This blog post has taken me ages to write, so it’s kind of “old news” now. Sorry about that, I’ve been busy cycling and reading about cycling and talking about cycling and obsessing about cycling for some time and it’s pushed any other thoughts to the back of my head.
My main point is that I don’t believe kids are being sexualised any more than they were 20 years ago. I see pictures of semi clad “grown up” ladies in ridiculous heels on telly and billboards and in the gossip and lifestyle pages of newspapers, I’m not denying that. I see photos of Suri Cruise and Piper Palin in heels and I think “Yikes, that’s probably not healthy for growing children,” same as everyone else does. I also think “What stupid parents,” but then as someone who isn’t a parent, I fully accept that it’s their decision how to dress their
dolls kids, not mine.
In an ice-cream-sale-in-hell kind of way, I agree with David Cameron that it’s a social responsibility not a state one. If parents are buying their children sexy clothes, then that’s their business, and mine to shudder at the apparent lack of taste. If adults see children in sexy clothes and think “PHWOAR” then it’s a problem with the adults, not the children. A kid in make up looks exactly that, a kid:
"Mummy, buy me that new iPhone now or I'll grow up to make tough decisions about your retirement."
I grew up seeing images like this:
Madonna whore complex?
Free pasties for everyone!
I knew all the words to Push It by Salt ‘n’ Pepa as a toddler, and it’s now a karaoke classic.
When you learn to talk and that some words get a bigger reaction than others, you use those words more often. Words like “Wanker,” “Div,” and “Bumface” will continue to delight me as long as I live.
So Mumsnet’s “Let Girls Be Girls” campaign seems a bit unnecessary to me. I haven’t seen any children wearing heels or mini skirts or even make up – except for rare special occasions like weddings, when everyone is expected to wear uncomfortable and often distasteful clothes, and I haven’t seen any shops selling them recently. Ok, so just because I haven’t been browsing the children’s sections of popular clothing outlets in the last 10 years, it doesn’t mean they’re not selling this filth flarn filth. But if that’s the case, it should be up to all the responsible parents to boycott those shops and let the other shops reorder the bestselling-non-sexy stock. Isn’t that what supply and demand is all about?
IIRC, Tammy Girl (my favourite place to get clothes as a kid) sold a thong for children as young as 5, which sparked Miranda Sawyer (I think) to make a documentary on it a few years back. I remember it because I’d been shopping with my mum a few days earlier when she jokingly asked me if I wanted a thong to go with my training bra (which I hated wearing) – you might be pleased to know that I flatly refused. Despite being the girliest girl I know now, I certainly wasn’t as a child. As it happens, I don’t enjoy wearing thongs as an adult either. It’s comfy pants or nothing in case you were wondering. Ooh err.
Children sometimes like doing things that make adults frown. Whether it’s refusing to eat anything except ice cream or saying naughty words or heaven forbid wearing something that would have been inappropriate when I were a young lass (my mum never let me wear anklets, saying they were “For women of the night”). Children have always been children, and pushing our own insecurities/concerns onto them on a matter as trivial (IMO) as whether we think they look too sexy, before they even have a notion of what “sexy” means, could do more damage to how they grow up than if we just let them be kids.
Or have I missed the point?
If the issue is about seeing semi naked women everywhere, then yeah. I’d like to see an equal number of sexy men on billboards and adverts and in national daily publications. If it’s about promoting unrealistic ideas about sex and sexuality, then on that we agree, but that doesn’t seem to be the focus of Let Girls Be Girls.*
*On a side note, what if those girls want to be boys?