Monday, February 20, 2012

Sexed up tween advertising shows fashion needs to grow up

'Corporate paedophilia' is a worrying global trend on the rise.

For those who might have missed it, Witchery has just launched a new clothing range for eight- to 14-year-old girls called "8fourteen". In a brilliant stroke of imagination, the launch occurred on Valentine's Day – because, of course, girls from the age of eight need to understand that male romantic approval, and attracting it through your physical appearance (euphemistically termed "personal style"), is what really matters in life.

The advertising campaign presents two girls from Sydney, aged 11 and 12, as "little sisters" to Australia's Next Top Model Montana Cox, aged 18. Leaving aside some leopard print, the clothing range itself appears to be mainly age-appropriate (although, curiously, this isn't well indicated in the campaign). The list of "facts" presented about each girl appears unobjectionable enough (about which, more later). The accompanying films of the girls, however, artistically shot in black and white with acoustic music, made us gasp.

The overall mood is romantic, but the moves, and how they are cut together, gave us the creeps. The girls pout and smile, twist and turn in front of the cameras to display their faces and their bodies. "Oh, but they're displaying the clothes!" comes the reply. Yeah, right. They wear only one outfit each.

It's not just the "It's all about me" feel of the thing. It's the "I love to be looked at" and the "make love to the camera" messages. How can the footage not be referencing a male viewer?

The "sexualisation" of girls for the purpose of selling products has been condemned worldwide for several years now as a form of "corporate paedophilia". The Witchery campaign certainly shows signs of this problem.

Meanwhile, there is an even more worrying global trend towards mainstream business getting involved in the production and sale of pornified images of children. Keep reading

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