Thursday, July 10, 2008

M. Gigi Durham

Meenakshi Gigi Durham is an associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa. For more than a decade, she has been conducting research on adolescent girls and the media.

Katharine Mieszkowski of interviewed Durham about her new book, The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What You Can Do About It.

The first exchange from the Q & A:

Why is grown-up sexuality being marketed to younger and younger girls?

I don't think that anybody can pinpoint the single reason, but I think there are a number of trends that can give us some clues about it. The '90s were prosperous. In the mid-'90s there was a lot of disposable income floating around and tweens became a very important niche market for a number of industries. One research firm Euromonitor posits tweens spending $170 billion in 2006. So, this is a wealthy little group of people.

Marketers realized they could create cradle-to-grave consumers by marketing products to kids very early. Then, they would develop brand loyalties, and consumer practices that they would sustain throughout their lifetimes. It was very profitable to start marketing these products to very young kids.

Also, as women have made tremendous gains politically and in the workforce, grown women are moving away from this traditional model of femininity where women are supposed to be docile and passive. And little girls still conform to that very traditional ideal of femininity. So I think that increasing attention is being focused on little girls as embodying ideal femininity.
Read the entire interview.

The Page 99 Test: The Lolita Effect.

--Marshal Zeringue