Blog of Feminist Activism

The feminist activism of charliegrrl and co

Next Sexualising Young Girls

Posted by charliegrrl on May 18, 2007

Here are two adverts in the shop window of the high street clothes shop, Next. I was shocked when I saw these images in the shop window. To me they portray these young girls in a sexualised way. For the girl on the right, her facial expression and air perplexes me. What is her facial expression saying..?




12 Responses to “Next Sexualising Young Girls”

  1. Bea said

    The girl in the pink top has a deadened expression on her face and the way her head is unaturally tilted to one side makes her look like a doll. She is looking straight into the camera and when displayed in a shop window she will be looking straight at any man passing her. She will interact with any man that watches her. The blankness of her expression allows men to project their own desires onto her and the doll-like deadness takes denies her a personhood and the right to say ‘no’.

  2. emma said

    The striking thing about these is how posed they are. If you look at the pictures most people take of their kids they will usually be totally unselfconscious of the camera and just having fun. It looks like the photographer has tried to make these pre teenage girls look like older fashion models, but the effect is alarming and looks completely unnatural.

  3. eilidh70 said

    Both pictures are projecting a much older image than the age of the models. The one of the girl in the pink top is particularly disturbing because her expression seems to be a combination of numbness/knowingness that’s way too old for her.

  4. tcupnewt said

    Hmm… do you mind if I say that I don’t quite see it? I agree that (especially the one on the left) is highly posed but I can’t quite see how it’s sexualised. Yes- she’s wearing a tank top but it’s appropriate for what they’re selling which is summer beachwear, and hell, where I grew up little girls would always run around without tops on in the summer. On the right, whilst I see the “dollness” argument I see that more as the result of a dull photograph where the young model hasn’t been directed to portray any specific emotion and is just staring straight at the camera. Is that sexualised? Am I off the beat here?

  5. I think the image on the right is subtle in its sexualisation as its all in the facial expression. She is posing as beautiful, with her hair wafting in the wind, with a knowingness that she is beautiful- but as an object, which is disturbing. Her pose is one that you see regularly in adult women, staring into the camera with an air of independance, vacancy and unavailability. I think what Emma says is right, in that such young girls should be unselfconscious when being photographed- but these photos are so posed reflecting poses similar to adult women models, with their bodies as objects. What were the photographers saying to these young girls to get them to pose like this?

    As for the girl in the bikini top- it is shaped to cup breasts- except she doesn’t have breasts cos she’s pre-pubescent, so the garment is simulating adult female swimwear. Also she is jutting out her hip to one side, and looking to the ground in a stylised pose of innocence.

  6. There is nothing ‘childlike’ as in having childlike fun – in these images what so ever. They are poised and contrived to appeal to an adult version of attractiveness. In my eyes they are promoting that little girls look, dress and poise as adults. They are mimicking the patriarchal image of grown-up women.

  7. Richie said

    There was a similar image in an Australian kids’ catalogue a few years back that caused a lot of controversy. She was nine and had this full-on “come hither” look. It was in the news a fair bit, so I’ll see if I can dig up a copy.

  8. Richie said

    I couldn’t. But here’s a good post on the same subject at the the brilliant Australian blog Hoyden About Town.

    And while I’m plugging all things Aus, here’s a transcript from Insight, which I guess is technically a “talk show”, even though it’s nothing like any of the images “talk show” brings to mind. This episode is called “Bratz, Bras and Tweens” and puts the material in a wider cultural context.

    Sorry if this went off topic a bit. The girl in pink scares me.

  9. tcupnewt said

    Ah, cool I see it now. I guess it’s just the word sexualised springs up images of toy pole dancing kits and Bratz- which is all happening so yeah… It’s like not seeing the ocean cause I’m in the water. You’ve all said it better than me; though I still hesitate to label it as the girls trying to be sexy, but trying to be adult and the only “adult” we have happens to be sexy. But maybe that all comes back to the same thing.

  10. polyestergirl said

    ah, richie, living in australia i know exactly which photograph you are speaking of. kind of scary isnt it. you know, young girls have always enjoyed dressing up because children are innocent creatures and are supposed to be naive.the dangerous thing about this is not the type of fashion these girls are wearing but the way the photographer has decided to portray the girls.this photo display is merely cashing in on the whole “raunch culture” thing that is being targeted at young girls, because the are vulnerable they are the perfect market.children are not naturally sexual, this type of exploitation is leading more and more pedofile’s into believing that children are sex objects and their attraction to children is normal physiacally, mentally and socially.what social irresponsibility!

  11. polyestergirl said

    actually, this brings up something that i have been reading about with great interest in the papers(by aussie journo Miranda Devive)about how paedofilia is becoming more and more socially acceptable. in court, lawyers will defend their clients by suggesting that child pornography is somehow a victimless crime! and has anyone seen taht movie The History Boys. critics all around the world are giving the film very high acclaim, but forget to mention that the film is about child sexual abuse(many argue that it isnt because the boys involved are “willing participants”), promotes misogyny and presents a paedofile(the teacher)as being some kind of likeable character and hero. do we see a connection anywhere. the normalisation of the sexualisation of children in the media is warping peoples view on child abuse, child pornography and pedofilia.i really do believe that it is about time that somebody really brings these issues to light. otherwise imagine what future children’s clothing campaignes will look like (that ad for men’s wear comes to mind…)

  12. Rachel H-G said

    They are mimicking adult models’ poses a bit too well for it to be comfortable viewing. There’s something subtly not-quite-right.
    Young girls do enjoy pretending to be adults, but when they are encouraged to do it by actual adults, it’s a bit creepy.

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