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Barbara F. Meltz writes the Globe's Child Caring column. She is author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes, Understanding How Your Children See the World," and a frequent speaker to parent groups. Join her chat on the first and third Monday of the month at noon.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Unhealthy sexualization from an unexpected source


Think your teenage son loves Axe products 'cause it's just another deoderant? Maybe. Maybe not.

The Axe range of male grooming products, made by Unilever, is the newest target of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. So why would a nonprofit devoted to freeing our children from the unhealthy influence of marketing care about a men's deoderant? Click here to get an idea, but beware -- it's x-rated. And if you think your teenage son doesn't know about this or other websites like it, my advice to you is very direct: come out from under your rock.

The point CCFC is making is this: "Unilever's promotes the objectification and sexual humiliation of women."

The irony is that Unilever also makes Dove, which is sponsor of Onslaught, a video which CCFC describes as examining "disturbing images of women" in beauty-industry advertising. The video ends with the message, "Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does."

CCFC goes on to say, "It's an important message, and the [Onslaught] campaign has received many accolades for challenging the standards of the beauty industry. But there's one big problem: Unilever is the beauty industry. When it comes to promoting sexualized stereotypes and marketing an unhealthy body image in order to sell girls on the idea that they need products to improve the way they look, Unilever - the world's second biggest advertiser and manufacturer of diet aids, cosmetics, skin whiteners, and other beauty products - is a major offender."

Click here to join the CCFC campaign to "Ax the Axe" marketing campaign.

Posted by Barbara Meltz at 02:26 PM
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