STUDENTS
19/06/2012 11:09 BST

A Nearly-Naked Kim Kardashian Sums Up Everything Wrong With Western Society, Says Dr Helen Wright

Photos of scantily clad celebrities such as Kim Kardashian sum up "almost everything that is wrong with Western society", according to a leading headmistress.

Young people are bombarded with messages about physical appearance being more important than character, Dr Helen Wright argues.

Premature sexualisation and the objectification of women is rife on TV, the internet and magazine.

Success should not mean being rated "the hottest woman in the world", she says.

Kim Kardashian and that Zoo cover

In a speech to the Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE) this week, Wright, headmistress of St Mary's Calne, a private girls boarding school in Wiltshire, will say: "I have spoken out a lot over the past two years about the increasing dangers of the premature sexualisation of young people, and the objectification of women which accompanies this.

"And this is what our young people see around them all the time: online, in magazines, on TV.

"It is not too strong a statement, I venture to suggest, to say that almost everything that is wrong with Western society today can be summed up in that one symbolic photo of Miss Kim Kardashian on the front of Zoo magazine.

"The descent of Western civilisation can practically be read into every curve (of which, you will note, there are indeed many). Officially the hottest woman in the world? Really? Is this what we want our young people to aim for? Is this what success should mean to them?"

Kardashian is famous for "the reality TV series, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, for hanging out with the rich and famous, for a sex tape, a 72-day marriage and a rather ample backside", Wright will claim.

The star was also rated one of this year's most influential celebrities.

"What is she telling our young people about life? As a society, we have clearly attached a value to her, and there may be some messages about hard work buried in there somewhere - I expect she has to slave in the gym to keep that posterior in shape - but these are very hidden messages, buried under the other messages surrounded by glitz and sparkle," Wright will say.

"Messages about physical appearance being more important than character or substance, for instance, or messages about financial rewards coming with meanness, scandal and boundary-less living.

"The pupils in our schools really are soaking up a diet of empty celebrity and superficiality. They are under a huge amount of pressure, buffeted by these images and messages."

Schools must lead the way in helping young people understand who they are and instil good values, she says.

Wright, a former president of the Girls' Schools Association, will also tell the IDPE, which supports people working in development in schools, that politicians are "far too involved in schools and should, basically, back off."

"I do understand why politicians do get involved, because the state education system is in such a mess and too many schools are failing and, actually, I do believe that our politicians are very well-intentioned in getting involved in education. But so much of the mess is of politicians' own making," she will say.

"Schools need flexibility, the freedom to look ahead. They don't need to be placed artificially in competition with one another or overwhelmed by bureaucracy. It is stultifying. If this legislation was working, why do our business leaders say that so many young people aren't fit to work? Clearly it isn't in many schools."

Dr Wright, look away now...