Child experts and advocates say 'Let children be children.'
A number of Collective Shout supporters contacted us about the latest Witchery catalogue, which portrays children in adult styled clothing and poses.
The issue has since hit the media with a number of child advocates speaking out about the catalogue.
FORMER Play School presenter Noni Hazlehurst has hit out at a disturbing trend by advertisers to "adultify" children.
The popular actor said retailers were entering dangerous territory by portraying children as pouting, high fashion "mini-me" adults.
Hazlehurst, an ambassador for Barnardos, said it was ridiculous that young children were being pressured to grow up quickly, and their innocence needed protecting."They look like recalcitrant teenagers, I think this is a really dangerous direction," she said."I think it's offensive. The whole point of early childhood is to be joyous and free."Children as young as five are now going on diets, are worried about how they look, how they present - this just should not be an issue for children."It's really sad that people are trying to redefine what early childhood means."
To the CEO and Product/Buying Manager,
I am the Director of kids free 2B kids, an organisation which raises community, corporate and political awareness about the early sexualisation of children.
I am writing to express concerns that the images in your WitcheryKids catalogue are adultifying children.
Child development professionals are concerned that children are being catapulted out of early childhood into the teen years and are increasingly portrayed as ‘mini-me' adults.
While your philosophy states that ‘WitcheryKids is playful and real ‘-the images do not portray kids in a ‘playful' or ‘real' way....rather they are posed and styled as brooding precocious teenagers.
They are not smiling or joyful or having ‘fun' - which seems at odds with your belief that ‘fun and imagination are at the centre of every child's universe'.
Your philosophy states that your ranges reflect this fun - but your catalogue images certainly don't.
Your range is for 2-9 year olds and your philosophy says that ‘Witchery Kids is for kids who want and know how to choose clothes that express their personality and desire for independence.'
Latest research shows that younger children are experiencing increased body image problems, eating disorders, anxiety and depression as a result of pressure to grow up too quickly... and for obsessing about their appearance.
2-9 year olds should not be concerned about ‘growing up in style' - in fact they should not be concerned about growing up at all!
Nor should they be thinking that their ‘personality and desire for independence' comes from the clothes they wear.
It's a curious trend for children's fashion to be ‘inspired by up-to-the-minute adult trends and styled for the smaller set.'
What happened to kids clothing styled on ...kids?
It's one thing to create ‘adult trends styled for the smaller set' - but to actually portray the children as mini adults or older teens is extremely misguided.
Perhaps you have fallen for an ad agency spin?
Perhaps you have missed the increasing amount of publicity about parents objecting to kids being portrayed as adults?
If you want to understand more about this increasing problem, I would be happy to discuss the issue with you.
I recently spent time with the CEO and Product/Buying Manager of Cotton On Kids who crossed the line with their adult sexualised humour on children's wear, which was highly publicised earlier this year.
It is important for you to know that there is a strong public groundswell against the sexualisation and adultification of children.
Kids free 2B Kids calls for retailers to be proactively responsible about what they are selling and marketing to children and how they are portrayed.
I look forward to your response.
Free 2B Kids
Collective Shout co-founder and author Melinda Tankard Reist and Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg discussed this issue on the morning show. Michael Carr-Gregg offered some insight into the psychological impact of fast tracking young people into adulthood.
Contact Witchery here: [email protected] and as always, let us know your thoughts and repost your letters to Witchery in the comments section below.