America the Beautiful 3: The Sexualization of Our Youth

Movie review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
America the Beautiful 3: The Sexualization of Our Youth Movie Poster Image
Powerful docu has graphic scenes and strong language.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 100 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Focuses heavily on the negative effects of the media's sexualization of youths. But a former beauty pageant queen says that "Confidence comes from knowing you're worthy and valued by those who love you the most. Not from flaunting your body." Also a strong anti-bullying message toward the end of the movie.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cali Linstrom is a great example of a confident, happy, and healthy young woman. Although she's suffered from an eating disorder and depression, she was able to spark change within Abercrombie & Fitch after staging protest in response to the CEO's exclusionary comments. She previously made an anti-bullying video and eventually collaborated with Abercrombie & Fitch to fight bullying. Her "Are You an Ally" anti-bullying campaign has a positive outcome at the end of the movie. Also features experts like author Liz Securro, a victim of college campus rape' Carolyn Costin, an eating disorder expert; and Gail Dines, an anti-pornography activist, author, and college professor.

Violence

A cell phone video shows a famous rapper assaulting a woman. Explores sexual assault and rape culture on college campuses (i.e., a flier found at Miami University in Ohio listing "10 Ways to Get Away with Rape"). Behind-the-scenes porn footage includes images of women being violently objectified.

Sex

Explores how children begin to be sexualized from a young age. Focuses on beauty pageants, where young girls dance provocatively in skimpy outfits with full hair and makeup. Scenes of young kids dancing inappropriately and kissing on the playground. Ads of kids and adults in skimpy clothing are shown throughout the movie (especially Abercrombie & Fitch's notorious catalogs). Teen moms talk about their sexual experiences. Also explores pornography; graphic images and videos are blurred.

Language

Plenty of strong language, including variations of "f--k," "bitch," "ass," "slut," "whore," and "ho." One use of the "N" word. A professor teaches a college class about porn that includes a slide with some of the crude words that are searched for or that women are called, including "p---y," "c--t," "skank," and more.

Consumerism

Plenty of huge corporations are shown -- Abercrombie & Fitch, Cosmopolitan, CosmoGirl, Calvin Klein, Carl's Jr., Playboy, Tinder, and more -- but it's not in a promotional/product-placement way. Ads are displayed throughout the movie. Explores how the deregulation of TV allowed the media to market and sexualize children in order to drive consumerism.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A mother and daughter are arrested for underage drinking. College students talk about being drunk and/or high.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that America the Beautiful 3: The Sexualization of Our Youth explores the ways in which children begin to be sexualized at an early age and the effects that process carries into young adulthood. Toddlers and young girls in beauty pageants are shown in skimpy outfits and dancing provocatively. Sexualized ads from major corporations like Abercrombie & Fitch, Carl's Jr., Calvin Klein, and more that feature kids, adults, and celebrities are shown throughout the movie. College students talk about being drunk or high, and a mother and daughter are arrested for underage drinking. There's a video of a famous rapper violently assaulting a woman. Strong language is used toward the end of the movie, including variations of "f--k," "bitch," "ass," "slut," "whore," and more. The film also explores pornography -- scenes and images are blurred but still graphic and disturbing -- and rape culture on college campus, which may make this installment in the America the Beautiful series better suited for older viewers.

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What's the story?

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL 3: THE SEXUALIZATION OF OUR YOUTH is the follow up to director Darryl Roberts' previous America the Beautiful documentaries. While Roberts previously explored America's obsession with looks and weight loss, here he examines the effects of child beauty pageants, highly sexualized advertisements, teen pregnancy, pornography, and rape culture. His film argues that girls are taught to be "desirable or invisible" and that pornography has made it difficult for boys to create and maintain healthy relationships. Through interviews with industry experts, adults, and teens, Roberts provides a frank look at the way sex has become ingrained in American culture from early childhood to young adulthood.

Is it any good?

The film's most powerfully raw and disturbing moments occur when Roberts discusses rape culture with rape victims and covers the violent objectification of women in pornography. Although not much time is spent searching for a solution to this ever-increasing problem in America, it's still refreshing to see a young woman -- Roberts' intern, Cali Linstrom -- actively take a stand against bullying. We might not be able to spark as much change as Linstrom did with Abercrombie & Fitch, but society could be much different if others followed her lead to prevent the sexualization of today's youth.

It might have been more effective to focus on one or two of the topics presented in America the Beautiful 3, but you can't ignore the harsh picture it paints about the sexualization of today's youth, which has detrimental effects at every developmental stage. Roberts explores how child beauty pageants and the media's highly sexualized advertisements reinforce the idea that outward appearances are a measure of worth, while also focusing on one aspiring actress' journey to become famous -- which frustratingly includes both her and her mother changing their minds about the possibility of posing for Playboy.

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