Have you ever stopped to think about how many ads use sex to sell a product? So many do that we can become numb to them. But if you stop to notice, you’ll see attractive people, mostly women, in advertising for every imaginable product. Many of these women are wearing tight, skimpy clothes and often a come-hither expression. What does that have to do with shaving cream? cars? plumbing supplies?
This is a great opening for a conversation with your kids. What do they think about ads that use sex to sell? Does the model in the bikini have anything to do with the product? Why does the advertiser put her in the ad? What is the advertiser trying to get you to think?
Are men in ads as likely as women to be wearing revealing clothes? How come the sexy models are mostly women? What does your kid think about that?
How do ads and images on TV compare with what they see on YouTube or elsewhere on the internet? Is sexiness used there more or less often? Are there images that counteract the stereotypes?
Now, I have to admit that my kids didn’t like it when I called their attention to these kinds of things. In fact, they’d howl. “Mom! I am trying to watch this show! Can you please stop pestering me about the ads?!” So maybe I got a little carried away with it….
Even so, I think this is a topic every family should talk about sometimes. Media in various forms consumes a huge amount of our time—and most of it is produced by people who want to sell us something. The more we can teach our kids to pay attention to subtle media messages and think critically about them, the less they’ll get sucked into someone’s sales pitch.