen in a sheet and sending it out to print, but you’re still the parent.

Continue to instill values in your young children and they’ll be more likely to focus their attention away from these tween tarts and dolls gone wild and towards more appropriate activities; like playing dress up and watching Sesame Street.

Dr. Robyn Silverman (full bio here) is an ongoing Shaping Youth contributor and leading Child and Adolescent Development Specialist with a focus on character education and body/self esteem development during childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

casefor.jpgI’ll add to Dr. Robyn’s list of appropriate activities a vote for the outdoor play, with “balls as well as dolls” and completely reinforce the importance of pretend play, as Susan Linn’s new book will no doubt reveal at length in her research, “The Case for Make Believe” which you can check out via CCFC here.

I’ll be posting more about that more tomorrow, as we’re fortunate to have Susan come to the Bay Area on her book tour, hosted by none other than Michele Simon who will be on the panel with me tonight for the Shaping Youth film screening!

Here are a few more book tour stops on Susan Linn’s Bay Area sojourn…

Also…don’t miss her on Shaping Youth advisory board member Rona Renner’s radio show, Childhood Matters Sunday, June 1st (archived via podcast for ALL to enjoy!)

Thursday, May 29, 7pm – 9pm
First Congregational Church, Social Hall
1985 Louis Rd, Palo Alto

Monday, June 2, 7pm – 9pm
Parents’ Place
2001 Winward Way, San Mateo

Tuesday, June 3, 9:15am – 10:30am
Peninsula School
920 Peninsula Way, Menlo Park

Tuesday, June 3, 4pm – 6pm
GeoKids, US Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Rd, Menlo Park

Wednesday, June 4, 1pm
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera

Thursday, June 5, 7pm
Cody’s Books
2201 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley



  1. Excellent post!

    I can’t tell you how many people I’ve encountered who simply shrug off the tarted-up clothing and vampy dolls as “just cute kids stuff” without realizing the long term effects these items have on our girls. The fact that this type of product(along with a lot of today’s popular music)is training our girls to be objects seems so obvious to me, but it really is something that many people generally do not recognize.

    Thanks for putting it in such plain language(supported by rock-solid research)that everyone can understand. I’ll definitely be linking the post on Reign to keep the message going. The more we share the better.

  2. The “PARENT FACTOR” is huge…While working on “Body Blitz: Media, Shaping Youth” (K-5 playground documentary/film research) I’d notice that when kids dressed in ‘aspirational’ attire of a very trendy sort (including those 5th grade “Juicy Couture” sweats with ‘juicy’ plastered on kids’ backsides) there was a parental dynamic also in play…

    I started taking anecdotal notes at some of the affluent schools on what became a bit of a pattern…namely, “mini-mes’ and ‘wannabes’—

    Parents of these kids usually divided into sort of a ‘clone creation’ (mirroring effect) or conversely, would dress their child ‘to the nines’ while they represented the antithesis of same…(the ‘living doll’ syndrome, projecting the finery and flair that they may never have had)

    Socioeconomic factors enter into this as well, for at the poorer schools, ironically, ‘brands’ and ‘stuff’ were not only coveted signs of ‘cool’ but became a hierarchial status in terms of jockeying for social position…ugh. NOT the kind of signs we want to be sending out there…

    How do YOU think we can best ‘reveal the problem’ to parents that don’t even see it as one?

    Our Body Blitz film (yep, using media!) is my hope for same, because capturing some of this visually, along w/the behavioral evidence and harm of same can be an eye-opening experience for ALL…

    sigh…just gotta get it properly FUNDED so it’s accessible to all via the internet…even in clips.

    Interns? High school media gurus? We’d love to get you involved in the UGC side of this, tracking what’s happening on your campuses and in your worlds too…We’d ultimately like to do a ‘flip and blip’ student channel…(recording via simple ‘flip’ style video, then post it on for all to see) but need to train all re: media literacy/film releases and such in our crew…so ping me if you know of tweens, teens, collegiates that would like to lend a hand and capture some of this impact in various regions around the world?

  3. Wanted to add ‘part of the problem’ again here in this poll…

    Check this out:

    Out of 1300+ people responding, 62% felt these ads over-sexualized girls, 29% said ‘no, they are tacky but not over the line.’ and 8% said, “what’s the problem, they’re just playing dress up.”

    Stay tuned for more on that link, to see if they have more entries…I suppose I should be happy that the numbers aren’t reversed, eh? sigh…Just so dang obvious to me…it really shows how numb and desensitized we’ve become as a culture of anything goes…

    bleh. icky.

  4. Great comment here:

    “Asks (NSFW) blog “What is the next ad going to look like? Babies wearing gold metallic bikinis while five-year old boys throw Monopoly money on them.”

  5. kennasmom says

    You’re never going to run out of blog fodder – ran across this on Salon this evening:


    Also on Salon/related features re: The Lolita Effect:

    Related Stories

    What teen girls are made of
    In their own dark and funny words, four teenage girls tell us everything we need to know about sex, parents and gym class.
    By Carey Dunne, Eliza Appleton, Emma Considine, Deborah Kim

    Candy from strangers
    Teen girls flash some skin on their “cam sites,” and fans shower them with gifts. Who’s exploiting whom?
    By Katharine Mieszkowski

    Teen girls not in a rush
    Four random but not randy “tween” girls talk about boobs, boys and sex — and why they’re not in a hurry to have any of it.
    By Karen Houppert

    Special thanks to Kristine Cornwall for forwarding!!! Can’t figure out why your comments are ending up in the filter, drat it!

  7. Apparently daddy Knowles (as in Beyonce) has decided that since she has married a pimp then he probably won’t have a much control over her anymore, so the next best thing is to turn out all little girls so that they want to look like daddies first prostitute.

    Beyonce just got married to a pimp and I’m more than sure, that in a very short time she will be too emotionally screwed up to think of ways to make babies look like whores.

    Basically she was and is pimped out by her parents and she clearly doesn’t know any better — because this has been her way of life – all of her life. But she will soon learn.

    And mommy is so caught up in competing with her daughter, by trying to look 24 herself that she clearly is irrational. I would imagine that the guilt of prostituting her daughter messes with her psyche. So in a sick convoluted way if she gets other “innocents” into the look of whoredom then it would somehow mean, that what she has done to her own child is normal.

    You know the concept; an addict wants to turn you into an addict, a drunk wants you to be drunk too — otherwise when they look at you, you remind them of what they are doing to themselves.

    Besides, Beyonce may have a big ass, but she is not the sharpest tool in the toolbox, and neither is mommy. Basically they have both been pimped out by daddy — of which no one sees very often, I’m sure it’s because he doesn’t want it to look like he’s the family pimp.

    And when Beyonce’s big ass drops she too will be trapped in a holding pattern and spend the rest of her life trying to look 24 years old just like mommy. Unfortunately, in the mean time they will continue to pimp the babies — to ensure that their dynasty continues — just like the cigarette cartel, the drug cartel, the prostitution rings and so forth and so on . . . .

    But in all fairness to the Knowles family, it would stand to reason that if before the launching of the “Bootylicious Kids” campaign if one did not have a problem with very way Beyonce carries herself on stage, and has allowed their own precious little girl to watch her shake her naked rump, then why would one have a problem with it now? Because you would have to know, that your precious one is going to want to look and act like Beyonce and all the other women that have chosen to prostitute themselves to the industry.

    Were you telling your daughter that the way Beyonce acts is not acceptable . . . or were you shaking and grinding right along with her?

    And as we can see from the above ads, the Knowles family is not prejudiced — it’s all about the equal opportunity to turn everybody’s daughter out. From the Americas to Japan!

    Not to mention the fact that, the “House of Dereon” sounds like the name of a “whore house”.

  8. Yowza. Tell us how you REALLY feel. 😉

    Your passionista, raw truths and and existential approach to life echo our own mantra at Shaping Youth…facing down the power-whiners and naysayers who shrug and feel “it’s all too much.” (Whatever the ‘it’ might be: racism, sexism, injustice, media messaging…)

    We like to “show & tell” to those that say we’re ‘fencing windmills’ in tackling toxic media messages via solutions-based thinking, especially in our outcomes and measures in counter-marketing.

    It’s like throwing down the gauntlet when folks say ‘you can’t’…defiance kicks in to take action with personal responsibility in ‘really? just watch us now’ conviction.

    I loved your ‘where do you stand’ soliloquy which is worthy of an inspiring post in itself, to get out of lipservice mode & become a proactive agent of change on your blog, here:

    Where do I stand? Right beside you. Rock on. (folks, visit her link above, awesome blog!)

    p.s. You’ll love Britt’s post on ‘changebloggers’ here, too:

  9. If Americans would unite against all this.. our country would be much better!

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