This episode aired over 20 years ago, but I think some of the messages and issues raised in it are still prominent today. For a show fronted by a woman, it seems to do very little to raise women up and to empower them. This particular story is one of Jenny’s makeovers, in which several parents and guardians ask her to “makeover (their) wild teen daughter”. Some of the girls dress in a more punk-style; others are condemned for dressing “too sexy” for their age. Admittedly, a lot of the controversy comes down to the norms of the time and the fears that adults had about youth (i.e. gang culture, punk culture, less modest fashion). We can see that the daughters gain independence much later in life – Danielle (30:05) and Cherelyn (12:11) are 18 and 19 years old respectively, and by rights what they wear should be their choice.
Not much has changed in terms of morning TV. Controversial guests rarely get the opportunity to explain themselves, the host talks over them and rogue audience members shout abuse. Equally, we don’t appear to have progressed regarding the subject matter. Donna (22:03) is picked on for wearing revealing clothes. Nobody condemns the men sexualising her, even the ones in the audience (get a load of the football jocks who keep shouting). She’s 14. I’m not saying what she’s wearing is necessarily appropriate, but it’s interesting that nobody on the show questions why children – particularly little girls – have to cover themselves. If people are looking upon a child and seeing something overtly sexual, then there’s something going wrong there. At what point do we say “nudity is inherently sexual”? At puberty? At adulthood? I’m not saying I feel the need to frolick naked, but I’d like to think that I could wear a pair of shorts in public and not be felt up by a man twice my age.
Anyway, this was an interesting watch. (I am obsessed with Cherelyn’s jacket.)
I should probably also clarify that I don’t condone all the behaviour in this video. Don’t do drugs or pierce your own ear. Stay in school, kids.