As you have probably already noticed, everything from classic movies, songs, sayings, and games are being put under scrutiny as today's day and age attempt to advance into a more accepting and positive society. Whether all of these harsh reviews are warranted is debatable, but there is one that we have all seen that, although seemingly harmless, could actually be doing some damage. Yes, we know that kids need to be kids and have a 'childhood', which is an image routed from our own upbringings, but with obesity on the rise, researchers are beginning to question whether actions such as advertising junk food on kids' clothing are really such great ideas anymore.
CafeMom reports that researchers from the University of Michigan set out to determine if "clothing retailers who put images of junk food on kids' graphic tees (such as pizza, ice cream, and doughnuts) could be doing more harm than good." Although many may not see what the big deal is about a little cartoon on a shirt, Dr. Megan Pesch puts it into perspective when she explains that we are basically "turning our kids into walking billboards [for] junk food". Is that a little over the top to think that? The study's findings showed it indeed is not.
The study itself took over a month to complete while researchers examined 3,870 articles of clothing from four of the top children's clothing stores. CafeMom reports that "one out of every 11 apparel items included a food graphic of some kind, and two-thirds of those foods were unhealthy." That in itself probably isn't a good thing, but researchers actually found something else that was interesting: gender differences shown through junk food!
Most of us could agree, although we probably haven't all taken the time to think much of it, when you think of a shirt with ice cream, cupcakes with sprinkles, or doughnuts, does your mind jump towards 'oh, that's definitely a girl's shirt'? Also, when you think of a shirt that has a burger, fries, or pizza, doesn't your mind tend to jump towards clothing designed for boys? Those shirts 'designed for girls' are more likely to have messages that accompany them about being sweet. Shirts that are designed for boys are more likely to have messages about relaxing and being cool. Do you see the issue?
Speaking on the topic of gender differences reinforced in children's clothing, Dr. Pesch says that "[The images] may underlie some of these cultural expectations of girls' characteristics versus boys' behavior, specifically that girls are expected to be 'sweet'." Now, maybe all of this research is just overthinking, but perhaps if we change the way junk food is viewed early on in childhood, our kids will grow up with less of a desire for it, in turn lowering obesity rates as well as other related diseases. If anything, steering clear of 'junk food clothing' won't exactly do any harm either so it may be worth a shot.