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How did wearing shorts up your backside become fashionable?

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By Jane Copeland

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You would have to be blind not to have noticed the disappearing hem line of denim shorts these days.

Young girls in particular seem to be embracing this noticeable trend to wear increasingly ‘barely-there’ shorts.

Chances are you’ve raised an eyebrow and felt a tad perplexed. After all we’re at the shopping mall and not the beach, correct? Maybe you put your confusion down to being old fashioned.

Turns out it wasn’t just you.

An example of Target’s range of clothing for girls 7-16.

Retailer Target have been at the receiving end of much online criticism over their clothing targeted at young girls.  It was reported in the news last week that a Port Macquarie resident, Ms Amini who is the mother of an eight year old, took to her keyboard and complained on Target’s facebook page with this comment. She was not prepared to shop at Target again because it was selling clothes that made young girls “look like tramps”.

A collective hallelujah was heard in the online world. The post quickly attracted 79,000 “likes” and 4,300 comments. Someone was finally saying publicly what many of us had been quietly thinking.

As Fairfax noted,

Patterson Lakes mother Gretta Hawkhead took to Facebook to support Mrs Amini’s call for clothing that did not sexualise young girls.

Mrs Hawkhead complained that much of Target’s 7-year-plus range was made up of short shorts and dresses, low-cut necklines, sheer lace, or ”grungy” clothing.

”It’s very provocative and not appropriate for young girls at all,” said the mother of six-year-old Mia.

As reported in news.com.au,

“looking for shorts for my 9-year-old daughter and could only find ones that looked like undies. So I had to go somewhere else, pls no tacky shorts this summer!” posted Michelle Kelsen.

As a mother myself I share their sentiments. I have to admit that back in the day I wore what would have been considered age-inappropriate clothing. Around the age of 15 I recall wearing hot pants that would give Kylie Minogue’s infamous gold hot pants a good run for their money (except mine were emerald green). However – my much coveted green shorts were pretty hard to get my hands on and I certainly couldn’t find anything like them at my local department store!

Nowadays though, as our culture has become sexualized, sexy clothing for young girls has become mainstream. We’ve all seen the underwear with sexual innuendo splashed across them, the butts hanging out and the jewellery branded with the global pornographic brand Playboy.

Higher visibility creates a sense of normalcy and I firmly believe that because family retail stores are selling age inappropriate clothing targeting young girls, they are part of the problem.

Marketing a leopard print skirt that looks like a belt to a seven year old? It’s simply not right.

Target’s response to the whole situation has been fairly predictable. The Age  reports,

Target Australia’s general manager corporate affairs, Lynn Semjaniv, as saying: “we believe in taking great care to ensure that our range is both age-appropriate and something that our customers’ children will love … We are taking the feedback we have received from our customers on Facebook very seriously … for current and future product decisions.”

The thing is, retailers know what they are doing. It is sad that Target has to be encouraged to exercise corporate social responsibility.

Call me old fashioned but I’m a little over considering it fashionable to wear what looks like just a t-shirt -shorts nowhere to be seen. If we continue to see sexualised clothing targeted at children under the age of 10, I dread to think what we may find ourselves raising an eyebrow at in the future.

Let’s put a stop to the increasing sexualisation of our culture. Retailers need to be held accountable and exercise a duty of care in keeping our children safe. It is not appropriate for retailer to be encouraging  children to look sexy and they should be ashamed of themselves. One way of doing this is to vote with your dollar. Another way is to join Collective Shout, a group that campaigns against the sexual exploitation of women.

What’s your opinion? Do you think retailers should be held accountable for the style of clothing they sell?

 

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Jane Copeland - to view all of Jane's blog post click here

Jane Copeland is an Australian entrepreneur and head of The Business Made Beautiful Academy – an online business school for women utilising her unique Next Top Coach ™ System. She is also a digital marketing authority, publisher of the award winning blog Copingwithjane.com and author of the book Boardroom to Baby. Jane's obsession with internet marketing and her teachings, have helped many people across the globe to stand out from the crowd and redefine their version of success. Learn more about Jane’s programs here.

  • Great post! I don’t have girls – I have a three year old son though and I want him to grow up respecting woman, appreciating them for their brains and personality and beauty but not thinking of them as sex objects. The fact that his school friends will dress like this and wear heels at the age of 7 scares the shit out of me!! The world is only going to get worse for woman all over again if this is where we are headed!!

    • Thanks Elle! I have a one year old son and like you want him to grow up not just viewing women as sexual objects. I think it’s important to point out that it isn’t the clothes per say but rather the sexualisation of children and our culture that is the issue. In no way should the children wearing these clothes be at fault in anyway because the culture they are part of a culture which has made it acceptable to sexualise children. That’s my opinion anyway…

  • I have two boys and a girl on the way. My boys have a rather precocious interest in women but I am pleased to see they like strong female role models and pretty feminine (but not sexually provocative) dresses when they tell me that a woman is “brootiful”. I don’t see why young children should be dressed in the same way as women trying to be sexually attractive to men are. Besides, then I would miss out on all the gorgeous little floral frocks etc that I am dying to dress our soon-to-be-here little girl in!

  • The other thing that annoys me about clothing for young girls is that its so impractical. My 2.5yo likes to climb and run and generally get in a pickle so needs clothing that protects her. And what happened to slip slop slap? shouldn’t we be encouraging our kids to cover up and protect their skin from the sun? When I can’t find appropriate clothing for my daughters I often check the boys section…

    We can’t blame it all on the retailers though.. they wouldn’t be selling it it there wasn’t a market for it.

    • That’s so true, kids clothing should be just that. You know I feel we can blame the retailers because they create the market for it by playing on vunerable minds desire to be like the older kids.

  • I agree Jane, clothing these days doesn’t leave anything to the imagination and there are things that are totally inappropriate for girls of any age.

    But what it really comes down to is the parents. Little girls don’t go out and buy their clothes for themselves, parents do and even if as they get older parents need to draw the line as to what is acceptable and what is not. Obviously these clothes are selling and there is a market for them.

    There is age appropriate clothing out there (I have four girls by the way) and as parents we need to instill these values and self respect into our children.

    • I agree Jodi it has to start with the parents, however unfortunately I don’t think parents alone can address this issue because it’s bigger than their influence. Children want to wear what their peers are wearing. It’s more of social responsibility issue that the whole of society needs to be concerned about whether they are a parent or not.

  • As a mum of three girls (6,11,12) its a daily battle to not only suggest what is appropriate but to find the clothes in the first place. There is a massive gap in the market for the tween brand – most shops focus on the under 5s and then there is a leap to adult wear with not much in between.
    I must admit I shop at target a lot but just as with any other parenting decision I pick and choose based on what my girls like and what I want them to wear. Its simple – we don’t buy the stuff that isnt appropriate. I get that people get really irritated with the culture but the issue is, is that someone must be buying it for shops to be able to sell it. If we dont buy then it isnt an issue. Is that too simplistc or maybe my husband and I have girls that are happy to dress fashionably but appropriately?
    (Also if I had the legs for short shorts Id probably wear them – didnt we all watch puberty blues the other night, nothing has changed that much)

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