UK retailer Primark has been accused of sexualising toddlers by selling frilly, adult-style bikinis for children younger than two.
Young mother Holli Sherratt saw the swimwear while shopping and felt they were inappropriate.
Ms Sherratt said:
“In my eyes it is completely stripping the innocence and childhood of said child. When I first saw the bikini, I instantly thought it was lovely until I realised it was for a child.
“A child should be covered up, protected from the sun and not flaunted as some sort of model. I have a daughter of my own and I want to protect her innocence and let her be a child. I look at this bikini the same way I look at bras that are aimed at young children.”
Children’s campaigners Kidscape have urged the retailer to “let our children be children” and to leave bikinis for a time when girls have breasts and make a choice to wear them.
Primark denied the swimwear is unsuitable, claiming the bikinis are in line with British Retail Consortium guidelines.
“Why do girls’ dysfunctional clothes prioritise their looks over their freedom? And why do we parents buy them?”
A recent article on SBS described a mother’s frustration over the process of trying to buy appropriate clothing and footwear for her young daughter. Most of the clothing is designed to be pretty rather than comfortable or practical. Louise Wedgwood writes:
When shopping for my eldest, a boy, it’s a breeze to find shoes that are comfortable to play in and practical for parks and puddles.
When I stood in front of the girls’ sections in three different major retailers, I was perplexed each time. Why is almost EVERYTHING pink, frilly or sparkly? How are pale fabrics and glittery finishes to withstand the rigours of play?
On that first naive shoe-buying mission at my local shopping centres, I was desperate to go home with something. So I bought the most practical shoes I could find – Mary Janes in a sparkly rose gold canvas, and glittery jelly sandals.
From birth, girls’ “cutest” outfits are usually dresses. But they can be unwieldy to move in, and girls in dresses are discouraged from climbing, hanging upside down or doing anything else fun that might show their undies.
I’ve unwittingly restricted my daughter with dresses. We were given a sweet purple cotton dress with white polka dots, buttons down the back and contrasting frills on the edges. I popped it on my daughter for a playdate with a baby boy the same age, around 10 months old. They were both eager explorers but she kept getting tangled in the skirt and couldn’t crawl in it, navigate stairs or climb onto furniture. As soon as we got home, I changed her into leggings.
If an alien landed in any of our major retailers, you could forgive them for assuming girls and boys are different species. Girls’ t-shirts encourage them to be "sweet and fun" and "hug your heart out". Meanwhile boys' shirts instruct them to “say yes to new adventures”, “fly away with me” and be superheroes.”
Both boys’ and girls’ slogans limit them to narrow stereotypes but the girls’ are particularly uninspiring. “Those companies are selling sexism, basically, the idea of a subordinate female or a dominant male,” according to Dr Hannah McCann, a gender studies lecturer at the University of Melbourne.
Clothing retailer Gap has been accused of sexism over their latest kids collection. The advertising campaign features a little boy, labelled 'the scholar' wearing an Albert Einstein t-shirt, and a girl, the 'social butterfly' whose outfit is the 'talk of the playground'.Read more
Media release: Collective Shout, Good on You and STOP THE TRAFFIK Criticise Just Group for Letting Customers Down
"How on earth do you think this is acceptable to sell knowing a large percentage of your customers are teens?"Read more
Last May we called out CafePress for selling slut and incest themed baby clothing. We weren't the first to do so, as US based activists like One Angry Girl had been campaigning against their pornified merchandise since 2004.
Last week, our activists came across more Cafepress clothing and merchandise with porn inspired and pro-rape slogans and imagery. Cafepress responded, essentially encouraging members of the public to do their job for them making further complaints at Cafepress's convenience.
In the past, Cafepress have hidden behind their user generated system, claiming they will implement systems to solve the problem. They've known about the problem for years and they have done nothing.
This week, our campaign generated international media interest, with news media out of the UK, Canada, France and US. Cafepress is beginning to discover that sexploitation does not sell.
Cafepress selling BABY clothing with offensive slogans
Cafepress still selling vulgar, sexualised children's and baby clothes
We recently spoke out about online clothing retailer "Cafepress" advertising vulgar, sexualised clothing for babies and children on its website. Onesies that were made available online included "I Love sluts"..."blow job instructor" and "No gag reflex."Read more
Clothing retailer Best & Less responds to complaints
Last week Collective Shout supporter Deb McNair alerted us to a range of children’s underwear in Best & Less. The underwear sets included knickers with matching crop tops in puppies, kittens and Tinkerbell patterns for girls as young as two.Read more
Melinda Tankard Reist in the Sunday Herald Sun Aug 19 2012
Also published at www.melindatankardreist.com
Last Friday, Ana Amini, a Port Macquarie mother and primary school teacher, posted a few lines on Target’s Facebook page lamenting the lack of age-appropriate, non-sexualised clothing for her daughter,8. She said they had lost her as a customer.
Six days later the comment had attracted more than 72,000 ‘likes,’ and drawn thousands of responses from others concerned about scaled-down versions of adult fashion for girls.