In the last 10 years alone, we have gained access to the internet at our fingertips: we are now able to stream any video in a matter of milliseconds and we even found a way to connect with friends and family living across the globe. However, with every new innovation there is an impact on society that has its own consequence. Stephanie Hanes saw the impact these innovations were having on our society, particularly in young women, and took action. She wrote a powerful and effective online article on the effect that media and marketing have on young girls in today’s day and age. Hanes overall argument is that media and marketing’s hypersexualization of young girls has become predominantly more effective as it becomes more accessible and in turn leads to negative cognitive, emotional and social impacts. Targeting her argument mostly toward mothers of young girls, Hanes wishes to see many changes in parents involvement with their children in order to diminish and diffuse the effect hypersexualizing has. Her argument is effective by referring to factual evidence written by credible authors and publishers and also emotionally enticing the readers through cause and effect and calling them to action.
Right from the beginning, Hanes gains the reader’s trust and earns credibility for herself as a writer by acknowledging her evidence comes from credible sources. She decides to start off her article this way so that the reader knows the factual evidence she gives is legitimate to entice them to continue reading. For instance, when she introduces Mary Finucane, she makes sure to also mention the fact that she has a background in play therapy and has a successful blog on this issue. She did this to establish credibility for herself through the intelligence of her references on the subject. This shows that Hanes values her blog, and the engaged reading mothers of her blog (which also happens to be the target audience), enough to seek out experts who would have the greatest knowledge on this particular subject at hand.
Now that Hanes gained the readers trust and developed credibility for herself, she then decides to use cold hard facts in order to paint her as an intelligent and credible author that is established and well informed about the subject at hand. She strategically sprinkles these facts throughout her entire article to better prove her arguments. To start-Hanes quotes Mary Finucane. She does this because Finucane did research on how Disney Princesses may be the fundamental cause of hypersexualization in young girls. Finucane found evidence that “Disney Princess empire was the first step down a path to scarier challengers from self-objectification to cyberbullying to unhealthy body images.” which Hanes decides to then pair with more specific statistics on how “one quarter of 14-to-17 year olds send or recieve naked pictures” and “60 percent of children who use the internet regularly come into contact with pornography”. She situated these two facts and compared them side by side to first, introduce the issue of the awful effect hypersexualizing can have on girls at a young age by pointing out that it can lead to bigger issues like self-objectifying, cyberbullying and unhealthy body images. She then takes this general argument and pairs it with factual polls and studies to show that it may start out with Disney Princesses at a young age, but it only escalates from there to bigger issues when they’re older, like the involvement of self-nudity and pornography.
By doing this, she is gaining the reader’s trust in her as a writer, showing them that she has done her own research and is well informed in this issue.
In addition to establishing her credibility, Hanes effectively employs cause and effect scenarios to elicit the audience’s emotions. One example she gives is when she claims “Sexualization, it reported, leads to lower cognitive performance and greater body dissatisfaction”. She does this to answer the ‘so what’ question. ‘So what if media and marketing are hypersexualizing young girls? How does it affect me or my children?’ By answering this question, it gives the reader a reason to continue reading and become actively engaged. Hanes takes it one step further and gives the reader a specific example of a study where they compared the ability of college-aged women to solve math problems. One student wore a sweater and the other wore a swimsuit while solving the problems and the sweater wearers far outperformed the scantily dressed. When mothers to young girls reads this, they can’t help but put their own daughters in these shoes and worry that hypersexualtization will affect thier daughters cognitive performance and body dissatisfaction as well. This cause and effect and vivid example makes the mothers fearful and more willing and open to the idea of making a change.
A bit later in her article, Stephanie Hanes puts in another cause and effect scenario, but this time decided to look at the positive effect of helping young girls stray from media and marketing’s hypersexualization. She tells about how Mary Finucane wanted to test out a study that said “It’s important to not just say girls can do anything, but to give them the actual experience.” Finucane tried this with her own daughter by not only giving her the option to read Cinderella and play with pink frilly dolls, but also exposing her to native American dress-up clothes and a princess Presto outfit. By doing this, Finucan says her daughter isn’t as infatuated and obsessed with disney princesses, but has moved on to enjoy movies like James and the Giant Peach and Wizard of Oz. By doing this, Hanes is giving the readers hope and showing them that a difference can be made in the simplest of actions. By giving them a real life example, it also helps the reader better connect with her writing on an emotional level and more willing to give these methods a try themselves. The timing of this cause and effect is key because Hanes wanted to make sure to scare the readers first from the previous cause and effect scenario; just enough to ensure their full attention and see that they would be more willing to use these methods and take them into serious consideration.
Another strategy Hanes uses to back up her argument is by calling her readers to action. Normally writers would put one single call to action statement to conclude their piece to give the readers something to leave with. However, Hanes brilliantly placed call to action statements throughout her whole article. Beginning with her target audience, mothers of young girls, then expounding it to organizations and schools, then globalizing it in the end and saying how we can better help each other with this hypersexualization problem our society has. Beginning with Mary Finucane, as her primary example for mothers of young girls, Hanes told the story of how Finucane saw her changes in her daughter’s behavior and decided to change it by starting a blog directed at other mothers who are facing the same issue. This call to action was subtle because it didn’t necessarily come out and demand parents to change, but it alludes to the fact that parental involvement is necessary if change was to occur. She does this to make sure her audience of mothers doesn’t feel guilty or feel like they are being blamed. Instead, she simply shows them.
Using Finucane as an example was a strategic segway into her call to action for organizations and schools as well. Hanes first talked about Finucanes blog that she started, which led to her discussing other organizational groups that are available as well. For instance, she introduces the APA which is a group of educators, parents, institutions and young girls that are pushing back against growth of marketing pressures. Hanes then goes on to discuss more specifics on what they’re about and how they help make change. Including parents and young girls in the list of involved personnel was crucial; it’s calling them to action to join organizational groups like these.
Not only does Hanes choose to discuss separate organizations, but she talks about clubs and organizations that are in schools as well. Through phrases like “Schools can also share the burden”, it helps take a load off the parents and shows the readers that she understands it’s not all up to the parents to make this big change. However, it still is calling the parents to action by having them enroll their children in such programs through her wording, such as, “…students who participate in these sorts of programs show more empathy, self confidence and more academic success.”
The last call to action Hanes insinuates is the action of everyone as a society and the effect we can have on each other. Although the other call to actions may have been a bit subtle and discreet, she chose to make this call to action more demanding and bold. She outright blames society for hypersexualization of young girls by saying “Many girls post or send provocative images because they’re growing up in a culture that places a lot of value in their sexualtiy.” This shows that we need to change as a society as a whole and calls us to action on a more global perspective. While the target audience may be mothers of young girls, this last call to action makes this issue relatable to each and every person who decides to read this article.
After reading this article for the first time-I was moved. I wasn’t sure how and I wasn’t even sure why, considering the fact that I have no children of my own, but I left knowing that I wanted to do something to make a difference. This just goes to show that Stephanie Hanes is effective in convincing her audience that marketing and media’s hypersexualization of young girls is not going to get better unless we actively do something to stop it. Through the use of credible sources, logical facts, cause and effect scenarios and calling us to action, she changes our way of thinking and tugs at our heartstrings to a point where we can’t stop reading.