That's where we began Day 3, our final sessions.
Onslaught is the title of a one minute film clip, here, of Dove's "self-Esteem Fund". You may know it - the image of an innocent, befreckled redhead girl staring into the camera, while a flurry of beauty product advertisements stream by.
"Talk to your daughter, before the beauty industry does," reads the message flashed across the screen at the end, as the girl crosses a street with a backpack over her shoulder, staring into the camera.
Here, we learn a bit more about our moderators. Kate discusses how she had worked for half a dozen years in the advertising industry. She described how her teams of marketeers and advertisers focussed on a common critical ingredient to sell products, whether it be washing machines, bubble gum or cigarettes:
"Every single campaign had some element of sex in it," she acknowledged.
The Dove campaign, she added, was what she considered "among the most provocative and brilliant" of a very small number of advertising campaigns conveying the message that it's fine to be who you are.
Unfortunately, it is largely drowned out by advertising telling girls - and increasingly boys - they should have a certain figure, and largely ones that have little to no body fat, encouraging illnesses of anorexia [and, for guys, "manorexia"] which can be fatal. One in for young girls have an eating disorder in the united states, Ms. Roberts told us, or roughly the equivalent ration to those who have HIV/AIDS in Africa.
We examine a series of staged advertising photographs appearing in popular American magazines, many of which were judged to be offensive, ranging from Tom Ford advertisements [you may Google for yourself] lodging beauty products in the intimate areas of naked fashion models.
We discuss a Dolce & Gabbana advertising campaign that appears to show a half naked man pinning down a woman surrounded by images of scantily clad men, implying gang violence towards women. This was pulled in Spain, though not especially graciously.
Our readings include descriptions of a billboard of a woman stretched out in suggestive undergarments, on which graffiti had been inscribed, "No wonder young women are raped." User-submitted, explicit photos are published on the website of the multibillion dollar fashion clothing company American Apparel, which allows viewers to click on the pictures to see more about the products and the models. One such model turned out to be a porn star. Is this suitable for teens - or for that matter for marketing to the general public?
As I noted, earlier, we had tremendous contributions from all on this last day, especially the moderators. As we discuss this, Amita notes that even though she's been an expert in the field of adolescent health and has three children, she had never really been exposed to these most overt images.
We discuss how important discussions are within families, in the context of these images, and the sort of behaviors they imply. "Children will listen to you whether you're cool, or not," said one parent, knowingly.
Our Inner Compass
One of our more silent participants speaks up towards the very end with perhaps the most eloquent remarks of the three days. He outlines how he, at a very young age, learned about sexuality and learned at a similar time about the importance of having, building, respecting and utilizing a strong "inner compass" to guide oneself in life - and how this inveriably must occur begin in the family and in the home.
At the end of the final session, we went round the room one more time, describing our take-aways, and were united in identifying complementary "calls to arms" that will lead to action following the seminar - and we agree to keep in touch on ways we may help as individuals, and collaboratively.