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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.

Thanks.
MNHQ

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?

[helpful]

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.

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