Letter to retailers about Let Girls be Girls campaign
An invitation to join the Mumsnet Let Girls be Girls Campaign
Many Mumsnet parents are very concerned about products which appear to encourage the premature sexualisation of children. Here are some examples of the type of comments we've frequently seen on our Talk forums:
"Ghastly, vile and just plain wrong! Why can't children be allowed to be children?"
"Little girls are being groomed into passively accepting their place as objects in our increasingly pornified culture, and it stinks."
So we've launched a campaign, called Let Girls be Girls, to address the issue - and we'd like to invite your company to sign up.
The Mumsnet campaign offers a positive course of action: a Mumsnet Code of Practice, which commits retailers not to sell children's products which play upon, exploit, or emphasise their sexuality.
We hope that you'll sign up to the code, and take this opportunity to show parents that your company believes that children should be allowed to be children.
The impact of premature sexualisation
Research suggests that premature sexualisation has an enormous impact on girls' wellbeing. A recent study found that it affected "cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development."
Of course, we understand that parents always have the option of not buying products which sexualise children. But we know from experience that parents are often subject to 'pester power', and that the more widely available these products are, the more acceptable – inevitable, perhaps - they are perceived to be.
In reality, we don't believe that many parents positively demand these products – quite the opposite, in fact. We think that retailers who sign up to the campaign will attract many new customers who want to support companies which take the lead on this issue. Most parents don't actively want products which sexualise children.
The Mumsnet Code of Practice
It's not, of course, possible to give a definitive list of all the products which would contravene the Mumsnet Let Girls be Girls code.
But as a guide, we believe that children's underwear should not mimic adult lingerie. Clothing should not feature slogans, which could be read as 'sexy', provocative, or 'flirty' and little girls' shoes should not feature 'grown-up' heels.
Beyond that, we'll be leaving it to the judgement of individual retailers to choose products which don't sexualise children. We think that retailers who sign up to the Mumsnet Code will use common sense in their buying decisions, and err on the side of caution.
Retailers are very welcome to consult Mumsnetters if they're unsure about particular products. Companies which are perceived as 'pushing the boundaries' persistently might lose their accreditation, so please feel free to ask us!
Do let us know as soon as possible if you'd like to join the Mumsnet Let Girls be Girls campaign – retailers who commit to the code will be featured on our campaign page and in our press releases.
We'd be more than happy to discuss branded campaign material for in-store display, should you so wish.
The bigger picture
Though the Mumsnet Let Girls be Girls campaign is limited to products that sexualise children, we want to let you know that the 'gendering' of children's clothing is a recurring topic on Mumsnet.
Many posters say they're very unhappy that so much girls' clothing is available only in pink - and they want to see more clothing which, unlike crop-tops and short skirts, encourages the kind of active play that young girls need to grow up healthy and confident.
And it's not only girls' clothing which concerns them - an equally vocal number of Mumsnetters are fed up that so much clothing for boys casts them as aggressive macho men, featuring a military camouflage theme, or 'toxic' skulls. Where are the colourful, non-gendered clothes for boys?
We hope you'll bear both these questions in mind when you consider your buying strategy for the coming year.