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How lads' mags in supermarkets have sexualised our young children and 'pornified' society

A new report has slammed so-called 'lads' mags' for contributing to the "pornification" of society.

Such magazines should carry an age warning, while music videos with sexual posing should not be shown until late in the evening, the report says.

It highlighted the increasing sexualisation of society, saying it puts both girls and boys under unprecedented pressure to conform to gender stereotypes from a young age.

Girls were pressured into appearing sexually available and "hot", while boys were forced to appear macho and to think about women as sexual objects.

The UK report, by psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, recommended a wholesale crackdown on images of nudity, sex and violence on television, in magazines and on bill boards .

Dr Papadopoulos suggested a series of initiatives including:

  • Banning the sale of lads' magazines such as Zoo and Nuts from under-15s, and restricting them to top shelves to keep them out of children's eyeline.

  • Forcing airbrushed and digitally altered photographs to display ratings symbols to show the extent to which the images had been changed.

  • Sexist and stereotyped images of women should be banned from outdoor billboards.

  • Music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics should only be broadcast after the "watershed".

  • Games consoles should be sold with parental controls already switched on. Purchasers must choose to "unlock" the console if they wish to allow access to adult and online content.

Dr Papadopoulos highlighted a 'drip drip effect' where the "previously unthinkable becomes widely acceptable" in modern society.

"Children and young people today are not only exposed to increasing amounts of hyper-sexualised images, they are also sold the idea that they have to look 'sexy' and 'hot'," she said.

"As such, they are facing pressures that children in the past simply did not have to face."

She said the "unprecedented" rise in publication of such images encourages "body surveillance" and "constant monitoring of personal appearance".

This can result in mental and physical health issues, she said.

The report said magazines aimed at young men contributed to the problem.

"Lads' mags contain a high degree of highly-sexualised images of women that blur the lines between pornography and mainstream media," she said. "The predominant message for boys is to be sexually dominant and to objectify the female body."

The report also called for curbs on magazines targeted at teenage and pre-teen girls arguing that these publications stressed the need for girls to present themselves as sexually desirable in order to attract male attention.

It warned: "Sexualised ideals of young, thin, beauty lead to ideals of bodily perfection that are difficult to attain, even for the models, which perpetuates the industry practice of 'airbrushing' photographs.

"These images can lead people to believe in a reality that does not exist, which can have a particularly detrimental effect on adolescents."

In our celebrity-obsessed society, women are habitually heralded as successful and celebrated for their sex appeal and appearance -- with little reference to their intellect or abilities, Dr Papadopoulos said.

She said it was unacceptable that stereotyped -- and often sexualised -- images of women could be displayed on billboards where children could see them.