Retail Manipulation and Destruction of Childhood

20 04 2011

I wouldnt call myself a prude by any stretch of the imagination but to have some jumped up arsehole young lady *cough* claim that its ok to dress a pre-teen child in clothing more suited to a person at least 10 years older pisses me off.

Its easy, when you are barely out of adolesence yourself, to claim it’s a child’s right to wear a padded bra at age 7 or 8 but there are few if any children of such age in *need* of any kind of bra let alone a padded one. I don’t think I was alone at age 7 in thinking bra’s were silly, embarrassing contraptions and dreaded the day I needed to wear one. It was certainly cringed at in the playground amongst my peers. When the first girl in my class to get a bra turned up at school wearing it, it was gossip for weeks and not in the envious kind of way.

And then there are slogan tshirts that suggest your little darling aspires to be a WAG, or better still suggests others “come get some of this” (I’ve been unable to find photo’s, I really should have taken some at the time). You can get provocative or suggestive wording on underwear for 4 and 5 year olds.

Some supermarkets sported lines of glittery belt like skirts for their under 10’s at christmas with crop tops displayed nearby.  Off the shoulder dresses complimented with faux fur shrug Why does a one/five/ten year old need to dress like a hooker anyway? Is this what is now meant by being a good girl for santa? *vomits*

And the worrying thing is that some parents support their little tramp princess wearing these things, as the alternative is for little Tabitha to be outcast by her peers for being unfashionable. Is this what parenting has boiled down to? Fear for their child not fitting in because they don’t dress like a prostitute? Do parents not instil any kind of self respect, self confidence or individuality in their children anymore? Is fitting in the be-all and end-all of childhood? Have parents forgotten how to say no?

As a lifelong social outcast, this terrifies me. I worry that the future for my child will be filled with uber-conformity and age-inappropriate clothing to ensure her peer acceptance.

There has been recent increasing media interest in the early sexualisation of children through Channel 4’s Stop Pimping Our Kids feature on the Sex Education Show and while perhaps their disgust is slightly over dramatic, the message is clear:

I’m not the only one who thinks pre-teens dressing like whores is in bad taste.

Yet a year ago, so-called feminist, Laurie Penny writing in the Guardian article above declared her outrage as,

“The pubescent padded bra has been hijacked by the faux-feminist family values brigade as a symbol of moral decline, along with the kiddie pole-dancing kit and the playboy bunny pencil case.”

Forgive me if I’m wrong but I don’t see the protection of young children from enforced sexuality, or premature adulthood and an attempt to retain their childhood as long as possible, as being a sign of the “faux-feminist family values brigade” harping on about moral decline.

I doubt anyone has any issues with pubescent girls wearing bra’s to support budding breasts but most pre-pubescent girls have as much need for a bra as pre-pubescent boys do for condoms.

Clearly this girl has no children, as her article doesn’t stretch to the compassion a parent has for protecting their child from harm. Its absolutely nothing to do with morals and everything to do with ensuring the innocence of childhood. I should also point out for the paedophile spotters, harm isn’t just threat of abuse from dirty old men in macs, but anything that seeks to negate childhood and experiences.

It seems childhood is a state some parents should no-longer wish for their child. We should dress them up as mini-me’s and send them off to work, which judging by the state of the clothing on sale suggests should be on the streets of the local red light district.

This is nothing to do with “class” as Penny often suggests in her articles where she disagrees with the opposing view, it’s child protection, which isn’t a class issue but a societal one.

Neither is it an moral crusade to smother a child’s attempts at discovering their own sexuality or as she crudely puts it in binary terms,

“girls need to be protected from erotic influence, while boys, presumably, are free to fiddle with themselves to their hearts’ content.”

But does a single-figure age child really need a pole-dancing kit and belt like skirt to discover that they own genitals or have complex feelings?  Conversely does removing said pole and lengthening the skirt really stop them from doing so?

Maturation is nature. It happens in its own time and not because of clothing or accessories. To break it down to such basic crudity, removes the significance of the whole experience.

Childhood should be about being a child and discovering the world around you. They have many many years ahead to discover themselves and their sexuality. Being a child shouldnt be about preparing for sexuality or sexual experiences.

I don’t believe children of any age should be sheltered from maturity appropriate sex education or the realities of procreation; and at a more appropriate emotional age, the pleasure aspects of sex and sexuality. However, there is a huge thick line between educational or emotional sex related issues and manipulating an entire generation through retail and the media to look and act like page 3 girls by age 8.

The former is responsible, the latter pimping our kids out to future Daily Mail articles and Nuts. Sexuality and sexualisation is a natural and important part of child to teen development but it shouldn’t be dictated by fashion or enforced by the media, it should be left to the individual at a time that’s right for them.

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