Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm Yes, Then I'm No

Attention Internet! I have something very important to write about: Katy Perry's cleavage. Specifically, Katy Perry's cleavage on Sesame Street.

Katy Perry was scheduled to be on Sesame Street in a skit with Elmo doing a kid friendly version of her song "Hot N Cold." It has already been taped and the clip can be viewed online at YouTube, but Sesame Street has decided not to air it on the show due to complaints about the singer's outfit and cleavage.

A Sesame Street spokesperson issued a statement:

Sesame Street has a long history of working with celebrities across all genres, including athletes, actors, musicians and artists. Sesame Street has always been written on two levels, for the child and adult. We use parodies and celebrity segments to interest adults in the show because we know that a child learns best when co-viewing with a parent or care-giver. We also value our viewer's opinions and particularly those of parents. In light of the feedback we've received on the Katy Perry music video which was released on You Tube only, we have decided we will not air the segment on the television broadcast of Sesame Street, which is aimed at preschoolers.

I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I think this is being blown way out of proportion. Think about it, Miss Piggy shows cleavage! (granted, not a sesame street character). Ariel, anyone?? Seriously, is cleavage really that bad?

It's so hard for me to say because I do defend the idea that young girls are being sexualized way too young and the media is a big part of that. But, I don't think young women should be ashamed of their bodies either. I don't think a young woman should be told (directly or indirectly) that she's a bad person for showing cleavage, or shoulder for that matter! (ah, memories) You could have the same dress on one girl with a B cup and another girl with a D cup and the girl with a D cup is going to be showing more cleavage. Does this make the girl with the larger breasts "slutty" or a "bad influence?" I tend to think behavior is more indicative of whether or not a person is a good or bad influence than clothing choice.

I don't totally blame parents for getting worked up about it considering the numerous things they have to worry about when it comes to their children. But I would argue that in this particular video I don't think her body is being put on display in the same way that it might be in, say, one of her music videos. So much depends on context. I think the skit with Elmo is cute and Katy Perry the singer/celebrity is dressed like Katy Perry the singer/celebrity. That's who Sesame Street invited on their show and that's what they got. They clearly didn't have a problem with her outfit until parents started complaining. They obviously told her beforehand, "hey we need to change your lyrics so they're appropriate for the show." They didn't say a word about her outfit though, so I kind of think that's their fault. They should know their audience, and maybe should've seen the backlash coming.

It's when we put forth the idea that you have to be "sexy" to be valued, that it's cause for alarm. I think Sesame Street is safe on that front. But I also think healthy body image is important too. It's hard because there's no set "line" when it comes to what women should look like in order to avoid being labeled as "too sexy." But I'm glad there isn't. I'm sure it would be a lot easier if we could say "well if there was 2 more inches of fabric on the bust and 1 more inch longer on the hemline it would be acceptable. But as it stands, she's a total skank." I'm glad I don't live in a world where women are either "whores" or "prudes." Oh wait, sometimes I do live in that world... but the point is that it shouldn't be like that!

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