I present to you the most visited newspaper website in the world, The Mail Online. With more than one hundred million unique users per month the website is bigger than all competition including the New York Times, and it is still growing.
Yet, everyday they present us with pictures of young teenagers in their bikinis for millions to see.
The Mail keeps posting ‘news’ about these teenagers most are part of successful celebrity families. If the pictures aren’t bad enough the language they use is purposefully used in a way to make it sound like it is acceptable for people to be looking at these pictures. It is obviously not.
In under 10 minutes I found the following articles on their site (none are linked to as I don’t want to provide any more traffic to them and any images have been blurred as I don’t agree with the way they are sexualising these young women).
To start with we have a story with pictures of a 12-year old.
The article is about a Courtney Stodden, who is now 17, and an American model, actress, singer and reality television personality.
In one article the Mail has decided to publish 21 pictures of the young lady, from her in a bikini to a video of her in a beauty contest.
They also see no problem with sexualising her with the language used.
As if the pictures aren’t enough we’re also given a description of them: “Dressed in simple triangle bikini with her long hair covering her chest, the aspiring model looks far younger than her made-up look these days”.
She’s described as “fresh faced,” and as being dressed in a “revealing pink mini dress,” being “Not so sweet and innocent,” “beyond her years,” and a “young exhibitionist.” For goodness sake, she is 17-years-old and often these descriptions are of photos from when she is younger. Everything here implies sexuality and that she is a sexual object when in fact she was very young when the pictures were taken.
But one of the worst things about this article, which is one of many in the same vain, is the picture caption on one of the pictures. The phrase “Naughty school girl.”
The Mail is also beacon of all hypocrisy – casting hypocrisy across the land it travels.
Here we have a story published by them with parents complaining about an advert that ‘sexualises children’. The advert shows a teenager posing provocatively in a ‘skimpy school uniform’.
I’m sorry Daily Mail but you will publish pictures of young teenagers in their bikinis, describe them as a ‘naughty school’ and an ‘exhibitionist’ and yet have the gall to publish a story, which criticises someone else for doing exactly the same. Where is any consistency? Or any decency.
Let’s look at another example.
Now we see one of the Mail’s favourite families. The Kardashians.
In particular the Mail talks about some of the youngest memebers of the family, the 16 and 14-year-old teenagers calling them “Teen bikini queens”. The story chronicles their day out to the beach. We get multiple pictures of them in their bikinis, and phrases such as “Not exactly shy!” below a picture of one of them putting a pair of shorts on.
Another story gives us eight pictures of 16-year-old Hailey Baldwin on a trip to the beach and is brazen enough to say in the headline “Protective father Stephen Baldwin is on hand to keep an eye on” her. Well it’s not surprising her father is there when one of the most influential newspapers in the world is willing to publish photographs of her being “stripped down”. The photos have obviously been taken by a photographer at a distance with a long lens and with the participants having very little, if any knowledge, they are being ‘papped’.
Their privacy is being invaded from a terribly young age and it’s no wonder celebrities have come out so strongly against the press at the Leveson Inquiry.
And some more headlines… this time featuring the Mail’s favourite phrase describing a teenager they shouldn’t be publishing a story about…. “all grown up”.
I think you get the picture by now.
Everything above, and most of the articles in the so called ‘sidebar of shame’, show all that is wrong with the Daily Mail. Yes, it can do brilliant campaigning journalism and offer a different perspective to other media organisations but where will the line be drawn? There needs to be some decency these young women are growing up with pictures of them relaxing at the beach being published online.
All this does is to tell society that this is acceptable thing to be talking and an acceptable way to treat these young women. I wonder if it every crosses the journalists’ or photographers’ minds what if would be like if their child was treated like this?
The only reason the pictures are being used is because people will click on them and look at them providing more success for the Mail, more clicks, and the likelihood they will publish more stories of the same kind.
Of course there is no way to stop people clicking on these stories, but highlighting this sort of practice will alert more people to the problem.
Publishing pictures of teenage girls in their bikinis, making them sexualised objects from a young age, and making it sound appropriate with phrases such as “all grown up” is not only damaging for those involved it is damaging for the media and those that consume it.
At the simplest it is ethically wrong. At its most complex it involves privacy issues (as well as decency).
As a society we need to say “No Daily Mail, this is not ok”. We need to complain to the paper and its editor, and whatever body comes out of the Leveson Inquiry. If we don’t this behaviour will continue and become even more common. There is no stopping a problem that isn’t proactively tackled.
If you would like to write to the Editor to complain about this behaviour here is the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org