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Campaign to stop retailers selling products that prematurely sexualise children - let us know what you think...

(781 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 05-Jan-10 12:58:29

So quite a few folk on the MN campaigns thread mentioned that an issue they'd like to see MN get involved in is the premature sexualisation of children.

So we've put together an outline for a potential campaign, along the lines of Let girls be girls, summarising the issues and some of the research. The aim is to encourage retailers to make a simple, public pledge that commits them to selling only products which do not sexualise children.

Please do have a read and let us know your thoughts, ideas, suggestions.


SoupDragon Tue 05-Jan-10 13:00:21

Are you only focussing on girls?

Although I have to admit that I'm struggling to think of a similar "problem" with boys

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 05-Jan-10 13:06:46

Yes we thought so because it really is only about girls as far as we can see, but happy to be proved wrong and if so call it Let children be children (which sounds less like a porn mag?)

plantsitter Tue 05-Jan-10 13:10:00

I think it's great. I do think it's a problem particularly experienced by girls. I'd probably mention something about how this sexualisation reinforces the idea of girls' 'otherness'. This must surely affect the way girls see their relationships with boys their own age as they develop, as well as influencing the way young boys think about girls their own age.

Presumably we don't know yet what effect this will have on the relationships between the women and men these children will become.Can't imagine it being a good one though.

I totally agree. It's horrifying how many products aimed at 7-10 year old girls have inappropriate slogans, messages or images portrayed on them. It makes me cringe to see children 'growing up' so quickly and I wish someone would put their foot down and force retailers to be more responsible in their marketing.

EffiePerine Tue 05-Jan-10 13:12:06

I think the boys issue is less about sex and more about violence - so many army camo outfits, aggressive slogans and so on. But (as the mum of 2 boys) I think the girls' issue is more important - I find it so sad.

There was a story in the paper last night about gangs targeting girls of 10 and 11 for sexual abuse - and that girls expected to be abused by their friends and boyfriends

SoupDragon Tue 05-Jan-10 13:12:44

Too many syllables in "Let children be children".

RudolfThreadNosedReindeer Tue 05-Jan-10 13:14:07

In terms of the sale of products, girls are very much the main victims I think?

Speaking as the mother of boys only, it seems to me that boys aren't pressured into premature adulthood or sexuality by marketing in the ways that girls are. They are very much more allowed to be children.

In fact, imo girls exercise a major pressure on boys towards premature sexuality. They are hassled and embarrassed by girls into thinking about 'Relationships' way before these matter to them. So when we free girls of some of the pressures of premature sexuality, we might give boys a little exra freedom too.

Let kids be kids??

CaptainNancy Tue 05-Jan-10 13:17:21

Excellent. I am really glad you are doing this- thank you to everyone involved. Will read properly later when dc asleep.

SoupDragon Tue 05-Jan-10 13:17:28

Don't pimp my kid?


BigBadMummy Tue 05-Jan-10 13:26:52

Totally agree.

As a mother of two girls I am always horrified at the stuff I see on sale when trying to buy clothes for them.

Happy to add my name to any petition / further action that MN takes.

Definitely behind this!
"Chidhood for our children"?
i was horrified to see some music videos for the first time in ages the other day (100 sexiest music videos hmm) and would hate my DD to grow up thinking that's what she's aspiring to.
Will this include clothing lines created / endorsed by celebrities like Jordan and Kerry Katona??

AnnieBeansMum Tue 05-Jan-10 13:31:49

I completely agree with this campaign and would be more than happy to sign my name to back this.

My mother bought my DD (2) a lovely outfit for her birthday and I shocked to discover a pair of black high heeled shoes in the bottom of the box! hmmangry Granted, they were very low heels, but HEELS! For a 2 year old?! FFS!

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Tue 05-Jan-10 13:34:06

I think this is a great campaign,

was it last year that there were little girls knickers on sale with the slogan "bite me"
on them... I know this could have various meanings but there should have been a picture of Peppa Pig or the days of the week or something.

cleanandclothed Tue 05-Jan-10 13:34:27

I think 'let kids be kids' sounds great. I wholeheartedly agree that some of the clothing/swimwear/'toys' for girls is horribly inappropriate.

On a related but slightly different note, could you also add into the campaign a plea to stop early gender stereotyping? I think part of the problem with the sexual girly stuff is that shops seem to want to split everything into a 'boys' section and a 'girls' section (which are blue and pink, obviously) rather than having a glorious multicoloured 'children's' shop.

The boys problem is not so much that things are inappropriate, but they might actually want something (like a toy pushchair, or a doll, or a dark pink/purple T shirt) but because it is either pink or frilly they (or their fathers' hmm ) don't want it.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 05-Jan-10 13:34:59

One aspect of this is the redefinition of 'child' and 'teen'.

Reading classic children's books, you were a child until you were an adult, pretty much. The older 'children' seemed to have a lot of freedom to do appropriate big-child stuff (camping, exploring, dancing, plays etc).

Then came the invention of 'teenage'. OK, well, most of us survived that.

Now though, if you're trying to buy clothes for your upper-junior age daughter, you find that in many brands 'teens' starts at 10 or even less. hmm

GrimmaTheNome Tue 05-Jan-10 13:42:18

CleanAndClothed - actually, my DDs favourite fuschia pink sweater is from Next boys. Her friend has a pale pink one from M&S boys. (V or crew neck simple classic sweaters for girls are completely non-existent)

About the only way to keep my nearly 11-year old DD decently clad is to buy nearly as much from the 'boys' side as the 'girls'!

ForestFloor Tue 05-Jan-10 13:44:23

Yep, this is a great idea. The pornification of our culture has been rapid and widespread and it really concerns me. Girls think their Facebook pics have to be semi-nude, that they are being prudish if they don't wear thongs and agree to sexual acts that should really be left to experienced adults shock. This filters down, younger and younger, and you get under 10's in the playground tossing their hair, waggling their hips and being waaay to aware of how their bodies can make people react.
I agree that marketeers have found a new market and are pursuing it relentlessly, with no regard for the implications. It is very hard to hold back the tide when it seems like the rest of the world is comfortable with sexualising children but we should try, for everyone's sakes.
Cheers Mumsnet for starting this. What else can we do to get involved?

policywonk Tue 05-Jan-10 13:44:57

Re. boys' clothing - I wonder whether it's a less pressing issue because men's sexual image/availability is less publicly 'constructed' than women's is. We can all list the things that are considered 'sexy' for women (lace, frills, low cut, high cut, lots of flesh, sheer, black, tight etc etc), whereas there isn't such a universally recognised 'sexy' uniform for men.

LOL at 'don't pimp my kids'

sfxmum Tue 05-Jan-10 13:45:53

I wholeheartedly support this campaign

I cannot understand why parents buy heels and 'grown up' clothing for young children
along with that the constant use of the word 'sexy' is just sick

but along with the girls issue there is also the camouflage look for boys - really? mini soldiers? isn't that just for, at best, dress up pretend play?

sfxmum Tue 05-Jan-10 13:49:41

oh yes and alter neck crop tops for little girls just wrong on so many levels

like it has been said the pornification of society is a huge issue

perverting the freedom gained to aspire to being a ho

am getting depressed now

GrimmaTheNome Tue 05-Jan-10 13:51:18

Camo is at least practical - I have in the past bought camo trousers for DD as they don't show the mudstains so badly.

And wholesome wildlife photographer types wear it - its not necessarily a symbol of violence.

RubysReturn Tue 05-Jan-10 13:54:34

I think the motivation behind this is excellent and as a mum of three girls, I have to actively seek clothes that I believe to be age approriate.

However, I think are a few points that warrant consideration:

Firstly - we all have different ideas about what we consider to be too 'adult' in appearance. The threads on ear piercing are a good example of what one person thinks is inappropriate at 4, another thinks at 7, and another at 10. I think 'strappy' tops are too adult for little girls, but I know lots of people like them as cool and summery. So I think it could be quite hard to find terms of reference for this. Fortunately ill advised slogans are quite easy to identify!

Secondly - the size of different girls means that a top designed for a 10 yo could quite easily be worn by a 6-7 yo or equally a 13yo depending on their build. I think this is where Next can look bad as they do a 'trendy' range that goes from 5-16; as if a 5yo and a 16yo would want to wear the same item!

Thirdly - these products sell, so it is an unusual retailer that cares about the opinion of people who don't buy from them.

I'm not awfully keen on the pseudo violent boys clothes either.

MmeLindt Tue 05-Jan-10 13:55:20

Very good idea.

A lot of the problems stem from companies like Next or even Marks and Spencer who lump girls together from age 3 to age 16.

The kind of clothes a 16yo is going to be interested in are not the clothes that I would want my 7yo DD wearing. And certainly not suitable for a 3yo.

Saying that, I think that Next are improving. I had a look at their website and the clothes are much more suitable for younger girls than they used to be.

cyteen Tue 05-Jan-10 13:55:53

totally support this, will try and come back to it later when not in active charge of a toddler.

Astrophe Tue 05-Jan-10 13:56:21

I haven't been able to read this book yet as its out of stock everywhere, but I've heard its very good - may be worth a read if you can get it, and may have some research/stats to help the campaign?

RockBird Tue 05-Jan-10 13:57:34

Totally behind this, another one who will read properly later blush

RubysReturn Tue 05-Jan-10 13:59:03

<<sits next to Mde Lindt nodding sagely>>

Miggsie Tue 05-Jan-10 14:03:00

I support it too.
I really object to items that are gender neutral (such as desk calendars or weaning cups) only being offered as pink or blue! Is there a particular need for this?
And don't give me the "people buy them" arguement. If I really really needed something and it was only available in a gender colour I would buy it, but not because it was colour coded... but beacause I needed it and those were the only colours it came in

I also object to the "sexy" clothes for young girls.

On one hand we have a society terrified that a peadophile might attack their child, yet allowing totally inappropriate items to be sold to young girls.

I think this is also linked to the lack of older women on gives the impression that being young and attractive in a sort of mid twenties nirvana is the only thing women aged 10 - 50 should or need to aspire to. Outside this look or age group, you cease to exist.

So we are trashing both the youth and mature years for women and give them zero value.

onebatmother Tue 05-Jan-10 14:10:53

Astrophe that book looks great. Will hunt it down.

JackBauerisreadyforDay8 Tue 05-Jan-10 14:11:58

Totally behind this.
I am finding it difficult looking for clothes for my DD1 as she is 3, but wears a 6-7 yr old size.
Having clothes made for an 'age range' means she is now looking at having to wear preteen clothes, none of which are remotely appropriate for a pre teen, let alone a toddler. So I end up dressing her mostly in boys clothes, which drives me mad.

I also ahve the problem that the 'nicer' designed clothes are much more expensive. I buy clothes from asda/tesco/matalan/new look and these clothes do tend to be tartier/more slogany than your Gap/Next etc.

I am fully on the bandwagon with this one, DD is in age 7-8 clothes and I struggle to find nice "childrens" clothes, its all low cut or open backed tops with sexy this or "this bitch bites" "i love boys, clothes and chocolate" or whatever, it infuriates me, and then you get the underwear with inapropriate slogans on for a teenager never mind a 7 year old.

LeninGrad Tue 05-Jan-10 14:15:12

Sign me up Scottie. So, what are we going to do? Note on here and complain when something crap is for sale? Posters? This stuff is becoming so deeply engrained but it'd be good to at least attempt to register that it's not on.

As has been said though, there is a market for it and that will be difficult to stop.

onebatmother Tue 05-Jan-10 14:15:39

Interesting re boys/girls. I think boys very much suffer the knock-on of all this, in that their relationships with girls and then women are fogged by what marketing/media tells them girls/women 'are'.

stillfrazzled Tue 05-Jan-10 14:24:41

I only have a boy so far, but I'm (a) horrified at the tarty cr*p that passes for girlswear and (b) deeply deeply irritated by the pink and blue divide.

So count me in, MN, great idea.

And once we've conquered that particular problem, could we move on to the vexed question of why small boys' clothing is so utterly sh*te? You know, cruddy slogans, boring colours, only a third of the choice as girls get (even if most of girls' stuff is fit only for pole-dancers...).

InThisSequinBraYesYouOlaJordan Tue 05-Jan-10 14:30:02

Sounds like a good idea - I am constantly appalled at the inappropriatness of many things for little girls - it is easier with boys IMHO.

Paolosgirl Tue 05-Jan-10 14:39:12

Let kids be kids has my vote. Although I agree that girls are under more pressure, boys don't escape it altogether. I've got 2 boys and one girl, so experience the sexualisation of girls clothes and the pressure for boys to embrace violence and agression.

missorinoco Tue 05-Jan-10 14:46:34

I would be behind such a campaign. I find some of the clothes aimed at girls under ten shocking, even from companies like Next who don't even specialise in rubbish like high heels for babies.

It also bugs me how all boys clothes are about being naughty or fighting or being rough or cheeky and I dont even have boys!

Great idea. Haven't got time to contribute anything sensible right now but will read properly when DD is in bed

CliffRichardSucksEggsInHell Tue 05-Jan-10 15:04:44

I'm behind this 100%. Thongs for tots is a step too far and totally inappropriate, as are some of the slogans on tots t-shirts. I blame FCUK ;)

Children should not be used to advertise inappropriate messages or adult humour. It's just not funny.

And yes I've seen stuff for boys too so I do think we should include ALL children in this and not just girls.

But where do you start? There are boob tubes for tots, skirts that just skim their knickers, high-heeled shoes the likes of Tom Cruises's dd favours - where do you start? I cannot believe that somewhere in a boardroom came up with the idea of high heels for little 5yo girls. Such people should be charged with cruelty along with their parents. Because it is cruel to force small, growing feet into such an unnatural position. And aren't heels supposed to elongate your legs thus enhancing your sexuality? Again, for a 5yo???

Count me well and truly in on this campaign. Children are being used by adults to send out adult messages that are beyond them and it's time it was stopped.

MmeLindt Tue 05-Jan-10 15:06:25

Good point, onebat.

What signals are we sending to boys when we dress our girls in thongs and high heels?

Thus it is damaging to both boys and girls.

Jux Tue 05-Jan-10 15:11:49

I'm with you on this, and dh will sign up too.

We've been horrified by the sort of clothes available for dd, now 10, all her life. It's worse in the cheap shops I think. At one point we could only afford clothes from charity shops or Asda and Asda was awful, mini-women-on-the-pull stuff. I used to harangue the manager of Clarkes shoes too, about having high heels for kids.

It's not just clothes though is it? There was that huge fuss about a bed/bedroom furniture at Woolworths (was it?). And films, kids' films. We don't see many, but Arthur and the Invisibles comes to mind.

Hopefully, if we tackle the clothes thing the rest will follow naturally.

Good on you, MN.

whoopstheregoesmymerkin Tue 05-Jan-10 15:16:39

Excellent, behind you all the way. Mailed you a contact for the excellent Girlguiding UK just in case you don't have one.

Perhaps you could add Brantano to the hit list - Bratz hooker high heels for toddlers. Also send maybe send Tom Cruise a link as he seems to think his 3yo daughter looks cute wearing full face and heels...

eastendmummy Tue 05-Jan-10 15:16:48

I'm completely behind this. As the mother of boys only I am so sick of the division in toy shops between girls and boys toys along the 'girls like to play in the kitchen and boys like to play with cars' line.

A campaign such as this needs to target clothes retailers along with toy retailers (ELC are terrible at the gender stereotyping) because it seems that every choice we have as parents to buy things for our children is predetermined by their gender. As earlier posters have stated, why can my son not be interested in dolls or pushchairs?

It would be good if girls and boys could just be treated as children and not mini adults. This is particularly a concern with girls as they are so much more vulnerable to being sexualised from a young age and conditioned to believe a certain view of women based upon the clothes they wear and the toys they play with.

FimBOW Tue 05-Jan-10 15:19:56

I agree with all points made regarding girls clothing.

Also Facebook is a pain ub the bloddy neck too. Kids get round the age thing by simply putting in a false year, my dd is on it, it wouldn't be my choice for her but she needs to be the same as her friends, I have seen cyber bullying first hand on it.

FimBOW Tue 05-Jan-10 15:21:00

Sorry with the Facebook thing, most of the girls having they are looking for relationships and their interests are men. They are only 11.

BitOfFun Tue 05-Jan-10 15:25:16

I'm in- great idea.

Fimbo, the facebook thing only happens because so many parents go along with it though, surely?

Beasknees Tue 05-Jan-10 15:26:50

I'm in. Nothing inciteful to add just all round agree with the need not to sexualise our children with clothing, toys etc.

FimBOW Tue 05-Jan-10 15:33:34

I guess BofF.

cleanandclothed Tue 05-Jan-10 15:35:07

Can I make a suggestion? We all look out in major chain stores (eg Asda, Tesco, Next, M&S, Gap, Mothercare etc etc) for both the worst premature sexualisation item (eg bikini with an inappropriate slogan), and the silliest item that the shop feels the need to have in pink and blue only (such as a potty) or in only pink/with female slogans on or only in blue/with male slogans on. We then link them here.

Depending on the examples (and I bet we come up with some crackers) we can then either write letters/MN can use them to get publicity for the campaign/we can invite the chief executive on here for a webchat to explain themselves.

snigger Tue 05-Jan-10 15:39:11

Vehemently pro this campaign.

OtterInaSkoda Tue 05-Jan-10 15:43:47

Hmmm. I think MN needs to tread carefully, otherwise it (we? they?) run the risk of coming over all Daily Mail. There's a strong whiff of moral panic here imo.

OtterInaSkoda Tue 05-Jan-10 15:48:00

Just to add - I think we need to define the project clearly, iykwim, otherwise it could look a bit daft and Mary Whitehousey.

I agree with this campaign too. I think children should be allowed to be children for as long as possible.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 05-Jan-10 16:05:45


Just popping in to say do please feel free to post any links to items you've seen recently that you think are hideously inappropriate.

Thank you.

BitOfFun Tue 05-Jan-10 16:09:44

Agree with Otter too- we need to be clear what the parameters are here, and not confuse it with things like withdrawing children from PSHE classes at school etc.

That's why "Let Girls Be Girls" is better as a slogan than using children more generally. It doesn't invite confusion in quite the same way, and makes more of a distinction between what we mean and what the DM means.

SqueezyIsStartinAResolution Tue 05-Jan-10 16:18:22

Agree 100% with this, fab idea MN!

Here is an example of a slogan t shirt OK it's not high street but it is available from babies to adult sizes, as are all the t shirts on the website, some are much worse. Yuck!

This is available from age 3-15! shock

GrimmaTheNome Tue 05-Jan-10 16:21:50

Not sure that 'Let Girls be Girls' helps with the gender divide, which is part of the problem. At various times DD didn't particularly want to be a girl, and certainly never a 'girly' girl.

BitOfFun Tue 05-Jan-10 16:28:31

A girl doesn't have to be 'girly' though- that is the whole point, surely?

I'm in too.

I can't believe the clothes we've trawled through to find something suitable for our 6 year old dd. She's girlie in that she likes dolls and princesses but she also likes climbing trees, getting covered in mud etc etc. I want comfy and practical, reasonably priced clothes, and they're almost impossible to track down. I've embarrassed dh many times by complaining loudly about the trash in M&S. The baby clothes are often lovely, but then it changes and it's slinky, sparkly, trashy tatangry

I think the sexualisation is mainly a problem for girls, but I'm sure it'll have an impact on their relationships with boys/men later on...

Don't get me started on the ELC pink/blue fixation...

fortyplus Tue 05-Jan-10 16:34:22

I think this goes SOOOOOOO much further than premature sexualisation of girls. There's the macho and violent stuff aimed at boys and we live in a society where it's 'cool' to wear a t-shirt with FCUK on it - when we all KNOW the Anglo Saxon word it's alluding to.

High Street chains such as Next and M&S have 'graffiti' prints - then we wonder why disaffected kids spray tags all over the place.

I'm an old fogey I know...

Actually, I've just had a very quick look at M&S website, and things seem to have improved somewhat.

SixtyFootDoll Tue 05-Jan-10 16:38:38

Totally support this campaign, I hate the 'pornification' of society as a whole.
While we are in the campainging mode, how about the removal of Nuts and similar mags to the top shelf?

OtterInaSkoda Tue 05-Jan-10 16:39:42

I do think we need to establish what we're objecting to (sorry, I know I'm repeating myself a bit). A few sequins on an M&S party dress does not equal sexualisation imo. Nor do a pair of dance or party shoes (thinking of the Tomkat dd here) with a little heel.

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Tue 05-Jan-10 16:41:15

I also think this is a great idea, but agree that the slogan or campaign title needs a lot of thought.

The 'girls don't have to be girlies' thing might be a good starting point - maybe something like 'Girls Not Girlies'?

Or a phrase to express the desire not to force sexualisation on to children - 'Keep childhood for kids' - 'Let them be' - I dunno.

I'm sure this whole thing will spark a huge amount of brainstorming.

TheCrackFox Tue 05-Jan-10 16:41:30

Count me in. I have 2 boys and I think the choice of clothes (T-shirts with "here comes trouble etc) are pretty grim but TBH the girls stuff frightens me.

I have 5 nieces and I worry about the pressure they are under.

Earthstar Tue 05-Jan-10 16:47:19

I would say your campaign is misguided because I don't think the issues are about girls tbh, I think they are issues about women.

The portrayal of women is that they need to be young looking and sexy to be successful and happy.

Stopping the sale of playboy pencil cases won't stop girls watching MTV and other media and aspiring to be Katie Price/ Victoria Beckham/ Kate Moss et al. Whilst posing for a playboy cover remains a desirable option, younger girls will want the pencil cases. If it was seen as crappy to pose for playboy then the playboy merchandise might still sell to men but teenage girls wouldn't want to buy it.

"Sexy" is still viewed as better than "clever" by huge numbers of girls and women. I hate this status quo personally, but is it really possible to change it?

LimburgseVlaai Tue 05-Jan-10 16:55:12

It did make me snort when I saw that "Deirdre Sanders from The Sun" has "weighed in on this issue, calling for a halt to the premature sexualisation trend."

Was that in the same paper that shows 16-year-old girls' tits on page 3??

I am all in favour of this campaign, but surely having the endorsement of The Sun just accentuates the hypocrisy around this issue.

Swedington Tue 05-Jan-10 16:56:39

Can we please campaign to stop our best-selling daily Newspaper publishing photographs of bare-breasted women first?

I'm uncomfortable about the merchandise idea. Mumsnet is in danger of coming across as only for those who wear knitted hats with side boings, love hummus and adore taboulleh.

MrsKitty Tue 05-Jan-10 17:02:05

very supportive of this campaign... D
D only 3 mths at the moment but can already see that I'm going to have to work hard to source what i deem to be age appropriate clothing once she's older.

Guess there must be a market for it or shops wouldn't stock it, but it's just wrong some of stuff out there!

Apologies for poor punctuation etc - one-handed typing wink

Swedington Tue 05-Jan-10 17:03:14

The thing is about the merchanidise is you do have a choice. DON'T BUY IT.

YeahBut Tue 05-Jan-10 17:03:37

Totally agree with the ideas behind the campaign but think the name needs work.

LeninGrad Tue 05-Jan-10 17:05:47
GrungeBlobPrimpants Tue 05-Jan-10 17:08:07

I'm right with you <unleashes inner Mary Whitehouse> but agree it's much more than merchandise. It's about portrayal of girls and women in media too.

It's everywhere - Cheryl cruddin' Cole as a living and admired Bratz doll, Disney Channel and Hannah frickin' Montana, boob jobs being an acceptable birdthday present for 18 yo's.

<adjusts knitted hat side boings>
<goes off to eat hummus in nunnery>

squeaver Tue 05-Jan-10 17:18:48

MNHQ - I'm sure you're aware of object. But, just in case you're not, you should let them know what you're doing - they do great lobbying work.

Great idea for a campaign btw. Remember when Woolies (was it?) was doing the Playboy duvet covers?

OtterInaSkoda Tue 05-Jan-10 17:26:15

Actually the more I read and think about this, the dafter it seems. Seriously.

I'm with Sue Scott (quoted in This Article which is linked to from the MN Let Girls be Girls campaign page).

Of the examples in that article, the only one that worries me as being possibly sexualising is the Playboy range, simply because imo it normalizes porn. It pissed me off to see a colleague wearing a Playboy top, too.

I suspect it's just me, Earthstar and Swedington who aren't overly enamoured with this campaign though hmm

wukter Tue 05-Jan-10 17:28:50

Fully behind this campaign.

sfxmum Tue 05-Jan-10 17:32:58

actually the page 3 issue is very disturbing to I really hate, for example, being on the train across from someone holding one of those papers open, it is worst than a straight up porn mag as it normalizes and trivialises those images
yuck yuck yuck

Swedington Tue 05-Jan-10 17:32:59

I think it's important that Mumsnet campaigns carry the signatures of those who are behind them; otherwise people are going to begin to feel pissed off.

Mrs Baldwin on the thread about the outdoor advertising is utterly brilliant.

UnrequitedSkink Tue 05-Jan-10 17:36:15

I'd definitely support this campaign.

surely the issue is stupid parents who buy the clothes?

2shoes Tue 05-Jan-10 17:40:12

so out of all the suggestions is this the one and only thing that will be campainged about??

OtterInaSkoda Tue 05-Jan-10 17:49:38

Please somebody else must share my misgivings! This reminds me of those FB groups people sign up to, called things like "Stop Poking Kittens With Sticks". Of course sexualising little girls is wrong, but where's the evidence that it's actually happening?

FWIW I think the biggest danger to young women's/girl's (and of course men's and boy's) psychological wellbeing sexually is the ease of access these days to porn on the net, and the ridiculous ideas kids have as to what a "normal" woman looks like. Bratz branded shoes have nothing on that.

sykes Tue 05-Jan-10 17:49:57

I agree with Sparrow - don't buy the tat or let your children read the rubbish "girls'" magazines or watch blatantly inappropriate tv programmes.

MojoLost Tue 05-Jan-10 17:53:08

I think it is a fantastic idea and would fully support this campaign. Where do I sign?

I agree that unfortunately the media has a lot to answer for this problem, but we've got to start somewhere.

moondog Tue 05-Jan-10 17:54:18

All very noble (although am a bit hmm at your assertion that Deirdre form the Sun and Archbish Rowan are authorities on the subject) but here's another idea.

Howzabout we say enough already with the legislation and voluntary codes and bans and campaigns and actually suggest that the people who buy this crap (ie the families of these kids) grow a backbone and stop buying this crap?

Or is that too old fashioned?

Swedington Tue 05-Jan-10 17:56:17

Yes, what happened to all the other suggestions on the Campaigns thread? Was this the sexiest? grin

Agree. Daft people who buy this rubbish are responsible. This is Mumsnet joining Labour's nanny state.

moondog Tue 05-Jan-10 17:59:17

Indeed Swede.
Did you see Mandelson's latest pamphelt on how to ease kids who overstay thier welcome out of the family home?

Hilarious article in Torygraph in which they matched up Labour finger wagging and handy hints and tips with column of same name in Viz.Scarcely any difference.

RudolfThreadNosedReindeer Tue 05-Jan-10 18:01:09

I largely agree with Swedington. Although I think this is a great thing to campaign about, and (if properly framed) one that few MNers are likely to actively disagree with, it does seem problematic to me that Mumsnet will run the campaign in the name of its 'members' even if only a few dozen or a few score or a few hundred comment on it on the board.

It is much more reminiscent of the editorially led "readers' campaigns" that you sometimes see in the newspapers than of the genuinely uncentralised twitterstorm-style campaigns that we associate with new media.

Not that there is anything particularly bad about that so long as it is properly presented. But I don't like the idea of something being inaccurately presented as the 'voice' of 1 million MN site visitors, or 270 registered users, or even 5000 or 10 000 regular posters. As 2shoes implies, there is no procedure for authoritatively determining a campaign that is the voice of MN.

RubysReturn Tue 05-Jan-10 18:02:09

I'm with otter!

I think there should be more appropriate clothing marketed for children and outlined the things I think need to be considered fairly early on. The variety of concerns on this thread show we are far from a cohesive voice.

I'd make removal of displayed porn from newsagents a higher priority tbh

Coincidentally I have been looking at build a bear and they even sell slutty clothes for teddies!!!

moondog Tue 05-Jan-10 18:03:46

Here's my take on all this stuff.

Too fat?
Move more, eat less. Stop buying into faddy diets

Feel depressed?
Switch off the tv and take a walk.

In debt?
Spend less

Failing educationally?
Turn the tv off

Besieged by advertising?
Turn the tv off

Unruly kids?
Show them who's in charge (and turn the tv off)

Can I run the country now please?

RubysReturn Tue 05-Jan-10 18:05:22

Moondog, I fear you are too cuddly and fuzzy to be taken seriously.

EightiesChick Tue 05-Jan-10 18:10:39

hmm Have noticed your tendency to have six-word answers for every problem, moondog. Don't care for it myself. I'm happy to admit things are more complex. But if it works for you..

I like this campaign idea, and while I do agree that porn could be seen as a bigger problem, I think this is an issue where there is more chance of getting something done. I can understand the problem with it appearing to represent all of MN as a homogenous mass, but that is always going to be a problem.

MegBusset Tue 05-Jan-10 18:16:00

I'm with Otter and Moondog, sorry. I think it's a pretty daft idea for a campaign (though sure to generate some press, which I'm guessing is the point). Ultimately it is for parents to decide what to dress their kids in, nobody is forcing them at gunpoint to buy this crap.

with you on all bar depression Moondog (have tried everything over the years - drugs is all that fixes me )

moondog Tue 05-Jan-10 18:23:45

Fair enough but I'm sure you'd agree that a walk and less tv help.

BitOfFun Tue 05-Jan-10 18:30:55

It depends what the campaign is aiming to do though- if it's to raise awareness with parents who unthinkingly buy the crap, and make retailers reconsider what designs they put out, then great.

If it's to encourage Government to draft legislation, then that is the wrong approach, imo.

But if you wait for every MNer to agree then we'll never campaign on anything.

ShinyAndNew Tue 05-Jan-10 18:36:24

What EarthStar said. But I'm not sure how you would change the role models in the media?

Dd1 has just turned 6 and has a picture of Cheryl Cole and the rest of the Girls Aloud crew on her wall, that came out of a magazine called 'princess' I believe, aimed at v young girls not teenagers.

In the poster they are all barely dressed. Dd1 tells me she has this picture so she can 'see what she wants to be like when she is older' to remind herself of what to aim for apparently sad

She wouldn't eat her xmas dinner because she was worried about getting fat sad

Yup, it does lift the lesser moods

Swedington Tue 05-Jan-10 18:42:44

BitOfFun Agree there will never be total agreement.

I have no objection really. I just think it's lame. And I hate the nannying aspect of it. Besides this was 2008 news. We are becoming last century forum.

Why don't we campaign to get tits out of mainstream newspapers? It's so much more obvious and punchy. Mumsnet to succeed where Claire Short failed. We should be pressing these poltical leaders who are tarting their parties on this forum for a commitment on this matter. Never mind biscuits.

I have a daughter and have never bought a Bratz doll or a Barbie or a pair of heels. Just say no fgs.

JeMeSouviens Tue 05-Jan-10 18:45:34

Agree with others who've said, DON'T BUY IT in the first instance. No market, no product. Use your own common sense to determine what is and what is not appropriate for your variously aged children.

Perhaps there should be a general campaign to parents to trust their instincts instead? 'Just Say No'

CocoK Tue 05-Jan-10 18:52:44

Great news! Do it. This is an important issue that parents should a) be more aware of and b) be able to do something about.

I think lots of people don't really think it through when they buy playboy logo underpants and high heels for their toddlers - they just think their kids look cute dressed like adults and want them to have the same 'desirable brands' that they have themselves, or whatever. Of course this is idiotic, especially as these same people probably also worry about pedophiles preying on their kids and just don't make the connection. I think society as a whole has lost the plot on this issue - paranoid about pedophilia but unable to stop girls being sexualised. For example, I can't stand it when I see women in magazines or videos dressed up as temptress school girls with pony tails and lacey white socks - what kind of fucked up message does that send out to our kids and the world in general?

But that's beside the point - rant over. In terms of your campaign, making people aware of the connotations some clothes and toys have in terms of sexualising young girls and telling retailers we don't want this crap thrown at our children anymore is long overdue so well done and let's do it!

I second the suggestion to consult Object on this campaign as they really know their stuff in terms of the objectification and sexualisation of girls and women.

MadameOvary Tue 05-Jan-10 19:00:05

Thank you for starting this. The whole Playboy etc thing horrifies me. Will read your manifesto asap smile

LynetteScavo Tue 05-Jan-10 19:23:23

Actually, I think this is a very touchy subject.

I've read on MN that other posters think bikinis for little girls is in apropriate. DH and I don't think there is anything sexual about a little girl in a Monsoon flowery bikini. Obviously others disagree.

Today I saw a 9yo from a very nice family, who goes to a very nice (private) school wearing a pair of high heeled boots.I thought this was inapropriate, because I didn't think they would do her feet/posture any good, not that they would sexualise her. But I see people vehmently in favousr of this campaign would think they do.

Isn't it largly a case of it being the cheaper clothes which are more "slutty/tarty" or whatever, and have the more violent slogans on boys t-shirts?

You don't see Johnny selling much tarty tat for kids - and I haven't noticed amuch at Gap.

Yes, I support this campaign, but at the end of the day if you don't think a pice of clothing is apropriate, don't dress your kids in it.

It's a bit like campainging against fast food; if you don't want it in your/ your DC's body, don't eat there.

OhForGodsSake Tue 05-Jan-10 19:24:39

god no
no prob with bikinis

LynetteScavo Tue 05-Jan-10 19:28:17

"But we reckon that, pre-puberty, children should not be presented as sexual or encouraged to believe that attracting the opposite sex is something they need to consider."

But surely puberty is the time when things need to be controlled by parents.

For example, a short skirt on a toddler is cute. A short skirt on a 13/14 yo would/could be considered inapropriate.

Earthstar Tue 05-Jan-10 19:34:02

Why not run a campaign that credibly gives girls something to aspire to other than being a playboy centrefold / member of girls aloud / footballer's wife?

Why not get the government and the BBC to celibrate and promote women for reasons unconnected to how "sexy" they are? They should be taking a lead on this issue not joining in with it all.

Why not foster a backlash against the narrow portrayal of women in the media?

Earthstar Tue 05-Jan-10 19:36:05

This campaign idea is like a bit of elastoplast for a severred limb - mumsnet should take on the real and important issue and not this little symptom of it.

MegBusset Tue 05-Jan-10 19:36:53

Who is going to be the arbiter of what is appropriate clothing for each age? Is there going to be a British Board of Clothing Classification telling you what your ten-year-old can and can't wear? Who is going to police the skirts of toddlers and 13-year-olds to decide whether they are long enough?

GrimmaTheNome Tue 05-Jan-10 19:39:07

Nice idea Earthstar. Especially at the moment when the only female scientist I can think of who's been in the papers much recently is Belle Du Jour.

Mamazon Tue 05-Jan-10 19:50:17

i am behind this fully.

I am tired of looking for shoes for DD and seeing them in her size with massive great heels on them. she's 5 ffs!

all children want to look more grown up but push up bra's for 10 year olds and mini skirts for toddlers, there is simply no need for it.

Swedington Tue 05-Jan-10 19:55:29

Mamazon - DD has huuuge feet and she's 4 (size 12.5) and I've never seen a pair of heeled shoes for her size. Really. Although I have seen pictures of Suri Cruise in heels and she looks like a freak rather than sexualised.

OurLadyOfPerpetualSupper Tue 05-Jan-10 20:28:50

I think they claim Suri's heels are flamenco shoes she's wearing while they're in Spain < recent trip to hairdresser's emoticon >.

Mamazon Tue 05-Jan-10 20:35:28

well i live in a pretty crap town which is populated with "chavs" so the shoe shops are shoe fair and shoe zone. they have horrendously high heeled shoes in their in a size 10!

they also have them in Adams, Next, new look, and various other high street stores.

BitOfFun Tue 05-Jan-10 20:42:56

I was curious, so I googled shoezone then and the first page I opened in Girls' Shoes, sizes 10-2 was this hmm

LynetteScavo Tue 05-Jan-10 20:50:38

Exactly Mamazon...
This seems to be somewhat a class thing.

DD is 4 and has size 11 feet, but I don't see heeled shoes for her because I go out looking for Startrite.

I don't see boobs tubes for her either, because I recieve 20,00 Boden catalogues a year, and never make the effort to go into Adams, or where ever sells them.

I can see the headline now; "Middle class Mumsnet becomes kids fashion police."

And I'm failing to see how high heeled shoes/booties whatever is sexualising. Quirky/Odd/bizare yes.

ForestFloor Tue 05-Jan-10 20:51:18

To those that say, just don't buy it - well I don't. But I do see that my dd is exposed to it all the time, if not from her peers, then billboards, newspapers and on a trip to the shops. I encourage talk about it and dd at the moment will say that she doesn't like it and give some reasons. However, she is 8. As she grows older, it is normal development to look towards peers and away from parents for guidance. I cannot keep DD in a bubble. Hence the need as a society to make this sexualisation (and yes, I do see it - all the time) a bad thing, nor normality.

As for MN not doing a campaign because they cannot be the voice of everyone - well if that were the case, nothing would ever get done hmm.

I agree it is not just merchandise, it is the image of women, porn, page 3, gender stereotypes - it is all bound together and profoundly depressing.

Good on MN for trying to do something about such a huge, complex and sadly entrenched problem.

LynetteScavo Tue 05-Jan-10 20:53:44

But who in their right mind would buy those, BitOfFun?

Yes, shoezone shouldn't sell them....but I guess people must be buying them. Although, to put a 4yo in them would be tantamount to physical abuse.

theyoungvisiter Tue 05-Jan-10 20:54:43

I agree very much with the thrust of this campaign but I would agree with posters suggesting it should be "let kids be kids" - I am against the agressive genderisation of clothing full stop.

There is an equally problematic issue with boys clothing - which is the demonisation of boys through slogans etc.

For eg, in Sainsburys you can only buy gendered bibs - the girls bibs all say things like "today I will be mostly adorable/perfect/cute as a button" and "little princess" - pukesome but harmless you would think.

The boys bibs ALL say things like "little monster" and "today I will be cheeky/noisy/a little terror". I really, really object to labelling my sweet little 12 month old a holy terror or a monster when he doesn't even know what gender he is yet.

I agree that early sexualisation of little girls is horrible, but I think that it is also very damaging for little boys to be constantly told they must be naughty as part of their gender identity.

I'd prefer to see the campaign widened out into a campaign against aggressive gendering. Why on earth is it necessary to gender bibs at all? As for why I buy them - because they don't sell a SINGLE sex-neutral bib. I have no choice.

DwayneDibbley Tue 05-Jan-10 20:54:54

Message withdrawn

LynetteScavo Tue 05-Jan-10 20:55:51

Just to clarify...I'm not against this campaing. I'm jsut plyaing devils advocate, as I think thereis more than one side to every story.

Mamazon Tue 05-Jan-10 20:57:05

lynette - how can high heels on a 4 year old not be sexualisation?

they aren't even party shoes that little girls can play dress up/princess in. these are actually marketed as school shoes!

it makes me so angry i actually told a woman in the shop once that was picking them up for her daughter to be ashamed of herslef.

not my finest hour but it is beyond beleif that some people think this is ok.
why they are made astounds me but why people buy them is just...well it just doesn't compute

LynetteScavo Tue 05-Jan-10 21:00:18

"And I'm failing to see how high heeled shoes/booties whatever is sexualising. Quirky/Odd/bizare yes."

I meant the soft booties type for babies.

I am quite hmm at 10/11 year olds in heals at weddings.

MegBusset Tue 05-Jan-10 21:00:56

I don't like camo gear or skulls or 'little monster' slogans for my boys, either. So I don't buy them. Simples!

partystress Tue 05-Jan-10 21:03:09

Yep fab idea and I support the idea of extending it to de-violence-ising boys' clothes - we are rightly appalled by child soldiers in Africa, yet I struggle to find non-Army style gear for my 9 year old DS. Don't think it's a case of trying to be taste and decency arbiters, but maybe some kind of MN kitemark for retailers who can convince us they have a decent policy and that they make sure they stick to it.

theyoungvisiter Tue 05-Jan-10 21:06:26

but meg - sometimes it's almost impossible to find a product without the slogans.

The coverall bibs for example - not many places sell them and generally there are only two kinds in stock, girl and boys. At Sainsbury's you can buy "little monster" or the "little princess" or go without - that's the choice.

MegBusset Tue 05-Jan-10 21:09:46

If only there was a fabulous place called the internet where people could order a huge range of goods in whatever style suited their personal taste!

I don't mean to be facetious, I really do think that pink crap and camo crap are, well, crap. But I really find it hard to believe that the vast majority of shoppers are genuinely hard-pressed to avoid this stuff -- at least until the DC are old enough to go and buy it themselves!

MegBusset Tue 05-Jan-10 21:12:37

I dunno. It's like saying "let's ban McD's/KFC/whatever from every high street because they're unhealthy for kids". You wouldn't say "well I had to go in and feed my kids that Happy Meal, I had no other choice".

theyoungvisiter Tue 05-Jan-10 21:20:27

Well yes I suppose I could trawl websites for coverall bibs and buy them online and pay extra plus P&P etc etc. But you know what - I shop at Sainsbury's and when a bib rips I need another one to replace it quick. I don't want to schlep around. I want the shop where I spend a hell of a lot of money to bear my views in mind when they design their products.

Also I guess it's partly down to whether you think people really are crying out for this aggressively gendered stuff.

I honestly don't think they are. I buy most of my children's clothes in Sainsburys (because it's cheap and easy and I can return it without hassle if it doesn't fit). The lines that sell out quick are the neutral ones. The red wellies. The stripy t-shirts. The bright green gloves.

The stuff left over in the sale is always the aggressive shiny pink wellies and the camouflage gloves. Yet they continue to stock it.

I think the lack of gender neutral stuff is a cynical ploy on behalf of retailers because they have realised that if they make stuff unwearable/unusable for the opposite gender, they will sell more because it can't be reused.

You can't pass a pink jersey saying "daddy's princess" down to a baby brother, that's the bottom line.

DwayneDibbley Tue 05-Jan-10 21:23:50

Message withdrawn

theyoungvisiter Tue 05-Jan-10 21:27:09

Plus also only available to the shopper who has a computer, an internet connection and a credit card.

Or do only middle-class people deserve to have a choice?

dittany Tue 05-Jan-10 21:29:50

It's a good idea for a campaign, but I do agree with Earthstar that there's a wider issue about the whole sexual objectification of women that needs to be addressed. The message that little girls are being given is that when they are woman, the most important thing about them will be how they look and whether they are regarded as sexually attractive to men. Even if less overtly sexualised products are sold to girls, that message isn't going to go away.

Obect has a report - Joining the Dots - which looks at the whole picture for both women and girls:

coldtits Tue 05-Jan-10 22:05:40
edam Tue 05-Jan-10 22:06:25

Great idea, I'll sign up. (Although I agree with Dittany about broader context, focusing on kids' clothes and products is a start.)

Swedington Tue 05-Jan-10 22:20:32

I think high heels on a 4 year old are comedy. High heeled school shoes are stupid adult who chose them.

Prettybetty Tue 05-Jan-10 22:33:30

Great idea!

GreenMonkies Tue 05-Jan-10 22:35:50

Not just sexualising, I am also horrified by the availability of high heels for little girls. Young feet, knees and hips are not developed enough to cope with the stress that high heels put on them, I have seen heels in the children's department that I would struggle to walk far in!

We need to keep our children children. grown up stuff is for grown ups!!!

coldtits Tue 05-Jan-10 22:49:37
coldtits Tue 05-Jan-10 22:50:27
coldtits Tue 05-Jan-10 22:52:26
FluffyForLifeNotJustForXmas Tue 05-Jan-10 23:29:01

The TV/media that children are exposed to also needs to be addressed. Eastenders for (example)is on well before the watershed, even at christmas it's on at a really early time in the earshot of children and with content that is less then child friendly. The story lines of many of the soaps are not aimed at children (paedaphilia/rape/murder etc) yet are broadcast on prime time TV before the watershed. If we wish to preserve our little one's childhood then this needs to be addressed. It should be in conjunction with the stores not selling sexualised products aimed at children, they should not be exposed to this content on an almost daily basis aswell. Even childrens TV programmes and childrens computer games depict violence (ie, Ben 10), no, they are not shooting other people but they still contain violence.
There's a whole package of this bombarded at our children on a daily basis, if we wish to protect them and keep them as children for as long as possible then surly all of this needs to be addressed, parents/grandparents/carers/family members are responsible for the products they buy for their children, they are responsible to the exposure that their children have to adult-aimed TV programmes. The effects of this need to be explained to parents so that they can make an informed decision.

piprabbit Tue 05-Jan-10 23:56:20

My DD (now aged 6) has been expressing her inner diva for several years now, and despite my personal preferences is drawn to wearing inappropriate clothes. Given free-choice during the Christmas holidays she was wearing a bikini top with wooly tights and skirt that was too short as she'd long outgrown it.

However, she was only allowed to wear this around the house. I'd put it in a similar class as her dressing up outfits. When we leave the house, I make sure she is dressed decently and appropriately for the weather - although I may not approve of all her colour combinations and layering choices.

As the adult it is my job to choose the clothes she has in her wardrobe and to dress her appropriately when in public. The fact that she can make Boden look trashy with the help of some plastic beads and last year's outgrown vest is just her special talent - I must nurture her ability to dress creatively while protecting her from adult misinterpretation.

I think it's very possible to avoid 'sexy' items for girls when shopping, but it would be lovely if the buyers for big chains were encouraged to make better choices when choosing the designs they want to stock. So on the whole I'd support a campaign aimed getting rid of the most offensive items.

defineme Wed 06-Jan-10 00:10:30

I have read about a 'Pink stinks' campaign which seemed to address some of these issues-perhaps you could link up with it?

LackaDAISYcal Wed 06-Jan-10 00:15:22

Will definately add my name to this campaign. As the mum of a toddler girl; I hate with a vengeance some of the slogan stuff that is out there, and am dreading when she starts school and bowing to all the peer pressure, given the state of many of the girls I see going through the school gate on non uniform days.

Am horrified at the baby high heels though, truly horrified!

CarmenTinselPalmTreesSanDiego Wed 06-Jan-10 01:00:12

Absolutely agree with Lynette. While I don't think children should wear provocative slogans, I really don't understand the argument that children are being sexualised by clothes.

What on earth is making people see 'SEX' when they look at a child? Why are bikinis or halter necks or short skirts 'sexual'? Anyone who looks at a child's legs or shoulders and sees something sexual has a problem... not the person who dressed the child like that.

I am fairly middle class and more Monsoon than Primark. I remember a halter neck catsuit from Next that my daughter had when she was 4 or so and wore for Christmas. She looked gorgeous and elegant and got lots of compliments. I'm horrified that people might think I was somehow 'sexualising' her.

And if you live in a warmer country, what are you supposed to dress a child in?

Yes, argue clothes on practicality - high heels bad for the feet, provocative slogans - offensive and inappropriate. But claiming that sequins or short skirts or swimwear is sexy is entirely subjective and basically about snobbery imo. I think people who see it this way are a bit odd.

Surely Mumsnet has far more important things they could use their campaigning powers for.

Agree with a lot of what Lynette and Carmen is saying.

I am not against the campaign in principle. However, trade is based on supply and demand and if such items are stocked, it is because there is a demand for it. I doubt you are going to make stores stop selling a well earning item. People need to start thinking about children and fashion and what we communicate through the way we dress, and how others are perceived through dress.

Ultimately you need to ban Disney. Disney with it super slim princesses with tiaras and buxom yet slender bodies, tripping around on high heals, wearing nothing but pink and lilac. Promote Wendy from Bob the builder, and get rid of that ridiculous hannamontana-- and in fact, scrap the Disney Channel. hmm

Bonsoir Wed 06-Jan-10 08:30:29

While I think that sexualised clothing for small children exists and is awful, I agree with LynetteScavo and others that this is fundamentally a class/taste issue. If you have solid middle-class tastes and a middle-class wallet, you just don't see or find this type of clothing either on the shelves of the retailers you frequent or among your child's peers.

But aren't most issues on Mumsnet class issues?

ronshar Wed 06-Jan-10 08:43:51

My DD2 is now 5. She would only wear high heals, make up and very little clothing if I gave her the chance.
However I do not.
The person who said that their 6 year old has a poster of girls aloud scantily clad up on her wall and was sad by that I can only say to her. "Who put the damn thing up on hte wall in the first place?" Did your 6 year old get the blu tac and climb up and stick it there?
At which point do we as parents give up our parental responsibilities?
Is it at the first sign of resisitance? If so then we are going to raise children who have no boundaries and we deserve the teenagers/young adults we get!

I agree that some awareness needs to be raised but the shops will sell what people will buy.
The supermarkets have so much power now. They dont give a crap about anything other than their profit margin.

LauraIngallsWilder Wed 06-Jan-10 09:16:59

I am for any campaign that at least raises the issues due to with premature sexualising of girls or boys

Gets my vote

moondog Wed 06-Jan-10 09:18:40

Quite Ronshar.

I agree that there are issues more worthy of campaign than this - Sainsbury's selection of bibs just isn't something I can feel angry about.

I just cannot agree that a strappy vest is in any way sexual.

I mean, I hate slogans on clothes like 'born naughty 'little devil' and so on, I also hate character clothing (in the main - most of it just looks horrid) so I don't buy those things. Choice lies with the parents.

FunnyLittleFrog Wed 06-Jan-10 09:48:33

Agree with others who have said this campaign has a whiff of DM moral panic about it.

The whole premise of 'Let Girls be Girls' and avoid the premature sexualisation of children suggests that the sexualisation of older girls and women is just fine.

ShinyAndNew Wed 06-Jan-10 10:05:55

Ronshar, yes she did get the blu tack and stick up there herself. I have no idea who bought her the magazine, my mum I expect.

I could take it down and bin it, but she still knows who Girls Aloud are. She stills them on the tv all the time. Her friends still talk about them and pretend to be them. She is Cheryl Cole obviously.

She has no Playboy clothes, inappropriate clothing or high heels. She has 'play' make up that she can wear in the house, but it is not applied daily or in adult way.

She was bought a Bratz doll by a family member, but doesn't play with it. She doesn't play with any dolls.

I cannot ban all tv and contact with friends can I?

MrsWeasley Wed 06-Jan-10 11:01:55

Excellent campaign. Thank you!

sykes Wed 06-Jan-10 11:04:11

Well I'd take it down. My girls have pictures of dogs, kittens and ponies. My younger one, I'm sure, would happily go down the route of pop stars and inappropriate clothing but she won't because I won't let her. Equally, I wouldn't let my children watch soap operas or the equivalent children's TV.
You don't have to be middle class to avoid buying or watching tat. That's a ludicrous and incredibly patronising assumption.

zazizoma Wed 06-Jan-10 11:12:06

Tossing my hat into the ring here, I'm in the camp that believes the intent behind this campaign is admirable, but the focus is confused and the goal unclear.

As has been mentioned before, you don't see this crap in the middle class retail stores; I suspect they wouldn't sell. I remember receiving an apology from Johnny himself a few years back for including a boys shirt with a gun image in a spring catalog.

And yes, one can to a very large degree shield dc from the rampant sex/violence imagery, signals, mixed messages by not buying the crap, tossing out the tv, and controlling what comes into your home. This goes against the flow, which may not be easy for some people, but if you aren't going to parent your children, who is?

A more useful focus for this campaign, perhaps, would be tackling the deluge of exposure to sex and violence that children get in the print and media. Didn't it used to be that anything slightly racy would only be aired after dc were supposed to be in bed?

I'm still floored by the naked girls in mainstream media. When I was growing up, it used to be the Sears underwear ads that got people all hot and bothered.

I think the world of communication has simply changed drastically, and therefore some drastic action needs to be taken to protect children.

hobbgoblin Wed 06-Jan-10 11:28:10

Though I support such a campaign, I feel it is unfair to target retailers specifically when they seem to be a reflection of their target markets.

For many, perhaps less well read or questioning, hmm female sexuality is an important part of securing one's future as early as possible by attracting a man to provide for you. To such a person, early signs of sexuality is quite possibly a bonus. Don't the Asda's of our consumer market simply cater for this?

We need to change our sense of equality through schools education and workplace changes and childcare reforms so that it actually means something, otherwise grabbing a man by looking quite sexy at age 14 is a legitimate and sensible move for many.

I know I'veworded this post a bit crappily but hope you get what I mean, the children are off school and YELLING!

Tortington Wed 06-Jan-10 11:40:20

i have to say, in defense of shoezone, that they were practically the only place my daughter could get shoes with little or no heel as she has large feet.

i think the premis tackling 'babe' as a logo on the arse of tracksuit bottoms for 8 year olds 0 or something similar - is great.

i agree with hobbgoblins statement regarding education/lack of opportunity - this education has to come from the parents - who themselves in turn need educating - yes indeedy - we are back to the old parenting classes.

back to the old 'change the culture of society' through educating the parents.

however i think part of that culture is to make a stance against this mass consumerism that makes it ok to sexualise young girls.

as is with anything - it needs to start somewhere - and good for MNHQ for starting it somewhere.

as is with the change in smoking culture - and the change in breastfeeding culture - for the working classes/underclass - whilst i think that we would all agree that education, education, education, is the key - anything that makes a start on saying "look society this is just wrong" is a good thing.

better to do something and start somewhere than to bitch about how it should be done better by someone else ( ie. govt) which is unlikley to happen in the medium term. so yes i fully support this start on an issue that needs addressing by someone.

Cadmum Wed 06-Jan-10 11:42:04

I feel as though dh and I have been waging this battle in our house since dd1 was born. There have been many gifts (from inappropriate clothing to make-up) offered to both of our dds that we have not allowed them to have.

(We have also refused to allow the dss to have toys or clothing that we deem inappropriate. I won't tolerate weapons that exist only to kill humans any more than I will tolerate items that sexualise girls.)

We don't open birthday gifts in front of the party guests on the off chance that it might cause embarrassment but we talk as a family about how or why certain gifts might not be appropriate and we don't keep them in our house.

I am the kind of parent that would take down a poster of Girls Aloud from my daughter's room... I'm the mum; it's my job.

Dh and I have opted not to have cable television and to set limits on the dvds that our children watch.

I have only recently come to realise that we are not considered to be mainstream parents because our children don't own Nintendo DSs, sexy clothing, fancy mobile phones... They are encouraged to behave in a manner in which they can take pride. As a result, they can have articulate and interesting conversations about things beyond the latest television programs and which celebrity is sleeping with which rock star. Incidentally, they are not considered outcasts among their peers; they are outrageously popular and their friends' parents gush about how lovely it is to have them 'round.

I have gone off topic but in an attempt to illustrate that I think this comes down to parenting.

I agree that something needs to change if we don't want to live in a country where girls are only valued for their bodies and boys stab each other when they cannot get along. A campaign is a fabulous idea but I would question the logic of targeting retailers and manufacturers whose only purpose is to make a profit. These products exist and continue to sell because there is a market for them.

Maybe it is time to start talking to parents about the impact that their choices have on how their children will develop into adults. Parenting is about making choices on a daily basis that will affect your children's lives. My 'campaign' would target parents of infants (who are still caught up in nappies and lack of sleep) and ask them to make simple pledge that commits them to buying only products which do not sexualise children.

<<Cadmum gets off her soapbox and grabs a hardhat...>>

Cadmum Wed 06-Jan-10 11:46:32

Xed posts with zazizoma, hobbgoblin, and Custardo...

It took me ages to type with with four dcs running round my ankles in and out of snow-gear. smile

winnie09 Wed 06-Jan-10 12:15:23

excellent campaign imho.

ShinyAndNew Wed 06-Jan-10 14:32:37

'They are encouraged to behave in a manner in which they can take pride. As a result, they can have articulate and interesting conversations about things beyond the latest television programs and which celebrity is sleeping with which rock star.' - erm so is my child hmm. I don't believe she knows much about sex let alone who is sleeping with who actually.

I have also set limits on the dvds she is to watch. She watches nothing overtly sexual or violent. Just the usual children's stuff. I could ban Girls Aloud. I could stop her watching anything about them on tv. But while her friends are still looking upto them it is not going to make the slightest bit of difference. Dd1 thought that Camp Rock was the best film ever, in the whole world, before she had seen it, because her friends told her it was.

So if her friends told that Cheryl Cole was the coolest girl, and she was skinny with long 'princess' hair and pretty, sparkly clothes, dd1 would attempt to emulate her without even seeing her.

The best popular role model I can think of for young children would Miley Cyrus, and she is hardly great is she? That's my point. Until we stop sexualising women in general and have more strong, positive, female role models in the media and less fluffy pink pop stars the attitudes and goals of growing girls are not going to change.

The merchandise they are sold is merely a symptom of the major problem.

Count me in - I frequently moan about the lack of age-appropriate clothes for my toddler girl. I'm dreading when she is old enough for Bratz and Barbie etc, hoping she bypasses that one.

I also think the early sexualisation of girls does affect the boys too and that they are encouraged to grow up too fast. It is easier to find appropriate clothes without slogans for boys but only because mine are keen on nintendo characters and such.

They grow up too fast as it is without premature sexualisation too - my 9 year old announced the other day he is "getting too old for toys" shock! Wrong...

ILoveGregoryHouse Wed 06-Jan-10 15:39:18

I'm in. I only have boys and sometimes think I would worry far far too much with girls because of this stuff - it makes me feel ill and very very angry.

There is also a lot of "labelling" on boys which many mumsnetters have brought up - cheeky/monster/messy/bad attitude type of stuff on t-shirts etc (Next were particualrly bad for this..)

Cadmum, while I largely agree with what you said, especially about parents not buying the stuff, the job of marketers is to create a "need" and then exploit it.

ronshar Wed 06-Jan-10 15:51:22

As a parent if you dont approve of something you disallow it. Especially for a 6 year old who knows no different.
I actually do ban the TV. The DC are only allowed it at the weekend and even then I know what they are watching and if I disapprove I turn it off. Any bad behaviour and the TV is the first thing lost.
My DDs are 10 & 5.

As a parent YOU are the only thing avaliable to your pre schooler as an example of how to behave. You are in charge. Your house your rules.
It is when they get older you then learn to compromise and discuss the rules. Until then, you make them stand.

zazizoma Wed 06-Jan-10 16:31:41

Shiny, I interpreted Cadmum's comments to be addressing critics who claim that dc will be ostracised socially if they are directly plugged into popular culture, rather than digs at other people's dc.

I don't think children are ostracised if they are ignorant of popular culture, but if they are somewhat familiar with current trends in music, games, tv it makes it easier for them to find cultural references with their peers.

What's with all this poster ripping down? I'm no great fan of 'La Cole' but surely you could use this as an opportunity to to open dialogue with your children about loads of issues.

"What do you like about Cheryl?" is a great place to start if you really want to talk about women's roles in society, what success means, what talent is, whether her looks are achievable etc. etc.

This thread is depressingly black and white in terms of what's good or bad. There is some amazing scholarly work on television, video games, pop, fashion etc. whatever your opinion on it.

Popular culture IS important as both a reflection of society and a catalyst. Being able to discuss it critically or to be 'media savvy' is really advantageous and teaches us a lot about our society, its politics and how marketing works. But this requires at least a passing exposure to it.

I'm always saddened by the 'no screens' snobbery. My kids have learned loads through the internet and through video games from collaborative skills to obscure bits of Japanese culture. We talk about tv, pop stars etc. and take a little time to reflect on these phenomenons. Why not?

zazizoma Wed 06-Jan-10 17:27:03

Carmen, I think what you've said is very important with regards to having conversations. My children aren't old enough for critical discussion so we are putting the whole thing off till we get to that point. And I have a hard time finding value in even a passing exposure to Peppa Pig.

dittany Wed 06-Jan-10 17:40:58

Mumsnet are saying that they are campaigning against products not just clothes that prematurely sexualise girls, so Bratz and Barbie could be included.

Barbie's history is that of being based on a German sex doll. What a great item to give to little girls to play with.

I think this is a terrific campaign.. Sign me up

LynetteScavo Wed 06-Jan-10 18:13:48

So will there be an official list of disaproved items?

zazizoma Wed 06-Jan-10 18:19:24

With this campaign targeted against sex-oriented clothing and merchandising for children, wouldn't we saying either of the following:

1) We find the stores are so full of this crap that we can't find clothing for our children.
2) We think the parents that find this sort of stuff okay and even cute don't know better and need to be saved from themselves.

How does this approach not invite an argument around "we know better than you?" And as someone pointed in a marvelous post earlier, who is to decide what is appropriate and what is not?

What about this pre-mature sexualisation in our pop culture actually affects us? What could we be asking for ourselves, rather than for the people for whom we know better?

mathanxiety Wed 06-Jan-10 18:23:00

Rigid gender roles are always demeaning to the individual, whether man or woman.

I was struck by a Simone de Beauvoir quote, related to girls' adolescence, as a very harmful time when 'girls stop being and start seeming' -- this sad transition is being foisted on girls so much earlier by all the pornified clothing and media.

I like Dont't Pimp My Kid as a slogan.

OtterInaSkoda Wed 06-Jan-10 18:35:24

Carmen you talk so much sense and I think I might love you a bit. Are you a sociologist? grin

zazi "What could we be asking ourselves" - spot on!

math the de Beauvoir quote is so apt and I couldn't agree more with it, but as Lynette asks, will there be an official list of "approved" items? Will there be MN squads patrolling the streets, measuring toddlers' skirts?

mathanxiety Wed 06-Jan-10 18:36:45

hmm at "the middle class retail stores;" Are there bouncers keeping out the great unwashed? What's stopping Zazizoma from shopping in non-middle class shops, whatever those may be?

Nobody is setting themselves up as some sort of arbiter of taste here -- this issue goes far beyond taste or lack thereof. It's about the coarsening of culture -- the sheltered DDs whose parents can afford, or who happen to like, clothes that don't advertise them as sex kittens, will be out in the world soon enough, hobnobbing with and working or going to school alongside the DDs and the DSs of parents who can't afford anything else, or who see nothing amiss with such messages about girls being broadcast by their clothing.

FunnyLittleFrog Wed 06-Jan-10 18:36:48

Yes, zazizoma, I agree. It could sound very patronising indeed.

I put this in an earlier post, but surely the issue is the sexualisation of girls and women, full stop. By using the term premature sexualisation we are saying that there is a specific age where it all of a sudden becomes acceptable to be sexualised.

mathanxiety Wed 06-Jan-10 18:44:33

I think, well I hope, this campaign will be an important part of a discussion of what is going on wrt regrettable clothing trends, maybe the barrage of sexualisation of girls in general in the media -- why should such discussions just take place at home, with parents and children battling it out on a case by case basis? You win the high heeled shoe debate and up next is the thong for the ten year old... It gets very discouraging for the parents trying to hold the line at home against the never-ending tide. Why not conduct a debate in the public arena too?

zazizoma Wed 06-Jan-10 18:45:26

I'm going on a limb here and suggesting that people who buy tart clothes for their five-year-olds do so because they like it. How does getting rid of the option to buy tart clothes for children change the attitude that it's okay, and even, as was mentioned earlier, desirable in the great race to catch a man.

Math, I agree with you about the coarsening of culture in general, but confess to not following your train of thought in your first paragraph.

FunnyLittleFrog Wed 06-Jan-10 18:52:38

"people who buy tart clothes for their five-year-olds do so because they like it".

But it all comes down to low self-esteem and the value that women place on themselves and their daughters. If a mother feels valued only for her physical or sexual appeal rather than her intelligence, skills or personality she will pass that on to her daughters by dressing them in a way she feels will gain them approval.

zazizoma Wed 06-Jan-10 19:15:08

FunnyLittleFrog, I so completely agree, just questioning the best approach to opening a dialogue across classes about sex in culture.

senua Wed 06-Jan-10 19:16:50

I agree with sentiments behind this campaign, even if we are a bit hazy about how exectly to define it. I also object to the sexualisation of all females, not just the premature sexualisation of children.

As to the strapline: in view of a recent successful campaign, what about "Rage Against The Merchandise". grin

If this leads to the destruction of those evil Bratz dolls, I'm in grin

FunnyLittleFrog Wed 06-Jan-10 19:25:17

Whatever is decided, just please don't call it 'Don't Pimp My Kid'.

mathanxiety Wed 06-Jan-10 19:30:47

I think I was puzzled by the idea that shops have demarcation lines. I know marketing puts us all in niches, though, so maybe there's a point to the idea of certain kinds of merchandise being directed at certain groups.

I believe that 'talking down' to people is better than the 'selling down' which is the result of powers-that-be putting profit above all other considerations. Consciousness-raising is important.

FaintlyMacabre Wed 06-Jan-10 20:18:19

Good idea for a campaign IMO.
I've just been sent a promotional email from Clarks with their snowboots for children advertised in it. Here.
I know that this is not sexualisation of young girls, but if you read the descriptions, all the boots except the pink ones are 'boys' boots. Are girls too busy indoors playing with their cookers/dollshouses/high heels to want to play in the snow? Also, the only 'girls' pair is by far the cheapest and therefore possibly of poorer quality or less robust than the 'boys' versions. And yes, I know that a girl could wear the 'boy' boots (I certainly would have), but many may not want to.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 06-Jan-10 21:00:06

I kind of like the idea however agree with others that these products are merely symptoms of the underlying issues.

There is evidence that sexualisation contributes to impaired
cognitive performance in late teenaged women, and related research suggests that sexually objectification can contribute to body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, low self-esteem,
depressive affect, and even physical health problems in high-school-aged girls and in young women.

Basically, it is about good old fashioned does this effectively reflect an attack on sexism? I am not sure

flashharriet Wed 06-Jan-10 22:07:47

Totally behind this campaign.

Would throw into the ring early exposure to violent computer games and pornographic images as well, a lot of which is condoned by parents. It's getting really hard to "hold the line" IME sad

yogabird Wed 06-Jan-10 22:22:12
gybegirl Wed 06-Jan-10 22:51:12

Whilst I hate said clothes and will not allow my DDs to wear them I think a more appropriate stance would be to examine the media -

If someone in a music video is parading around in their knickers like a pole dancer then this is not appropriate for daytime TV.

If someone on the cover of a magazine is wearing their underwear and pouting provocatively then it should be on the top shelf.

The TV 9pm watershed should be strengthened (or even just adhered to).

For those who say just turn off the TV. I do but...

We went to a christmas party the other evening and one of the parents put on the X Factor. I was the only mum (of kids ranging from 8 to 1) to bring my girls out of the room. Mine are 3 and 1 and have only ever watched Cbeebies of U cert DVDs. I wouldn't have minded her listening to people sing, but I had no idea what comments would be made or, more importantly, what trailers for other programmes would be shown. They have no idea yet that people even shout at each other and I don't expect a TV show to inform them of this at such early ages.

The press and TV have guidelines to follow. You're not just trying to change people's taste!

SuiGeneris Wed 06-Jan-10 22:54:41

Excellent idea- will definitely support both the campaign against overt sexualisation (strappy tops, shoes with heels, playboy-branded stuff aimed at <18s) and the extreme gender stereotyping. It is difficult even to buy newborn clothes that are neither pink nor blue and, as a previous poster said, it is also very difficult to find good quality pleasant clothes for girls that are not frilly/pink/purple/glittery.

We seem to be going backwards: while in the Seventies/early Eighties it was easier to buy clothes and toys for children (not boys, not girls, children), now even toys that would naturally be gender-neutral (such as scooters, bikes, baby gyms) are coloured in lurid pink or covered with superman stickers to make them clearly "female" or "male". And clearly some people must buy them, or they would not be so widespread.

An interesting book on the subject is this; the updated version of which argues that children, particularly girls, growing up in the Noughties are subject to worse and earlier gender stereotyping than their mothers and grandmothers because the former, having grown up in the relatively unrestricting 70/80s do not feel they have to battle against stereotypes as much. The very fact that this campaign has been proposed and seems to have support shows not all of us feel that way though!

Thanks Otter. Not a sociologist though, a bit of everything

Could someone tell me what is wrong with children wearing 'strappy' tops? Are shoulders taboo or something?

TwoIfBySea Thu 07-Jan-10 01:06:26

Great idea, it is part of the reason I'm so glad to have boys - so much of the girls' clothes are so tarty. That sounds old fashioned but hot pants and crop tops with "sexy" written on them, for little ones it should be a no-no!

Peaceflower Thu 07-Jan-10 09:13:33

This has to be the campaign of the year for me. My 12 year old dd has for the last 2 years struggled to dress to fit in with her peers. They have mostly fallen in with the "teen porn" style.

She was wearing girls' clothing until at the age of 10 there was very little for her. Try looking for a normal top/trousers/skirt without any rips, laces, logo or other such gimmicks.

My dd is 12 and she wants clothes for her, not an older teen.

frankie3 Thu 07-Jan-10 09:35:21

A lot of the reason why toys and clothes are very pink or blue is so that the shops can sell more of them. Because they can't be shared or passed down to siblings or family.

I totally agree with this campaign, but also feel that it is a drop in the ocean against everything that is going on in the media. I have friends who go out to the beautician for manicures with their 6 year old dd's, and make up parties are now normal for 5 year olds upwards. We are teaching girls that this is the way to have fun.

I guess the whole of society is changing - when I was young lots of my friends' mums were very frumpy (crimpolene dresses etc), but now everyone seems to place much more importance on image, and even the school run is a chance to dress up.

But in terms of things that I worry about, I am more worried about children being encouraged to use the internet from a young age - my ds has accidently seen some dodgy stuff on utube, even with a parental filter. And is it me, but why are people injuring themselves, animals shagging etc so popular to look at??

GrimmaTheNome Thu 07-Jan-10 10:20:53

Image has always mattered to women. When I was a little girl, my mum's Crimpelene trouser suit was fashionable. Perms and 'sets' at the hairdresser were an important part of life - they weren't frumpy then, thats our retrospectroscope at work.

What has changed is exactly what the image should consist of.

I have no problem with DD watching animals shagging ... so long as its Autumnwatch or David Attenbrough productions grin - some sex and violence is entirely natural and appropriate.

senua Thu 07-Jan-10 11:01:30

I disagree Grimma. Image has always mattered to some_ women but now it is being thrust down the throat of all women. Not everyone had perms and sets back then - my mum and her mates never did.

There is a generational change going on. My mum was born in the 1920s. When she was young she couldn't wait until she was an adult and all Grown Up with a twinset and pearls. Just as she was about to hit her moment of glory, teenagers were invented and she was the wrong age yet again.sad Ever since then it has been fashionable to look like a teenager and, now, it is fashionable to behave like a teenager too. It is not surprising that pre-teens want to ape teenagers when they see the grown-ups doing it (I know many kidults / Bridget-Jones-alikes). They need better role models.

As well as waging war against merchandise, what about TV which has a huge influence. I'm thinking of programmes like 90210, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl etc which portray 'teens' (actually actors in their twenties!) as super-glossy, super-supergroomed, bitchy size-zero nymphomaniacs. DD has one of these programmes on ATM - what on earth are they doing broadcasting stuff like this at 10 o'clock in the morning!?

LynetteScavo Thu 07-Jan-10 11:07:59

Quite a few issues have been bought up here, apart from the premature sexualising of children.

So, keeping to the procucts that sexualise it just clothing that would be focused on, or would it stretch to other products? And if so, could I have some examples of what products people feel sexualise children.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 07-Jan-10 11:40:30

Image still only matters to some women - I am living proof grin

Possibly related I've never even heard of the programs you mention. Curious why you're letting your DD watch them at 10 in the morning?

Totally agree (mentioned it myself) that the extension of 'teenage' is a bad bad thing, and as you say, in both directions.

senua Thu 07-Jan-10 11:45:38

It's on as 'background' whilst she is revising. I could never concentrate with TV on, but this multi-media generation is different (apparentlyhmm).

wilbur Thu 07-Jan-10 11:54:38

Haven't had time to read all of the above but agree in principle with the campaign, but for both sexes. I have 2 ds and 1 dd and I get v depressed by the differences in what they receive for their birthdays and so on. I have just given my neice an alien maker kit for her b'day but of course the box features 2 boys playing with it, why not a boy and a girl? Or will boys not play with anything seen as remotely associated with girls? I would like advertising of toys to go back to looking like this. I adore this image, it remind me of my own childhood, not least because the little girl is the spitting image of my then best friend who had two brothers and was the coolest girl around.

fortyplus Thu 07-Jan-10 12:00:40

Time to add hair gel to the list? wink -able-to?msgid=18083330

fortyplus Thu 07-Jan-10 12:01:01
hermionegrangerat34 Thu 07-Jan-10 13:30:37

Completely agree with this campaign. I'd quite like to add boys in too - I find it v.hard to find boys clothes without violent imagery (evne if its just ben10 - but what happened to nice, normal, plain dungarees?!). But having just had a girl it drives me round the bend that everything is covered in pink frills and sequins - even jeans! - and i havent' even got to the sexy stuff yet. Focusing on the sexy stuff is probably the main focus for a campaign though as so many people seem to like pink frills. Hopefully it will have a knock on effect on kids clothes in general.
I rather like 'don't pimp my kid'.... but 'let girls be girls' would be easier for shops to sign up to, have as a logo on their catalogues, etc.

What about children being exposed to sexual images in places like their local grocery stores. I think its awful that my daughter can look at semi pornographic images on the magazine racks. I know they are on the top shelf but she can look up and frequently does.

franch Thu 07-Jan-10 15:43:07

Count me in. And I agree heartily with you paula. Many tabloids have semi-pornographic images on their front pages and are not on the top shelf.

mathanxiety Thu 07-Jan-10 15:51:44

Paula and Franch, this is bad for boys too.

Of course it is. I want to keep my children as innocent as possible for as long as possible. I also don't want my son growing up thinking that women are objects.

Malene Thu 07-Jan-10 15:55:11

I think this is an excellent idea. I am normally very careful about taking part in the various discussions on mumsnet as I run KSBKids or Kids Should Be Kids". However in support of this campaign we have set up a page explaining the campaign outline and linking straight to this discission. You have our full support. Happy New Year Malene

GrimmaTheNome Thu 07-Jan-10 16:07:30

Proof it can be done... just wish you stocked sweaters too!(still in search of nice woolly for DD grin)

I'm sorry, I love you, Mumsnet but I do feel this is about snobbery, classism, fashion tastes and I hate to say it, pandering to advertisers.

Boden, one of your biggest advertisers and for better or worse, practically synonymous with Mumsnet, are all about the traditional clothes. And now KSBKids are using it as a platform to sell their clothes

Yes, slogans are provocative, yes padded bras are inappropriate, yes, high heels are bad for children's feet. I'll concede that. But no-one has actually explained how 'strappy tops' (vest tops?), 'miniskirts' (skirts!) or things with 'laces and rips' are actually pornographic or sexual and not just NOT TO YOUR TASTE.

This is ALLLLL about the headlines for the Mumsnet machine. Usually, I'm pretty proud of Mumsnet. MrsBaldwin's work was amazing this week and your work on miscarriage is vital, but this smacks of outrage and is just a media war. It's not actually going to change anything other than win a few headlines for MN and polarise people's opinions on MN.

LynetteScavo Thu 07-Jan-10 17:13:17

Malene...that is just blatent advertising.

Why would running that website stop you participating in MN discusions? hmm

OtterInaSkoda Thu 07-Jan-10 17:53:52

Absobleedinglutely Carmen.

Although imo padded bras are fine. If it's cold and your nipples are standing to attention a padded bra is more demure than an unpadded one. I appreciate I'm going off on a tangent here, mind grin

mathanxiety Thu 07-Jan-10 17:55:21

I think the strappy tops are tops for little girls with adjustable straps, like bra straps, not vest tops, which are not adjustable. They manage to look flimsy and adult at the same time. Clothes with laces and rips show skin underneath and make the wearer look as if she has been attacked by someone or someone's pet, (in the case of the rips) or that she is wearing rags and doesn't care, and no-one else cares enough about her to make sure her clothes are in good condition. The girl who wears such clothing presents herself as someone who is fending for herself, puts herself in dangerous situations or has been in a dangerous situation -- is unprotected and uncared for, therefore ripe for the plucking. The laces are reminiscent of bodice ripping, often show skin underneath, and are a style belonging to soft porn, imho, rather than practical childhood adventures.

If a campaign raises the issue of what's available out there for girls to wear, and what the clothing choices are broadcasting about our DDs to the public at large, and what this may be doing to them, to how they see themselves, and the boys they associate with, and how they see the girls, then it will have achieved a lot. A campaign can't realistically hope to achieve more than make people think and ask questions.

OtterInaSkoda Thu 07-Jan-10 18:41:24

Good grief.

Or alternatively, straps are adjustable because the proportion of a child's shoulders/chest region vary. Clothes have laces because they're expressing individuality through decoration (as with ribbons in the hair) or indicating chosen affiliation to a social group (goth, boho, whatever).

Rips in clothes might be a signifier that the child likes playing outside, is not conforming to ideals or femining standards of perfection.

Basically, you're reading into it what you want.

And you choose to read porn into them.


femining=feminine, obv.

LynetteScavo Thu 07-Jan-10 18:55:17 have given this subject a lot of thought, haven't you.

FunnyLittleFrog Thu 07-Jan-10 19:01:19

Carmen - spot on.

franch Thu 07-Jan-10 19:18:03

mathanxiety, while I think we're more or less on the same side, you risk losing the argument by taking it too far.

I remain solidly behind the campaign against pole dancing, sexual slogans etc, but agree that strappy tops etc are just a matter of taste.

Let's stick to the core argument (well expressed in the MN statement) rather than veering off track and losing everyone along the way.

MegBusset Thu 07-Jan-10 19:39:36

Wow so a whole campaign based on whether someone's straps are adjustable or not hmm

Carmen has put it much better than me so I will just say I agree with everything she has written.

franch Thu 07-Jan-10 19:49:59

Let's forget straps and get back to pole dancing and Playboy ...

FunnyLittleFrog Thu 07-Jan-10 19:52:32

Apart from the examples in the links in the OP I have never actually seen high heels for babies, items of clothing with sexual slogans or pole dancing kits. I don't think they sell them in most high street shops. In cases where shops have stocked this stuff (like the Woolworths Playboy bedding) it has quickly been brought to the attention of the media and been taken off the shelves. So is a campaign actually needed?

I have had a look on Next, ASDA and Matalan websites and while there is a lot of pink and a lot of it isn't to my taste, I wouldn't say any of it is actually sexualising young girls.

So is this a campaign for campaign's sake - one that will get MN in the papers - or a campaign that is actually necessary?

I'd much rather see a MN campaign to get porn off newsagents' shelves.

franch Thu 07-Jan-10 19:57:16

Well, I'm definitely with you on the porn, FLF

GreensElves Thu 07-Jan-10 20:03:51

how about "let girls be children"?

am wholeheartedly in support of campaign

mathanxiety Thu 07-Jan-10 20:32:12

True enough, everyone.

Having lived in a place where summers tend to be very hot, I don't really think it's worth making much of a fuss about girls' tops -- slogans are a different matter though. Btw, I would tend to associate high heels for little girls with the US hispanic community, where ultra frou frou styles are very popular for girls in the barrios, and gender roles tend to be quite rigid, for recent arrivals to the US anyway. I personally think if children weren't exposed to slutty styles of dress and deportment on tv they probably wouldn't come up with ideas of their own about wearing the kind of clothing being discussed here.

LynetteScavo Thu 07-Jan-10 20:33:22

Could somebody please post a link or two to the products we are talking about, from main stream, High St stores.

I need to be totally clear, and now feel like I'm being a bit thick.

franch Thu 07-Jan-10 20:38:22

There are links in the outline Justine linked to, Lynette. And the Playboy stuff is everywhere, marketed in children's departments

mummyontherun Thu 07-Jan-10 20:46:38

I would sign up to a campaign like this - and I would also put in a plea for people to take care about the gender of kids and not just assume that all "non-pinked out" kids must be boys! My little girl is always being taken for a boy and I am worried for her.

franch Thu 07-Jan-10 21:03:41

Agree, MOTR - a woman in a shop only just stopped short of putting me right when I insisted DD2 (in brown trousers) was a girl ...

coffeeaddict Thu 07-Jan-10 22:02:35

I would sign up. Totally agree. And I think it should extend to boys too. Let kids be kids.

It's a good general slogan which could be used to highlight different issues over time.

MegBusset Thu 07-Jan-10 22:41:56

MOTR -- my DS1 was mistaken for a girl when dressed all in blue, wearing a hat with a football motif on it! So I don't think clothing colour is always entirely to blame...

differentID Thu 07-Jan-10 22:47:18

On the high heels for girls issue- it's not a new phenomenon. I have a CD with copies of old catalogues on it. Don't ask me why!

There is a "copy" of the 1974 John Noble catalogue on it, and many of the girls shoe styles have a heel. Some of which I would consider to be quite high.

The fashion that many people seem to be claiming was more unisex? Highly gender specific. The first trousers in the girls' section doesn't show up until the 7th page after pages of very short dresses, many in pink, or floral patterns or if they weren't either, had a lace trim to them.

In the girls nightwear section there is a very short babydoll nightie and pants set. The nightie is joined at the bust area by a single ribbon tie and the girl wearing it is holding one side so you can see the pants underneath- how much more sexualised can that be? But was it seen as such in the 70's?

mamas12 Fri 08-Jan-10 00:23:45

I'd definitely put my name to this.
It is appalling and I would also say it's not just for the girls as we need to educate our boys too.

Totaly agree with this campaign. Also have Dd 6 and Ds 3 so would also love toys to be less gender segregated.

Come the warmer weather, watch girl's frocks (and other clothes).

Toddlers are dressed in long, retro dresses - totally impractical for crawling. As they get older, the dresses and skirts get shorter.

Teen clothes - well, fair enough, it's the age of experimentation, rebellion, and growing sexual awareness.

And then, as the women develop a better sense of self, clothes get longer again, and there is more choice whether and how to display oneself.

But at primary school age the clothes are often a parody of adult 'on display' clothes - particularly party clothes and summer wear. Strappy floaty tops, the sort a woman might wear to enhance her breasts without actually exposing them, and skirts so short that they can't run and climb without exposing their underwear. Before they're in their teens the shortness of T-shirts encourages them to expose their tummies.

And, come to think of it, it's not just girls' stuff. Boys' stuff suffers from something similar, but in the opposite direction - violence.

9yo ds1 needs new pjs, the soft jersey sort. Can I find any without aggressive images or frightening pictures? Certainly not in any of the cheaper places, such as supermarkets. Eventually I found some in John Lewis, at about twice the price of the pjs in Tesco. He would love to wear Thomas or Mr Men pjs, but they're not considered appropriate any more at his age! OK, fair enough, market forces etc, but what about plain? Even finding him plain shirts and sweaters, without jagged graphics, or ugly faces, or violent film links has been hard work.

Miggsie Fri 08-Jan-10 10:51:12

I am currently reading DD the "Famous Five", the old reproductions of the original illustration.

You only have to look at these pictures or even the old Ladybird "Peter and Jane" from the 70's to see how far boy and girl clothes have veered into stark gender division in these supposedly enlightened times.
Girls and boys wearing trousers and tops, all colours, not just pink and blue...
Yes, can we have a baby clothes campaign that is "not just pink and blue"?

Can you imagine the Famous Five now "I can't climb down that secret tunnel Julian, I'll get diry and my high heels won't do. Also, George, you really need to straighten your hair"
Of course Julian won't answer as he's listening to his iPod and Dick is on his DS.

But the descriptions of the children's clothes "jeans and jerseys" "macs and wellingtons". "only need a couple of shirts"...

The famous five is slagged off for gender stereoptypes but compared to today's children and their "looks" obsession, they seem to have a whale of a time.

elportodelgato Fri 08-Jan-10 13:44:34

I would sign up too - great idea. My DD is only 19 mo and I am looking forward with dread to dealing with these issues when she gets to around school age. Already I've noticed that most of the little girls at her nursery come dressed in top to toe pink every day. SO not practical for getting dirty, experimenting with stuff, climbing, being physical etc. It's depressing and I think it can have the effect of limitng their expectations and horizons at a very young age.

I do think it's relevant to boys too though - the clothes for boys seem to feature a worrying amount of camoflage - as if we need to encourage young men to be more aggressive and warlike! I also think it is important for both genders to think about how they perceive the other. If little boys see little girls being sexualised from such a young age, is it any wonder that they then go on to be young men who treat them as sexual objects and not as human beings?

edam Fri 08-Jan-10 15:32:34

Beta have offered MNers a poster site for free, to say 'sorry' for all the slagging off working mothers stuff. Anyone want to think of a slogan for this campaign? Apparently we've got until 5pm...

Jackstini Fri 08-Jan-10 15:59:42

I still think let Kids be kids is good.
Or maybe something about enjoying childhood - it's too precious to miss?
Surely MN has some good ad people?

Rhubarb Fri 08-Jan-10 16:08:31

So do we have details of when this campaign will surface?

Can we chain ourselves to stores who refuse to sign up?

Can I be the first to handcuff myself naked? Can I? Can I?

I shall ironically call for the desexualisation of our children by handcuffing myself in the buff, tits out an' all. Very post-modern.

I have always wanted to do this though, not to the point where it's become a sexual fantasy though, obviously. Just one of those things like chaining myself to the Houses of Parliament and having to be freed by the firemen.

Actually there is a bondage thing going on there isn't there?

How inappropriate for this thread. Very sorry. Will get my coat now.

Miggsie, I think I'd rather have my kids playing on their DS than rowing boats to condemned buildings in order to apprehend criminals!

shazzg Fri 08-Jan-10 20:25:42

brilliant campaign hurrah.have been banging on about sexualization of our irls for bloomin ages - see www.object for more info - I reguarly turn the sport over and object to play boy stuff in toy shops.It's a joke.

natapillar Fri 08-Jan-10 22:16:19

I have 3 DDs aged 9 yrs,7yrs and 15months. For christmas my youngest got the usual baby/toddler clthes which are great. My 9 yr old got a very short skirt,a pair of leggings and a tight fitting top. she now says ''mum don't u think i look like lady gaga?'' !! Really not the kinda person i want my 9yr old to aspire to be. Still,its gotta be better than Jordan!

Too many young girls are being made to look older and i hate that. its cute that girls want to look like their mums or fave celebs,but there is a line that needs not be crossed.
and i absolutely hate the play-boy items!!

NotAnOtter Fri 08-Jan-10 22:19:39

whilst i agree with Swedes i would add that whilst people continue to buy this stuff -it will continue to be produced

we may have to force the issue in order to educate the ignorant

i am IN

Steery Fri 08-Jan-10 23:06:11

As a mother of a much loved daughter, I would like to add my support. I think that today there is too much pressure for girls to grow up too quickly. Let them grow up at their own pace. There is time enough for sex at a later time. I just want my daughter to think in terms of innocent princesses as long as possible.

SpeedyGonzalez Fri 08-Jan-10 23:33:25

Great idea, well done MN Towers. Also as the mother of a young boy I am deeply concerned about the messages that my son will pick up about girls and women and what our society regards as normal and acceptable images of what it is to be female. Although it is girls that are being sexualised by these, tacky, horrible products, it is an issue that affects all children.

Children in our society are exposed to an excess of information about sexuality at an age where they simply do not have the cognitive, emotional, hormonal or experiential faculties to process it effectively. The fact that some people will pay money for these products (and therefore there is seen to be a business model in them) is not sufficient justification for manufacturing and selling them. We do not have to operate by the lowest common denominator, which says that making money rules all our thinking. Sexualising children is not a normal or acceptable way for a society to function, and we are damaging our children in the process.

solo Sat 09-Jan-10 02:34:40

See, I think it's down to parents to not buy it/allow their Dd's to wear this stuff.

Great idea - I would fully support this.

I haven't read all the comments so apologies if I am going over old ground here. However tactically I would focus on the "clearly unacceptable" like poll dancing kits and sexulalised styles and sloguns for girls clothing rather than kicking off your statements with the baby heels thing. The latter seemed just like a piece of throwaway daftness to me.

Am excited though!

Heated Sat 09-Jan-10 12:28:29

Am going to go back and read all the comments, but this is an excellent campaign. I'd support it in the hope of at least making producers and designers of children's clothes & toys aware of a significant public dissatisfaction.

And the premature sexualisation and gender stereotyping starts very early.

Am always very irritated by the narrow gender coding of toys in ELC which are usually pink nurturing/ shopping/ passive toys presumably for girls and exciting action-toys in blue for boys.

Wanted to buy a non-pink, non-frilly bike without impractical white wheels or a doll-seat(fgs) for 3yr old dd and couldn't find one. Got excellent advice from MN but had to spend twice the money to get it.

And clothes! I do not want to dress my 3 yr old dd provocatively or as a pop-star likethis or, for that matter, my 5 yr old ds like a 16 year old, yet 3-16yrs or 5-16yrs is often the norm for children's clothing ranges.

I do see it as part of an insidious message: girls are meant to be sexually attractive and also passive/nurturing and boys active and aggressive.

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 09-Jan-10 15:47:35

Hey, solo! It's the new me - we met at the Nintendo thingy in London last pregnant - does that give you a clue? grin

solo Sat 09-Jan-10 16:53:45

Hello Speedy! why the namechange? I know who you are!!! how's it going?grin

solo Sat 09-Jan-10 16:55:59

That seems very strange saying hello Speedy...Speedy was my nickname as a young(er) woman!!! due to my bike riding I'll hasten to add!

KimiLovesHerFamily Sat 09-Jan-10 16:59:47

I think this is just wonderful

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 09-Jan-10 18:35:33

How funny we share a nickname! Can't post for long, but I decided to change as I've got caught up in one hairy debate too many and decided to turn over a new leaf. How's you? - I'm well, btw.


wukter Sat 09-Jan-10 18:41:49

The inappropriate products are a symptom, not the problem itself. The real problem is the sexualisation and coarsening of culture as a whole. How can you protect your kids from that? Sure, you can ban telly at home, but they'll hear it all in the playground anyway.

Despite how Mary Whitehouse-ish I am being, I would like to see watersheds adhered to on tv.
Tit mags on the high shelves.
Decorum (cringey word) exercised on front pages of newspapers.

Basically I want to return to the past grin.

Sorry if I'm going over old ground.

Pennies Sat 09-Jan-10 19:22:22

Great idea. Hate all this stuff in the shops and as the DDs get older the pester power will increase. Not looking forward to that at all, so anything that avoids that AND helps to prolongs their innocence and childhood is a good thing IMO.

reikizen Sat 09-Jan-10 20:06:53

count me in grin thanks

solo Sat 09-Jan-10 20:31:15

Speedy, I'm glad you are good. How's the pg going? how far now?
My ME is bad atm, but I'm trying to be more optimistic about everyting

SpeedyGonzalez Sat 09-Jan-10 20:36:47

Ohh, I didn't realise you had ME, that's awful. Really sorry to hear that. How long have you had it for?

I am about 6 months' preg now, still managing to do most things such as touch my toes (well, if I squat I can reach them grin). This preg is great, much easier than the first - which was pretty easy as well, except for the odd hiccup. I feel incredibly lucky at the mo (apart from the fact that I have no money!).

solo Sat 09-Jan-10 22:35:58

I've had it 10 years Speedy.

Glad pg is good. Welcome to my club of no dosh grin tis crapola but you certainly appreciate things more. I'm sitting at home here in a jumper, cardi and beeny hat of Ds's. I bought some babygrow style pj's for Dd yesterday as she gets really warm in bed, throws off her bed clothes and then freezes. Trouble is, they are a tad short(she's only just 3 and they are 3-4yrs, so I'm butchering old ones and lengthening the new ones. Look Ok too!grin

StewieGriffinsMom Sun 10-Jan-10 09:00:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

duchesse Sun 10-Jan-10 09:15:00

As a mother of three daughters I'd be delighted not to have to trawl through mountains of hooker tat in the high street stores in order to find them stuff to wear that doesn't make them dangerous. It was worse about 5-6 years ago when my older daughters were 6 and 8. There seems to be a lot more nice little girls' stuff out there now.

I'd go along with any such campaign.

duchesse Sun 10-Jan-10 09:44:17

In fairness what irks me the most about it having to trawl through piles of crappy tat to find things that don't repel me. I spent about 1/2 longer in Next looking for two outfits for my 1 month old that weren't shell pink (and found one in blue and white and one in dark dark fuschia and burgundy). I found some bibs that were inoffensive, unisex and without slogans in Sainsburys. I found ditto in Tesco. I found some in Jojo Maman Bebe (she's a mega dribbler, I've since had to buy a dozen more). The point is, I had to actively search for these things- it took me more effort and more time. People with less of an axe to grind might not want to spend so much time, buy the inappropriate stuff and thereby end up unwittingly end up colluding with the store's buyers. So perpetuating their belief that its what's people want, when in fact they're maybe just not as militant as some of us.

duchesse Sun 10-Jan-10 10:04:43

There's a MN user with a name that would be excellent: My Child's a Child. non-gender specific, still fairly snappy, not too "trendy" sounding.

sockmonkey Sun 10-Jan-10 10:24:35

Oooh. Put my name down please!
I'm expecting my first girl and am dreading the clothes shopping as she grows.
I'm not a massive pink fan, but there seems to be little choice about that, but as she gets older would like to have modest age appropriate stuff.
Also clothes she can actually play in. I often feel sorry for girls, especially at soft play places, little denim skirts etc are not the easiest things to climb/jump around in.

babymutha Sun 10-Jan-10 13:17:09

Could this go further and ask for a consideration of children in the over sexualisation of public space??
I AM SICK TO DEATH of seeing soft porn images of women every time I leave the house. BC it was a mild annoyance now it is something my 2year old DD is subjected to every time we leave the house (we live in London)-either on buses or hoardings or in lads mags when we buy milk in the local shop. I have a choice about what clothes, toys etc I buy for DD but I have no choice about the 100 foot hoarding of an air-brushed model in her underwear or a splayed celebrity on the front cover of nuts. How many of these images will she see before she even starts school!

CiderIUpAndSetIFree Sun 10-Jan-10 13:35:16

Yes, the whole spangly princess/porn star pre-teen culture is depressing and insidious imo.

Apologies if this has been linked to before, but the Adams 'Tainted' range aimed at 2-11 year olds made me wince.
Tainted girls

It's not so much the clothes themselves - they're rock-chickish rather than princessy, but the 'Tainted' name and the attitudinal styling of the young models just made my toes curl.

donnie Sun 10-Jan-10 14:26:03

agree. Children are children - not whores in the making.That 'tainted' range....why would a parent want their little girl to be associated with the notion of being tainted?

MuchaFriki Sun 10-Jan-10 22:31:14

I am also in the Something Must Be Done, But Probably Not This camp, for all of these reasons:

There's no action plan yet in the campaign proposal. You say "a Mumsnet campaign". Does this mean "the community" will have the chance to sign a petition, send a form letter to a retailer and a link to their Facebook friends? Given the huge community you have already have here, so much more can be done.

In any MN campaign it would help to have practical actions that supporters can sign up to. Quick simple things we can do, that in doing, also encourage others to get involved. There were some fun suggestions on the OOA bad advertising thread, like meeting up to dump dirty nappies in the ad agency's offices. Flash mobs of sarcastic mums can figure out how to stay on the right side of the law and also have fun.

But right now the campaign message is negative - "stop doing X". More positive campaign would help - "encourage doing Y" - . Positive campaign will support morale of people involved in it; a negative one will attract flames and put people off.

A positive campaign message would help focus on the real goals. With a negative message you risk negative coverage, attracting Mary Whitehouse type sympathisers, encourage people to yell at each other on the internet even more, just what the advertisers would like. And if you can't think up practical actions for supporters of your campaign, are you doing any good, or just helping to get people worked up?

Retailers need a business benefit to change their practises. It's easier to sell a carrot than a stick. Persuade just one big chain to present clothes and toys in one space with no gendered boundaries, more neutral colours, etc, and that would draw a lot of mums there and get the other stores' marketing people worried. Fairtrade, organic, renewable, etc, is all very nice, but if it did not have a marketing and money benefit for stores, they would not stock that stuff.

In a couple of places the text at talks about "children" where it really means "girls". There is already an overfocus on girls. They are hassled over appearance enough, are the object of others' decisions enough. Campaigns like this are for everyone, for future society's sanity.

A couple of people pointed out Pink Stinks, trying to do very similar things. MN staff could work to promote their campaign and ask MN mums to support it. That would also show that it is about the cause, not the coverage, for MN organisers.

Okay, done for now.

natapillar Sun 10-Jan-10 23:40:55

was in asda this afternoon and went past the magazines with my 7yoDD,and there on the shelf(not even the top shelf) was a lads mag,zoo or nuts, with the image of two naked women cuddling each other!! no u could not see their nipples,but it didnt exactly leve much to the imagination.
i was shocked and quite annoyed that such an image be allowed on the lower shelf by the TV guides! my kids have to face this sort of thing EVERY day. having 3 DDs it is quite a worry. i don't like them seeing things like this. not because im a prude or some mad feminist with hairy armpits,but because it is constant sexualisation of women. we might as well all say 'oh well we have breasts that we can use to pay the bills'.
i would much rather encourage kids to see that women are not just there to be sexy.

mamaafrica Mon 11-Jan-10 10:07:34

Great idea, I like the suggestion:
Childhood for Children.
Also, too much camo print for boys, I have a ds nearly 7 and another ds nearly 5 and I've managed to resist camo style fabrics so far.
Long may it last.
Too much macho influence for boys too.

franch Mon 11-Jan-10 10:48:31

Justine, can we have some feedback on our feedback?

I think Mucha's call for an action plan is right.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Jan-10 12:36:59

Yes - sorry for delay in feedback - been a bit snowed - will have a look today...

babymutha Mon 11-Jan-10 21:58:17

Mucha - some VERY good points indeed. I'd support your call for positive action to put pressure on retailers etc rather than negative ranting (I can do that til the cows come home, but it's not going to get much done). I also agree that although this debate focuses on girls it has a HUGE effect on boys and the way they relate to girls/women so it's about children and the erosion of childhood and the way we as a society VALUE children and childhood or don't... ??

zazizoma Mon 11-Jan-10 23:12:19

David Cameron in the London Evening Standard (read it on the train today . . . ) quoted as saying "I'll Stop Shops Sexualising Children for Gain." Must be reading Mumsnet.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 12-Jan-10 00:54:11

Thanks for all the input folks. It's been top feedback, as expected.

Here are the main points that have been raised specifically about this campaign:

1. We need to define our terms a bit more
2. It's not just about girls it's about women
3. We should talk to/align with Object/pinkstinks about the good work they're doing
4. We need to address parents and the issue of why they buy this stuff as well as retailers

If we address the above our reading of this thread is that a decent majority are in favour of MN addressing this issue though there is a significant minority who think there are other, better causes (nb this campaign would by no means excludes others it's just a start) and a few who believe any type of centrally-organised campaign is, by definition, flawed.

We will move ahead and try to address the points above and draw up a letter to the retailers over the next day or two but we fully acknowledge that it may well be there is insufficient tailwind behind this particular issue to take it further than the debate on here. Either way just having the debate on here, I think, is informative, and useful.


neekynoo Tue 12-Jan-10 10:21:38

its awful. ive seen little undwired padded training bras, and thongs even. its quite sick really. but then you get the likes of katie holmes putting her child in heels. in a copycat world that is celebrity obessesed is it any wonder that our kids are being forced to dress up and grow up too soon.

headlesschicken Tue 12-Jan-10 21:13:03

This is really important I agree. It covers a lot of things - gender stereotypings that mean a girl thinks she isn't allowed to pick up anything blue, or a boy anything pink. It means buying clothes that are unisex if you want them to be (and being able to hand them down!) and to be offered more interesting colours anyway; the division into pink/blue sides of the store is a real shock first time. I don't want solider camouflage or weapon motifs (sorry Boden) on boys' clothes and I don't want pseudo sexworker clothes for girls - nor overgirly fluffy either. I don't want adverts on tv geared to sub-adult toys (make-up and fashion dolls) nor to be honest the kids-time ads geared at their mothers, all about make-up and weight loss. It's not just advertisers - I wrote once to CBeebies asking why their trailers showed boys climbing trees while the girls giggled in the tent below. No reply... Anyway now Mumsnet is listened too perhaps there is hope for your campaign. Thanks!

longforasnooze Wed 13-Jan-10 12:01:58

Interesting thread. There are a lot of issues here. I only have boys, but often am relieved cause the things available for girls and the images presented etc horrify me and I don't know how I'd cope. Now that our patriarchal society has mostly gone and girls aren't protected so much they are very out there on their own quite young trying to figure it all out themselves and get hurt. They are sexualised from such an early age that they are not being prepared at all.
Also this stuff is sending the wrong messages to boys to. When my 4 year old comes home saying nippy nappy girls, I get so cross, where and how have you learnt or picked that message up?
How about a unisex clothing line? Pink was traditionally the colour for boys last century and I do get frustrated by the limited colours and styles for boys.
Advertising to under 16's I just think should be banned, it is wrong to market to this group, it is banned in Norway for instance. For example I know instantly if my son is on ITV cause within moments I get....I need one of those, and I need one of those, and that's for girls you want does he know and choose and the 'girls' things advertised are totally cringy.
There are differences in what girls and boys like and that is inevitable, go to any nursery and toddler group and the craft table will invariably be mostly attended by girls. We can celebrate these differences and nourish their different interests, but as a society we shouldn't be reinforcing them and precluding girls from being tower builders and boys from being artists and makers then they both sexes just lose out.
I will do my level best to instil my boys with respect for girls, but it's going to be hard and parents of girls I don't envy you it's a real worry.
I'd back anything.

onagar Wed 13-Jan-10 12:22:07

Has anyone worked out how to define this yet? Everyone knows what they mean, but can you put it into words that would go into a law.

I suppose you could demand that all shops that sell boys/girls clothes stocked exactly the same items in blue and pink, but where does that leave someone who wanted purple? and you'd have to force manufacturers to make them and then force customers to buy them or the shops would go broke.

'Sexy' is a matter of opinion so to be on the safe side you might have to make all skirts ankle length and thick and all tops cover from wrist to neck and shapeless. (would ballet clothes be banned?)

That's oversimplifying a bit but I don't see how you can do it at all.

Maybe easier to force an identical uniform on all kids until they are adult for home and school.

longforasnooze Thu 14-Jan-10 14:11:51

I don't think you can really make anything law, but you can make things more unisex.

If you look at the toys and clothes available in Europe for instance, they seem less gendered. There are toys, can I mention brands? That are loved by both sexes yet we don't see them on UK toy shop shelves so much, I have to go out of my way to find them. Red is a nice unisex colour for instance, which is Europe is more dominant in clothes and toys, little ovens and so on being red/neutral rather than pastels?

fords Thu 14-Jan-10 15:48:21

I totally agree. Kids should be allowed to be kids, not be forced into mini adulthood when they're far too young physically and emotionally.

Niki66 Thu 14-Jan-10 17:01:04

I would support such a campaign!!
Nicola wink

ImSoNotTelling Thu 14-Jan-10 18:02:44

Marking place smile will support campaign

morningpaper Thu 14-Jan-10 20:00:31

Hmmm....I feel in two minds about this one as well... I agree with Moondog/earthstar/etc.

I think that the sexualisation of women is the problem: a massive, massive problem. This is going to filter down to young girls because womanhood is what they aspire to.

When I was a young girl Samantha Fox was the big thing, and there were ads in girl's magazines for products that would make you put on weight...

But these days everything is about women = decoration for men's titillation. Last week 7 year old DD watched Blue Peter for the first time after nagging me because her friends watch it. It featured a segment where an 8 year old was rewarded for looking after her family by having a day trip to visit the "best band in the world!" the Saturdays. The next day, the Saturdays were stripping off in the Mail. How fucking depressing is that?

Perhaps we should campaign for role models for 8 year old girls that haven't posed naked for FHM or starred in porn films.

Girls clothing is generally, I imagine, bought by their mothers: if there is a market for it, it will be made, and it will sell. Making it prohibited might just encourage people to buy MORE of it as an edgy statement. hmm If mothers can't see that it's bloody STUPID, then I'm not sure we can do much about that.

We also don't agree about what's bad and what isn't: I don't find a fat toddler in a bikini inappropriate. Likewise, my DD has a pair of high heels - that she uses for ballroom dancing exams <ponce>. I don't think of those as sexy either.

I wouldn't want to piss on the idea, but I'm just not sure what the aims and objectives are, really.

The pink stinks campaign is good because its objectives are to show little girls that they have CHOICE and to give them alternative options and to celebrate proper women role models. I think that a campaign which offers an alternative tends to come across better than a campaign which might come across as trying to reduce already popular options. Mumsnet Thinks Pinks Stinks would be good...

ANYWAY Keep up the good work! I shall look forward to keeping an eye on progress!

morningpaper Thu 14-Jan-10 20:03:36

blah blah blah my LOOONG and boring opinion arrives two weeks late blush

MuchaFriki Fri 15-Jan-10 00:05:12

morningpaper, I enjoyed your opinion And "Mumsnet thinks pink stinks" has a good ring to it.

Appreciated Justine's compression of the debate too. This leaks into a complex of big messy issues, but that isn't a bad thing.

I would like Mumsnet to campaign for a four-day work week. But that is probably a matter for another thread

tatt Fri 15-Jan-10 13:25:11

maybe it's in the 11 pages I haven't read - but I think you're missing an important target.

One reason everything is sexualised these days is the internet. I can not buy my children blue or pink items, I can give my son dolls and teach my daughter to change a fuse. I can't stop them being affected by internet pornography.

Internet filtering software is too primitive to be of any use. Parents need something far more effective - something that distinguishes between art homework and other sites - and they need it to come with all computers from the start. And there needs to be an education campaign so that people realise just what their children are looking at!

Mumsnet introduced me to terms like golden showers and dragon butter, my children have probably already found them. They have certainly found yaoi, yuri and hentai sites and probably worse. They were introduced to them by schoolfriends whose parents may have no idea what their children are looking at/ reading and writing.

Personally I'd like to see some moral standards being taught at schools too - not leaving children to find their own standards with no guidance. That would include things like why men leaving their children and not seeing them again, for example, is socially undesirable, or why you should work for a living if you can.

MilaMae Fri 15-Jan-10 16:41:35

I would support it.

This Christmas I learnt a lot as my dd turned 5.

I learnt that unless you have a lot of money and time it's very hard to buy toys/clothes aimed at "little girls".

We walked out of Toys R Us in disgust when we saw the most hideous Bratz doll lounging on a bed with gold sheets in what can only be described as a boudoir. We were looking for a "little girl" doll the type I had as a child,not a baby doll but a child doll- there are very few anywhere.

We ended up buying dd a red headed Gotz Sarah doll that cost a small fortune online after pooling Xmas money from everybody. She had far less but she loves her doll.It has little girl clothes and she plays little girl games with it not " I want to be a TV chef fashion model" but picnics,exploring,hospitals,schools etc.

Now we were lucky enough to get the money from family and we found a fab site(one of about only 3 that sells them). Not everybody is in this position so settle for what they see. I feel a lot of this trash is bought because parents whizz into shops and it's all there is. They don't have the time to search online.

I find the same thing with clothes.Every season I search for nice little girl clothes. Now we are out of toddler sizes it's almost impossible. I search and eventually give up just buying Mini Boden with a few plain things from Next(few & far between),H&M and M&S if I'm lucky. Again I'm lucky that I have the time to do this. If you're busy you can't. Basically I think a lot of parents/grandparents would buy nice "little girl" stuff if it was more readily available.

I wonder if shop owners just simply aren't aware of this. We as mothers are the ones shelling out the money and actually buying the stuff so approaching them with these concerns is a good way to go.

MrsThePoint Fri 15-Jan-10 16:50:20

I have been dipping in and out of this thread when I have had time, but have to confess I haven’t read the whole thing. I just want to say I agree wholeheartedly that a campaign is much needed on this matter.

I have often said to my DH that I think stores, manufacturers and advertisers are guilty of ‘sexing children’. This, to me, covers not only the premature sexualisation of children through provocative clothing and slogans etc., but also the forced categorising of children into their gender, thereby sexing them into their identity, through ‘boys toys/clothes’ and ‘girls toys/clothes’.

I hope I haven’t missed the point, as I so often do (hence the MN name!) and would love to know if this is what people mean.

If so, why not call the campaign ‘stop sexing children’?

MrsThePoint Fri 15-Jan-10 16:54:49

I appreciate actual definition of campaign aims need to be clarified, just my two-pence worth, for what it’s worth!

Indaba Fri 15-Jan-10 17:16:26

Haven't had chance to read the whole thread. But the anti-sexualisation message for a campaign is needed. There are some simple steps that we could do that make the point. When a retailer stocks something inappropriate like thong styled underwear, T-shirts with inappropriate sexual messages lets kick up a fuss. Write to the Chief Exec and ask her or him if he would want his daughter dressed in that. I can guess the response (they'll be wrapped up nicely in Boden, thank you). Lets get active, photo the stuff and send it to the papers, stick it on-line. I don't get too het up about everything being in pink (yes, I know its all related, but in my experience a young girl gets to 5 or 6 then won't touch pink) but what is achievable is a complete ban on padded bras, thongs, racy logos, for under 16s. I've seen proper shoes with big heels for 5 year olds (?!?). Its not right and we should speak out. If every Mumsnetter on this thread went to the store manager and complained every time they saw it, we may get somewhere. I remember the days of anti-apartheid campaigning (yes, I'm that old) and not buying stuff from south Africa.....we were moaning to the store managers every week time in time out, buying stuff and returning it just to p**s them was part of a solution that worked .....slow consistent pressure on retailers does work.....they don't like the even the Daily Mail would support us! Rather than us saying what we don't like lets just get them to justify each and every item every time they stock it. The background to this is that I live in South Africa where 25% of girls first sexual experience is as a result of rape. Yes, there are complex reasons for those horrific numbers in SA but early sexualisation doesn't help. Get it started in the UK and there would be a few of us here who would love to kick something off here.....overtly sexual clothes here are a big problem. Come on, what are we waiting for?....whether its an offical MN campaign or not.....can we just speak out please.

MilaMae Fri 15-Jan-10 18:24:05

Good post Indaba.

Forgot to add it's the girls of mums who have no money or choice that I feel for. I worry that there will be 2 groups of girls growing up.Those that have a mother who can afford time and money to buy the non sexualisation stuff and those whose mothers can't-not fair.

HeraldAngel Fri 15-Jan-10 20:48:44

How about: Just Buy Boden?

Melita888 Sun 17-Jan-10 15:23:43

This is a VERY important subject indeed.
Anyone who feels passionate or concerned about this would be urged to sign a new petition:-

Please support this important petition for the rights of our children and to protect 'THE FAMILY' the true heart of any country'
As Mothers we must do all we can to guide our children and families.

Thoughts and experiences would be greatly recieved about this subject.

Also please join

Suporters of The Family Moral Movement:-

Mary-Alice and Chris Pollard of Cornwalls Voice for Animals

Lifescape Magazine

Rock Againt Child Pornography and Abuse

Melita Morgan International Actress/Human/Animal Rights Activist

..Campainging to clean up the image of how women are portrayed on the covers of newspapers and magazines, ie soft porn mags such as zoo and Nuts and The Sport and The Star.

Most of these publications are at 'eye leval' of children, which teaches and force feeds them from an early age to 'except' and view women as 'sex objects'.

We believe it fuels the Porn industry by encourging younger people to links to stronger material, as most soft porn titles such as Zoo, Nuts, Maxim etc have no age limits.
It also causes a great secret pain of countless women,who feel 'degraded' and 'de-valued',with many young women and young girls mis-guided to the value of their own sexuality, and self image.
These publications fuel a market of 'false' opportunities of fame and fortune., which leads to an exploitation of young women.

These issues are now starting to be reconised by Goverment too. Please write or email your local M.P.

In a recent survey publicised in The Daily Mail, 100% of young women surveyed stated these images and publications make them angry, offended, and upset.

One-fifth of young males in the same survey admitted the material encouraged them to see women as 'sex objects'


We need to target family stores such as Tesco's Sainsbury's and local smaller supermarkets, for their display of magazines and papers such as The Sport, Nuts and Zoo etc, as they are CONSTANTLY displaying these publications in full view of everyone and breaking very moral and official guidelines by having them displayed at childrens eye leval, and on the same shelves as childrens magazines!!!!

These FAMILY based stores and businesses have we believe have
'a duty bound obligation' to clean up their standards of morals if they are to be classed as 'family' stores.

Many parents have complained to The Family Moral Movement, and store managers, that they are having to tolarate having to choose a magazine for their child standing next to men and teenagers browsing through pages of sexual images of women, in such stores as Asda, Tesco, etc.

More polite pressure has to issued to family stores to
please clean up their moral act, and 'make shopping experiences for everyone a more happy experience'.
Complain politely to Store Managers, by writing, face to face or email.

This has to change! Should 'family' supermarkets,stores and petrol stations really be allowed to display in such an in your face way or even sell magazines and publications of this nature?

Films and T.V have to have 'strict' rules about their certification as to its it is believed by The Family Moral Movement, that these publications are governed by the same rules and guidelines.
For example a film has to make the viewer fully aware as to its content,
but we as a Nation,including our children are exposed to images sometimes worse than the contents in some films, as we shop (without choice)on a daily basis.

A Labour M.P for Crosby, who spent a year and a half researching the industry said "I do not want to censor this material but we must do something with the display of such titles"

MP Claire Curtis-Thomas warns "titles such as Nuts, Maxim, Zoo, The Sport etc are little more than porn and should be treated as such."

please sign the petition and repost

Anifrangapani Sun 17-Jan-10 16:04:21

Sexualisation of children starts very young - as soon as we accept that they will be dressed in a colour coded gender divided way. It was / is difficult to find gender neutral clothes for both of my kids (one of each). There is no need until their bodies start to change shape during puberty. Even at Primary age they have a "boys" uniform and a "girls" uniform for school.

Due to the person doing dd's scan she was misidentified as being a boy - so she was bought loads of clothes in blue. As a baby people trated her very differently when she had her "male" clothes on than when she was dressed in pink.

It is not just the "sexy" clothes I object to, but the whole differentiation between boys and girls at such an early age. It seems as if we are allowing our daughters be less valued in terms of what they have to offer society by limiting their role models to popstar / model / princess. None of which engage their brains or allow for a girl to be valued beyond her looks. Worse it gives my son and other males carte blanche to disregard any female who refuses to be judged by these standards.

We need to start celebrating women who are more than their looks.

Leonardetta Sun 17-Jan-10 20:10:39

I think that the more general issue of gender sterotyping is closely connected to this.
As a society we teach our girls from a very early age that a) your appearance is the most important thing about you and b) success in this area is achieved through buying things. The obvious presence of sex in this message is getting earlier and earlier and that is frightening. Another example of inappropriate sexualisation is the seeming horror at the idea of images of naked children, photos taken on the beach or at bathtime or whatever. But then that's got nothing to do with retailers so yeah, probabaly a bit off topic.

This website got a fair bit of press before Christmas and it may be of interest to some folk. They targeted a campaign against the Early Learning Centre for gender stereotyping their products.

CowWatcher Mon 18-Jan-10 11:16:49

Just read this. Only read orignal mumsnet post, but yes, absolutely agree & support this campaign.

sungirltan Tue 26-Jan-10 15:06:51

I used to work in an after school club. One of my charges who was about 11 at the time told me 'oh yeh, my mums done my room in everything playboy how i wanted' I was horrified! After this statement some of the younger kids were asking her 'yeh but whats the secret meaning of the bunny logo?' she whispered in their ears and I have no idea what she said. That disturbed me a bit too since actually the meaning of the playboy symbol isn't that overt unless you are an adlut and familiar with the history/brand. I wonder/worry what young girls interpret it as?

I agree with other poster though that the problem starts way earlier in girl's lives. I am a bit anti the gender divide in baby gear and when i was pregnant with dd i looked for gender neutral stuff obsessivley. not that easy to find is it? some stores have a neutral range - H&M v good, pumpkin patch and mcare so so but others (M&S big offenders!) seem to have absolutelty strict girls wear pink and boys wear blue policies.

But i digress...the worst offnder imo of girl segregation is the disney fecking princess range. its everywhere!! i'd like to burn it all!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 29-Jan-10 18:32:35

Hello again,
So we've had a crack at addressing some of the points that have been raised on this thread. We've defined our terms more and addressed the issue of parental choice. Have a look at this page and let us know your thoughts.
We've also had a crack at drafting a letter to retailers.
Please do let us know further thoughts.

garden Fri 29-Jan-10 23:12:59

Think the MU might back/support/give voice to you-they are very pro/supportive of family life. fab campaign. thank you.

Count me in. But boys have to be included!
I have recently struggled to find a nice t-shirt for DS, tall 5 year-old. They all have aggresive images or skulls, there was one with Bart Simpsom writing "A burp is not an answer", seen yesterday at Asda.

mrsmharket Sat 30-Jan-10 12:33:21

i agree with this campaign mn, for years i have had a huge problem with dd's dad and his family not seeing anything wrong in buying clothes for dd that i wouldn't even like to see a teenager wearing, his brother bought my dd a purple cardigan for xmas(nothing wrong there) but then i looked closer at the design and it said 'wild' and had a leopard-type print inside shock she's only 4

morningpaper Sat 30-Jan-10 18:53:04

Hmm I'm still not entirely sure what we are asking

How we will know if the campaign has been successful?

What items on the high street do people consider inappropriate at the moment?

onebatmother Sat 30-Jan-10 19:34:49

MP I do understand your point.

Problem is that there CAN be no concrete demand, beyond what we are suggesting in the 'definition of terms' section.

There are a multiplicity of inappropriate products for young girls, and we can't possibly specify them all.

I agree that - like so many of the things that many of us feel strongly about in RL - this issue is a bit of a 'Down With Bad Things' one.

But.. does the difficulty of specifying terms mean no-one should try and draw attention to this issue?

Personally I'd say not - I think that simply raising awareness is a valid campaign aim, and we will know that the campaign has been successful if retailers sign up to it. If they don't, it hasn't grin.

But very interested in what others think.

onebatmother Sat 30-Jan-10 19:36:05

Damn in fact meant 'there is a multiplicity of possible inappropriate products for young girls'

Like that makes it any clearer grin

morningpaper Sat 30-Jan-10 20:04:02

what kind of thing is inappropriate?

serious question, mainly because I don't tend to buy new clothes for my girls and rely on bags of hand-me-downs so haven't been clothes shopping for my dds for a shamefully long time

this issue seems to have gone over my head TBH blush

come on show my stuff to make me ANGRY, you know I like a bit of rage

morningpaper Sat 30-Jan-10 20:11:59

I do want that one of course

I just suppose that the point I made below... about the girlie pop group (ermm am not v with it) that appeared on CBBC being trussed in straps of leather on the next day's newspaper just made me think... there is no escaping this shit, the issue is just enormous and ... insidious, we hold these people up as innocent children's icons but they would have been classified as porn stars 20 years ago...

Don't have an answer TBH, just that the prohibitionist approach to some high street clothing items seems a bit pointless when even Blue Peter is effectively teaching our 6 year olds to emulate porn stars...

<insert despair here>

morningpaper Sat 30-Jan-10 20:16:55

Also I suppose I do live in town with only a Debenham's to shop in

So I might be a bit sheltered from the reality blush

Wereworm Sat 30-Jan-10 20:43:02

It is a really important area to make a noise about, and perhaps any initiative that encourages people to post on this topic is a good thing because it is a way of raising awareness and debate.

But is there a danger that precisely those retailers who don't sell stuff like this will sign up to the accreditation scheme as a way of consolidating the perception of their brand,and adding value to their advertising on MN or on/in other, similarly positioned, platforms? Whereas retailers who do sell stuff like this will ignore it because MN isn't their demographic in any case.

"pre-puberty, children should not be presented as sexual or encouraged to believe that attracting the opposite sex is something they need to consider"

I don't think you should use the term "pre-puberty" since that kind of implies it's ok for 11 year olds if they've gone through puberty. Maybe just "children"?

I think this is a good campaign in general. I'm wondering if the mumsnet brand is a big enough incentive for the retailers to sign up, but I'm sure it's worth a try!

floppybits Sat 30-Jan-10 22:02:55

As a stepmother and Mother of 2 girls am horrified by the grown up and tarty clothes on sale. They grow up quickly enough as it is.

cheeseycharlie Sun 31-Jan-10 10:47:08

Count me IN
The products which we are discussing here would have been considered totally unacceptable and taboo when we were kids (not THAT long ago). By having them on the shelves they become somehow acceptable, when they should not be. Let's not allow our daughters to be coerced into seeing them selves in terms of their desirability at the very time when they are forming their opinions about themselves and how the world works - this is not the post-feminist dream I had in mind for my daughter.

The campaign would be successful when dressing your daughter in provocative slogans and styles is as socially unacceptable as offering your child alcohol. This is not difficult to achieve - the social acceptability of smoking has been radically altered within the space of a few short years by judicious use of campaigning and law, and by getting the timing right. The timing is now right for this important issue. Let's get stuck in.

SilverStuddedBlue Sun 31-Jan-10 12:51:38

Count me in to this campaign, but think carefully and tightly draw the 'boundaries' of what constitutes unacceptable, concentrating on the worst examples. I question the motives of people who buy things so their children look like little porn stars or hitmen? Are they getting their laughs etc at the innuendo, a joke at the child's expense? They're not funny, they're sinister.

I will not buy the 'sexy' or skull-motif clothing for children, because I find it physically repugnant. Padded bras for pre-pubescents are too far. Ditto slogans that it takes a grown up to understand. Bratz dolls - I dread dd receiving one at her birthday party. They strut their stuff right in your face.

Age inappropriate stuff's been around for ages, as have 'mini-me' children. There were cheap 'high heeled' platform shoes for children in the 70s. Hotpants too! Remember Action Girl, a brunette with the same vital statistics as Barbie and Sindy, fully articulated limbs and a realistic dark bay horse - they had adventures. Now even toy horses come wearing eyeliner and mascara, and sparkly hair extensions. (Note: girls can actually by these things for their ponies in RL but that's a big digression!)

The question is whether it has now become too sexualised, and should this be acceptable? Is it just a reference to what adults are wearing, and the more blatant emphasis on sex in our society? So this campaign does need to happen to isolate children from this trend or this blip.

ppeatfruit Sun 31-Jan-10 14:24:37

yes iagree with this campaign on the whole. I do think we have to remember the dressing up issue; children love dressing up don't they?
I think all children are different and probably aren't as affected as we think they are. I'm thinking of a little boy who was a brother of one of my ds's friends who insisted on wearing long 'hair' which was a tshirt on his head and girls' clothes he was not conditioned in any way by what is deemed "appropriate" for a boy.

Thisroomwastidyfiveminutesago Sun 31-Jan-10 18:59:06

I was in John Lewis today and there are bras for girls aged 8. I know some girls develop early but these looked like completely flat ie- with no supportive function. I was a bit shocked - what do you think?

morningpaper Sun 31-Jan-10 19:27:25

Personally I'm not bothered by little girls running around pretending to wear bras like mummy - they are just dressing up like grown-ups aren't they? I used to tie my vests up in a knot so I could pretend to wear a bra...

I can't see bras as a BAD SEXUAL THING but I suppose that a lot of this is very subjective

What do you think?

zazizoma Sun 31-Jan-10 21:33:58

I like the letter.

MrsPeahen Mon 01-Feb-10 10:18:29

Absolutely support this campaign, on behalf of our daughters but also our sons, who will be impacted by the insecurities and weaknesses of these girl children who grow up subtly - and not so subtly - indoctrinated that their value is primarily sexual, and to "fail" to maximise this aspect of their being, is to drop down the pecking order at the age of, I don't know, somewhere between playing with hamsters and getting their first period?

Don't get me started - and do please rally to this cause.


I popped into tescos with my dd today after school and right there as you walk in you are confronted with all of those magazines with women in the nude in suggestive and graphic poses. One of them had two women gripping eachother. It's so inappropriate!

honeybunmum Mon 01-Feb-10 17:57:52

One of the shops I find sells inappropriate clothes for girls is next. They offer the same design for lots of different ages meaning that you can dress your 2yr old in the same slutty club-ware as their older sister! They do some nice baby stuff but as the children get older they become prosti-tots. It makes me sick! angry
I do however believe that as parents we buy the clothes so it is up to us to be educated as to the implications of our actions.
I would never buy clothes that sexualize my children in the same way that they don't have their ears pierced or wear make-up. I would not accept a gift for them if I felt it inappropriate. People who claim pester power leads them to buy these things need to brush up on their parenting skills and remember they have a duty to protect their children.
I think the campaign is a good idea but I think a better campaign would be to educate the people who dress their kids in these clothes.

SilverStuddedBlue Mon 01-Feb-10 18:38:53

I wonder if maybe people are buying these clothes as a bit of fun perhaps - at their childs expense?

Or else they themselves would look ghastly in such clothes so they vicariously live the WAG look thro' their daughters?

Does the pester power develop because the girls like these clothes? Or do they think that they ought to like these clothes as worn by teenagers and popstars etc? Are they bullied if they don't?

I'm less bothered by the gender/colour thing. Buying everything 2nd hand meant that I could afford some really good brand name clothes. Without logos; some do have spaghetti straps, empire line, cross-over etc, but if it's a beautiful design by Noa Noa or Monsoon then it's a beautiful garment, not 'sexy'

Nearly all girls I know passed through the pre-school phase adoring pink (which was actually a young boys colour in Victorian times - think of that!).

What I hate is the fashion, described by honeybunmum which targets these fashions, including EMO/Goth, to an age group that doesn't understand what they're choosing or being given to wear.

Wereworm Tue 02-Feb-10 12:19:19

I was prob. wrongto say below that the retailers who sell inappropriate products are all outside the MN demographic/MN influence. The ones who sell the most clearly offensive stuff probably are. But high street retailers who want to perceive themselves as responsible on this issue do sell mainstream products that some MNers, but not others, believe to be wrong.

The difficulty wd be adjudicating accreditation in the case of these arguably offensive products. How wd that work? Obv MNHQ wouldn't want to or be able to scrutinise entireproduct ranges. It would come down to the talkboard picking up on dodgy products and raising discussion. Would MNHQ then step in at a certain point and say 'lots of you seem not to like this product so we are telling X to remove it from their range or lose accreditation? In pracitce it might be unlikely that a strong enough consensus would emerge for that kind of action, and inappropriate for MNHQ to pronounce decisively on the conversation.

It's esp problematic when you consider that retailers will expect to see some sort of well-defined 'due process' before they are subjected to a decision that might be financially damaging for them (perhaps that would even be a legally enforeable expectation on the part of signatories??)

Would it be better not to present the pledge as an accreditation scheme? If there is no realistic sanction, no very real threat of being kicked off the list, Mumsnet-accredited status will just be a costless new advertising resource for retailers. The 'Pledge' might be better conceived (and still v useful)just as a way of stimulating discussion on MN and drawing retailers' continuing attention to the discussion. It wd still give leverage to posters' future discussions of offensive products.

Wereworm Tue 02-Feb-10 12:48:23

All I mean by Mumsnet-accredited status, btw, is having a list of retailers (published on MN, in press releases, and in in-store leaflets) who are signatories to a code of practice and whose continuing presence on the list carries the implication that they are continuing to abide by the code.

If we don't have a watertight procedure for kicking people off such a list, it is just a freebie for them.

franch Tue 02-Feb-10 16:03:21

I started off very keen on this campaign but am very much persuaded that soft porn in newspapers is a much more fundamental - and of course strongly connected - issue.

[[ I'd much prefer MN to put its weight behind this.]

Ewe Wed 03-Feb-10 21:14:24

Horrid new clothing line launch - hope this line doesn't hit the UK, I think it is clear to say that if anyone needs a definition of age inappropriate clothing then the bottom picture is probably it.

franch Thu 04-Feb-10 06:34:17
onebatmother Thu 04-Feb-10 13:56:34

PSSST! Morningpaper - over here!

That's disturbing

Elena67 Sun 07-Feb-10 17:31:48

I love the proposed letter and think that such a campaign might just help to start a backlash against the sexualisation and 'passification' of our girls as well as the pigeonholing of our boys as little toughs. Go for it.

Toddlershambles Tue 09-Feb-10 01:25:27

This is such an important issue.

Sorry this is so long and if this repeats other suggestions - haven't yet read back through thread.

There's an election coming and Mumsnetters are clearly regarded as a target group. So get all the party leaders signed up - no such thing as a free biscuit. Better still, get them all to do it jointly - for hey look we can rise above petty difference brownie points.

Get the organisation's attention at the highest level. Get the Chief Execs of M&S, Asda, Tesco in for a webchat. If they have daughters or granddaughters don't be afraid to ask them where they drew/draw the line. If they exist, have a few examples from their empire to hand. "Chief Exec of X says high heels OK for 3 year olds" is not a headline they want. And if they do say it, make the sort of fuss which will get picked up more widely.

Contact the british retailers association, if that's the name, and ask them for a response.

Do collect as many hard examples as you can - pictures at minimum - of what the problem is, with as much specific detail as possible of where it was on sale and when. Put out a call on Mumsnet - give us a job, you have an army of photographers. No pix of other people's children, obviously.

I'd guess from what I see that quite a lot of the most inappropriate stuff is not bought by parents but by other adults (troubling thought that some know exactly what they are doing sad) and gets worn just because it's in the house and the parent is too stressed, distracted, short of clothes to do anything about it. Or because the child gets their hands on it before parent has a chance and the fight to get it off after that them is too much. So an important target audience here is friends and relatives, especially maybe who buy things on an impulse because they think it's a bit of a laugh or a bit cute. Any publicity you can get somehow needs to attract their attention too, in a way they won't find snobby/prim - starting from the assumption they care about the child as a person..

Somewhere in here's a basic message about respecting children as people, not vehicles for a joke.

Hate to say it, but worth speaking to organisations that work with sex offenders and with vulnerable children to check whether they are picking up any indications that this sort of clothing is being added to the list of excuses for abusing children. If not, well that's one good thing. If so, though you might not want to wave that around, it would be worth putting to retailers and politicians privately. I doubt it's ever the real reason, and is no more than another excuse - but in any case we should ask why would anyone want to help create a climate where people who want to harm our children see their attitudes apparently affirmed and normalised in mainstream life?

ClaireAnneJames Tue 09-Feb-10 13:09:42

Why not give awards NOW with lots of press coverage, to retailers who are currently selling age appropriate clothing for girls. A couple of people have mentioned Boden, they are probably the obvious one and do great girls clothes up to age 13-14 (although even they have too much 'little soldier' khaki boyswear). Of course Mr. Johnnie Boden has daughters, and a conscience.

Other retailers who might qualify could be Pumpkin Patch (although their teen range have rather short skirts...) Gymboree (online US but deliver internationally, go up to age 12) maybe also GAP? (interesting these are all US).

Then companies like Next, BHS, Primark, etc who are failing dismally could start to strive for the award, and improve their ranges.

I think it would be much easier to reward shops who are getting it right, than try to explain what is wrong with high heels, miniskirts and slogan T shirts in black and silver, to those shops who don't seem to get it.

Anguis Tue 09-Feb-10 13:34:10

Isn't that exactly what Mn would want to avoid? mightn't it undermine the impact of MN as a new campaigning entity if it started out by just giving accolades (for doing what they would do anyway) to those clothes retailers like Boden who are either its actual advertising customers, or potential customers in virtue of their close fit with the kinds of clothes advertised on MN? It might seem a bit too comfortable.

Better to reach out beyond that sphere?

ClaireAnneJames Tue 09-Feb-10 14:42:06

OK can you think of any retailers currently getting it right 'beyond that sphere'? I'm struggling....

scase Wed 10-Feb-10 13:25:10

I'm a new member of mumsnet and am really encouraged by what I think is an incredibly important campaign. I'm part of an international coalition against sexual exploition and have posted a link about the campaign on our facebook page, here:
If any of you are facebook users do feel free to connect with us. I'll post updates of the campaign there - or if anyone else joins up you could post updates too. We'd love for people to share any info they find on this issue and/or contribute your thoughts to the facebook page or our blog.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 11-Feb-10 15:23:47

Just to keep you posted we'll be looking to contacting retailers in the week of the 22nd so we'll let you know what they say.

If anyone spots any particular examples of creepy, sexy children's wear before then do let us know on this thread.


mistydancer Mon 15-Feb-10 15:45:20

Just seen this discussion Topic.

This weekend we had a prime exanple of this in the papers with pictures of Katie Price's little girl Princess.

Jordan has yet again shown that she thinks sex is the best way to sell anything in her life, including dressing her 2 year old up as a mini me of her and then publishing her pictures on the internet for all and sundry to see, and we all know what i mean by that.

I used to work in a high street retail store with a childrens department.The underewear we had coming in appalled me, little girls should be wearing vests and knickers for little girls, not cammy tops, bras and even thongs (not in the store i worked). You can even get False eyelashes and false nails for kids these days. false nails are ok because they look like dressing up gear and come ready glued that can be peeled off like stickers, but false eyelashes are wrong. You have to glue them on, its hard enough putting them on yourself yet alone trying to put them on a wriggly toddler.

I think its time children went back to being children. when we were kids if we asked for a phone (landline its called these days) we were told when you can pay the bill you can have a phone. now we have pay as you go phones with internet access! when did kids stop buying sweets, toys and CD's with pocket money and start buying phone credit and the like.

BirdyBedtime Tue 16-Feb-10 09:06:38

I've only just come across this campaign through the link on the front page and agree with it 100%. Well done MN for raising an important issue yet again. My DD is almost 5 and is tall so is already out of the younger range in Next, M&Co etc. I was looking for some clothes for her at the weekend and was soooo unimpressed by the styles of clothes available for her - I could see very little that I'd want her to wear. I don't want her to look like a teenager, I want her to look like the little girl she is. I am going to have to resort to online US and European brands (which cost a lot more) just to not have her look like a miniature street-walker. There is an issue of 'pester-power' as she picked up several inappropriate (in my view) outfits saying 'this is nice'. Getting retailers to understand this is going to be hard work but is so important in this day and age.

InmyheadIminParis Wed 17-Feb-10 12:57:18

Just wanted to add my support and my thanks for getting this campaign up and running. Good luck with the retailers next week. smile

topiarygal Wed 17-Feb-10 15:36:24

I think it's a great idea - and wherever the grey areas lie in this discussion it is worth the effort.
I like positive action - giving a stamp to products that are non-sexual - e.g. The anti princess reading list from the american website (
Maybe giving awards for 'empowering' (is that the right word) toys/ clothes ... more PR for the cause ...

Great idea!

cosysocks Sat 20-Feb-10 23:45:50

MNHQ make sure you send letters out to the retailers that advertise on the site as well. Fat face have currently got written on their price tags a logo 'bouys are for life not just for the weekend' on girls clothes aged from 5!

Charly123 Thu 25-Feb-10 17:52:49

I have 2 early teen girls and my big issue is with magazines aimed at my girls e.g. Sugar magazine being crammed full of singers who also grace the covers (in varying states of undress) of the Lad's magazines and newspapers like the News of the World. They should be made to target one audience or the other and not change as and when it suits them. I have also seen these "singers", the group The Saturdays springs to mind, on Blue Peter which I again think is highly inappropriate. A friend of mine was outraged when she heard her daughter's school was to be visited by one of these "artistes". I don't think we should let our daughters' think that in order to have a successful career as a singer/actress they will have to be prepared to get their clothes off.
This would be easy to stop - if you're in a lad's mag or some raunchy pose in a newspaper you cannot then feature in any magazines or TV shows aimed solely at children.
I am 100% behind this campaign and wish you all the very best of luck.

GrumpyOldHorsewoman Fri 26-Feb-10 11:51:10

I am also firmly behind you in this. I trawl the internet to buy clothes for my DDs because the High Street Stores just provide so much tackiness with heeled, jewelled sandals (fine for playing dress-up, but as daywear?) and off-the shoulder nonsense in black, palest pink and/or glitter. Why should it be so hard to find children's clothes that just look like children's clothes without having to buy them from France, Scandinavia or the USA as I do?
Also, a Kiwi relative bought my DDs magazine subscriptions for christmas with my 6 year old youngest receiving the innocuous sounding 'Animals and Me'. This magazine is clearly for girls of my DD's age, but still has bits of it that talk about 'cringe-making things that have happened to you' and 'crushes'. At that age, boys were a disgusting other-species to me, not something I cringed or crushed over! And why is this necessary in a magazine that is supposed to be about animals? All the magazines for girls seem to be full of silly fripperies with so little of real interest (with the exception of the excellent BBC publications). As though anything educational must surely be boooooooorrrrriing and only boys and shopping are fun.

meltedchocolate Fri 26-Feb-10 12:00:52

Just want to show my support. I hate seeing girls walking around in small skirts, high heels, sporting playboy symbols. It is wrong, it is unecessary and it needs to stop!!

philmassive Fri 26-Feb-10 12:17:48

Yes, please, I'm in. 2ds's, so would appreciate 'kids be kids' or an alternative. Boys might not be sold mini skirts, and lip gloss in their shoes but they are targetted by images of violence, and by the images that suggest that girls are 'fair game'. This is a great campaign.

sheeplikessleep Fri 26-Feb-10 12:55:17