New trends for girls as young as seven to make themselves fashionable and attract the attention of young boys is causing an unprecedented rise in childhood depression and anxiety levels, psychologists have warned.

Dr Joe Tucci of the Australian Childhood Foundation says the exposure of children to adult concepts is damaging the children. “Kids as young as seven are worried about the way they look, whether they’re attractive to young boys. They lack self-esteem and confidence,” he said. “If they don’t feel like they fit into those messages, they feel like they are not as good as other kids. An impact is depression and anxiety, which we are seeing an increase of in unprecedented levels.”

Professor Louise Newman of Monash University believes concerns about appearance are seriously damaging young children. “I’ve seen children suffering from clinical depression in primary school because they don’t feel they are pretty enough or thin enough or able to be popular,” she said. “The girls are worried they won’t get boyfriends, girls have started defining their self-worth in terms of themselves as a sex object.”

The concerns were raised after the department store Target released a range of bras aimed at toddlers. Kids Free 2B Kids founder and Generation Next speaker Julie Gail added her outrage at the bras. “It is totally unnecessary. A two-year-old doesn’t need that,” She said. “They are tactically marketing eye shadows, makeup, nail polish and little bras.”

From the Herald Sun.

Writer Tristan Boyd, Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.