TEEN VOGUE IS OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY AND ITS YOUNG AUDIENCE - ARE YOU, TOO??
Nancy Kislin, LCSW & MFT
Teen Vogue's July 7, 2017 issue featured an article called “Anal Sex - What You Need to Know, How To Do It The Right Way.”
I wish I was kidding.
Teen Vogue is a magazine that targets girls age 11 to age 17. After I heard about this article, I did what any other psychotherapist who specializes in working with adolescents would do – I googled "Teen Vogue - anal sex."
Two side-by-side pictures of a female and male pelvic area in bright pink colors popped up on my screen. It was noticeable that the female picture was missing the parts of the anatomy that bring pleasure to a woman.
The article in itself is a guide to why you may want to engage in Anal sex. Okay… I kept reading. I tried to stay open minded. It did throw in a line that “enthusiastic consent” is necessary between partners before one engages in this behavior. It continues to read like an article in a sex book or Cosmo magazine. Did they forget who their audience is?
I almost fell off my desk chair when I read, “...When you do have anal sex, go slowly. Regular communication with your partner will keep things level.” What does that mean?? Does the author hang out with any tweens and teens these days?
Communicate? Most teens don’t know how to talk to each other except through texting, but you think they are mature enough to tell someone it hurts when they are face down with something in their “.
Seriously. The teens I know tell me about hook up parties where the guy will text you – and then you go sit next to him on the couch and fool around. It's up to you how far you will go. The girls and guys tell me that they often don’t know the person and never said a word to them.
The article continues with an entire paragraph dedicated to the "Need for Lube,” followed by a discussion about “Poop.” I keep praying that this is where the author will talk about the many health risks that can occur when one engages in anal sex. But NO – She literally says “it’s no big deal if you touch poop.”
Actually, it is a really big deal if poop comes into contact with your mouth or female private parts. It is extremely dangerous if the partner proceeds from anal to vaginal intercourse.
I have worked with clients who ended up in the hospital because of infections that resulted from anal sex going bad.
The article completely missed discussing health risks and emotional risks, but did end with a high five that included “...Anal sex and anal stimulation can be awesome, and if you want to give it a go, you do that. More power to you.”
Also omitted was the suggestion to go seek out additional information from one’s doctor or trusted adult, ie. parents.
If a teen is too uncomfortable to talk to an adult, there's good chance they are not ready to engage in an emotionally vulnerable behavior .
Let me be clear, I am not living in the dark ages. I know far too well from the teens and 20 somethings I work with, that our children are being over sexualized at too early of an age. It is imperative that parents and educators talk to children about their bodies, their choices and the emotional and physical health risks involved in having sexual relations especially including Anal Sex.
My feeling is that parents absolutely have to talk to their kids about sex, drugs and all kinds of topics at earlier and earlier ages. You don’t need to give them too much information at once – Test the waters and see what they know and still need to know.
But teach them to respect their bodies now. Empower them to say "no" if something makes them uncomfortable. Even if they see it on the internet or hear people talk about it doesn't mean it it right for them. They always have the right to say “NO.” Make sure they know that.
And lastly, just because a publication is labeled "teen" clearly doesn't mean it's appropriate or kid friendly anymore. Monitor what your children are reading online and getting in the mail.
Binge watching just got riskier!
by Nancy Kislin, LCSW, MFT, Parent Educator
All these years later – just listening to the sound of the actress' voice as she states that she can’t eat – it hit a nerve in me that I thought had died years ago.
I just finished watching the trailer for “To the Bone,” Netflix's new movie that premieres July 14 and portrays a teenage girl's battle with anorexia. I shed tears - old tears mixed with tears for the young women I currently help through this journey of hell called an eating disorder...
I survived that journey – Most of it alone except for an amazing therapist. But it was the darkest period of my life, the part I kept securely hidden from family and friends.
I struggled alone, searching to find control in a world that my young mind didn’t know couldn’t be controlled. Disorders like this take hold of you, and it's nearly impossible to separate yourself from it. I was one of the lucky ones. I survived and went on to have a healthy and productive life.
The scars, they are there. They never fully go away. They keep me hyper-alert for signs of eating disorders or other self-harming behavior when I am working with children and teens. I see and hear the undercurrent of anxiety that feeds the fierce desperation to find a way to have control in their lives. It is through my lens as a survivor and a veteran therapist that I ask,
“Why, Netflix, do you feel it's significant to release 'To the Bone'?”
I am sure many will be disturbed by the series. Let's be honest, eating disorders are upsetting, disturbing and more people die from it then any other mental illness.
An eating disorder series released right in the middle of bikini season...
After the last disastrous release of "13 Reasons Why," – Just yesterday, I got a new client who was triggered to almost commit suicide from this show - Really! -- I thought I better check out "To The Bone."
Can you hear my screams of "NOOOOOO!" followed by "Why?!"? Why is this series necessary??
Like "13 Reasons Why," is just another gateway to harmful behavior?
PARENTS: PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOUR CHILDREN ARE WATCHING.
If your kids want to watch this series, answer the following questions:
- Does your child have a history of depression, anxiety, addictive behaviors, eating disorder, suicide etc.?
- Are they over the age of 16 (and that age is me being generous)?
- Why does your child want to watch it in the first place?
- We don't need to see this series, we already know what the story is going to reveal.
Regardless of their answers, do not let them watch it alone. Watch the trailer together, and let that start a conversation about eating disorders, what they know about them and if they know anyone who struggles like the main character.
When the show does premiere on the July 14, watch an episode with them. Then decide - as the parent - if it's appropriate for your child to see.
Netflix please STOP glamorizing self harming behavior. There is nothing sexy about starving yourself to death.
Nancy Kislin, LCSW, MFT, Parenting Educator
by Nancy Kislin, LCSW, MFT and Parent Educator
Every day - yes, everyday - at least one parent shares yet another story with me of how a middle school student took a nude picture of themselves and shared it with a few of their “closest” friends.
Recently, after a program that I participated in about teens' addiction to technology, a principal attending the event from another school district commented that she was so tired of looking at pictures of boys' penises and girls' private parts. She urged me to keep instructing the parents to tell their kids to STOP taking nude pictures.
Ten years ago, no one could have imagined a world where educators would have to spend their time scrolling through students’ photos on their phones, looking for pictures of nude friends. And in case you don’t know this, it is illegal for a child/teen to send a nude photo - even if it is of themselves and especially when sent to another person. This is called distribution of child pornography. Depending on where you live and what you did, it can leave the distributor with an arrest and a record as a Sex Offender.
All this overexposure is causing tremendous damage to the child’s developing identity and sense of self, not to mention their sexuality. The kids may act like they don’t care, it’s no big deal, everyone is doing it, but don’t let them fool you. I see the girls after their boobies have been seen by most of the 8th grade class in their middle school. I listen to their fears as they fight to hold back their tears. I hear the girls awkwardly state that they received pictures of 13 year boys olds penises. Not to be rude, but what 13 year old girl wants to see this part of a boy’s body.
Girls and boys are dealing with feeling enormous amounts of humiliation and confusion with all these pictures and sex talk. There is an epidemic of shame that is being hidden by things like addictions to nicotine, weed, alcohol, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and/or apathy.
We don’t know the long term ramifications of this behavior but from where I sit everyday, it doesn’t look so promising for our kids to have normal, productive sexual lives. Not to mention the spread of STDs, AIDS, and teen pregnancy, which are all still taboo to talk about – yet nude pictures are collected by middle school and high school kids the way we used to collect baseball cards and Pokeman cards.
Parents, you need to set limits, monitor and talk to your kids about this oh-so-common phenomenon. Technology has changed the world your kid is growing up in. One of the biggest changes is how much they are learning, seeing and doing in the sexual arena. You can't protect them from everything, but you need to start doing your part.