Since 2005 there has been a bus doing the rounds in Oakleigh displaying a near naked reclining woman in high heels, her legs stretch almost the full length of the side of the bus. This is the long running advertisement for the Kittens School of Striptease.
In 2005 the advertising regulator didn’t even bat an eye lid over this ad. Luckily things have changed and experts, educators and parents alike are more aware of the harmful effects images like this can have on young people.
Back then the ASB said the images were not “overly graphic” and did not expose the breast “in any way”.
According to the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB) chief executive Fiona Jolly the bureau was different 5 years ago “Issues such as the sexualisation of children are an issue now, but they weren’t an issue in the mainstream media five years ago,” she said.
Maggie Hamilton author of “What’s Happening to Our Girls?” and Generation Next speaker said “If sexy’s where it’s at, then that’s what some girls will aim for. Knowing this, advertisers push the importance of girls being sexy.”
She added “The interest in being sexy may seem harmless enough, were it not for the fact that the sexualisation of girls is taking its toll. ‘What troubles me is that it’s like girls don’t feel they have any rights’ one young teacher confessed. ‘It’s like they want to be objects to be desired.’ This in your face sexuality is present in almost every form of media”.
5 years on and the ABS has finally reviewed the advertisement and with the pressure of changing community attitudes, led by campaigners like Kids Free 2B Kids, it has decided that the ad is indeed sexually suggestive and could expose children to sexual themes.
Kids Free 2B Kids Director and Generation Next speaker, Julie Gale, was delighted with the turn around by the ASB. “It is a good thing that the ASB are getting up to speed with how children are being impacted by adult sexualised imagery,” she said.
The Kids Free 2B Kids website has a dedicated page Who Controls Ads to help people wishing to complain to the ASB should they feel an advertisement (print or TV) is overtly sexual or depicts sexual exploitation.