PADDED bikini tops, revealing party dresses and skirts that barely cover their bottoms – these are just some of the items being advertised for girls as young as eight by fashion retailer Shein.
As a mum to two daughters, Olive, six, and Ivy, three, it’s a shock to see these inappropriate clothes advertised to little lasses.
SheinA tasteless photo shows a young Shein model wearing a green bodycon dress with a dipping neckline[/caption]
SheinCrass – a little girl poses in Shein clothing[/caption]
COLLECTConcerned mum Lynsey Hope and daughter Olive[/caption]
Even more disturbing is the fact these skimpy outfits are modelled provocatively, in poses you might expect from a glamour model.
There’s a girl who looks about six pouting and popping her leg, another twiddling her, and tweens with hands on hips, cocking their heads.
The idea of my little ones posing like that makes me shudder.
I spotted the clothing this week while browsing the site, and it has now appeared as targeted advertising on my social media.
My friend, also mum to a six-year-old, was horrified when she was presented on Instagram with a Shein ad of a little girl, aged about seven, in a scoop-necked green velvet dress posed to look like she had breasts.
The inappropriate attire was promoted the same month high street favourite H&M was forced to pull an advert in Australia showing girls in school uniform, as it “sexualised children”.
Under the fashion giant’s image of the primary school pupils in pinafore dresses was the caption: “Make those heads turn in H&M’s Back to School fashion” and, quite rightly, it caused uproar online.
And sexualising kids is exactly what these Shein clothes are doing at a time the company is performing increasingly well — currently they are the UK’s 11th largest apparel retailer and expected to rise to the sixth by 2027.
It makes me queasy.
The girls modelling many of the “tween” clothes, which appear to cover the age group of eight to 14, are wearing styles which should only be seen on adult women, often showing midriff and loads of leg.
Typing “tween swimwear” into the search box on Shein’s website, only four of the first 17 items shown appear not to have padding.
This is disgraceful.
A little girl certainly does not need to worry about bumping up her bra size with a bit of foam.
The only concerns she should have are perfecting her monkey bars technique and deciding which is her favourite Squishmallow toy.
Why do big businesses like Shein insist on making children grow up so fast?
It is not the first time inappropriate clothing for girls has been an issue.
In 2010, Primark came under fire for selling padded bikinis to seven-year-olds.
The tops, which came in candywith gold stars or black and white polka dots, were pulled from stores after the high street chain was accused of encouraging the sexualisation of young girls.
Tesco was also condemned for selling padded bras to eight-year-olds in 2008.
Yet, over a decade later, when I search for a dress for my eldest and gymnastics-mad six-year-old, the things I am served up are STILL excessively short.
How would she run around in these restrictive garments or climb a tree? You know, like little girls are supposed to do.
It must stop now.
In 2010, parenting website Mumsnet launched their Let Girls Be Girls campaign to let retailers know parents do not want their children offered products which “prematurely sexualise” them.
Mumsnet makes a valid point — not only are the clothes too grown-up, but photographers or directors are getting these girls to pose in an improper manner.
That’s exactly what I think when looking at the Shein advert of the ruched front, velvet dress.
The girl has hands on hips and the top has a neckline that dips where a cleavage would be — if she wasn’t primary school age.
The Shein item of clothing that makes me feel the most uncomfortable is a £6.49 one-piece swimsuit.
On the website, the little girl is on her knees in the sand posing like an influencer — why would an advertising department or photographer ever think this was alright?
And what message does it send to kids browsing their products?
Estelle Keeber, a children’s photographer and founder of online training company immortalmonkey. co.uk, does not understand how these photos are produced.
‘Let girls be girls’
“Unfortunately, images such as these are becoming more and more common when it comes to brands sharing provocative images of children,” she says.
“I’m a family shoot photographer, and I often get little girls trying to pose like adults when they come to shoots.
“This is because of what they are seeing in ads and they want to replicate.
“With a little direction and encouragement, they are soon posing like little girls again and I’m happily capturing images the parents can treasure.
“Aside from the clothing and provocative poses, many of the expressions are sad looking and the deliberate pout seems out of place in a children’s clothing ad.
“Children should be shown having fun, confident and comfortable in a brand’s clothing, not sexy and sultry, that’s an adult domain.
“As a parent, it’s alarming these images are not vetted prior to being allowed into the public domain.”
“The end of primary school and the beginning of secondary school is when children lay down the foundations of how they view themselves,” she explains.
“Photos like this encourage them to view themselves not as a person with a brain and a personality, or someone with a body that works well and is healthy, but as an object that is to be viewed by others and sexualised.
“This can become their understanding of themselves and what they feel is important.
“In the long term, research shows viewing yourself like this can lead to issues in later life, including eating disorders, risk-taking behaviour and difficulties in relationships.
“If girls are seen in this way, they are a visual object rather than human beings.”
Dr Smart adds: “We need to let girls be girls and teach young people about sex through education and experience at the correct developmental stages, not through clothes.”
This hits home the grim reality.
I certainly don’t want my daughters growing up to think the most important quality they need is “sexiness” instead of cleverness, sportiness or ambition.
It is depressing to know girls are being groomed at tender ages to fit into a culture where women are little more than objects and their value lies in how they look to boys and men.
Children should absolutely not be viewed as sexually available — which is the uncomfortable message these outfits are serving up.
The sad fact is that parents must be buying these clothes.
This shopping will cause momentum and it will become the norm for young girls to wear revealing attire at a younger and younger age.
The Advertising Standards Authority is now aware of my concerns about the inappropriateness of these items and the way young girls are asked to pose.
Any clothing retailer advertising specifically to UK consumers falls within their remit and must follow their rules.
That means the ASA can ban ads if they don’t comply.
Shein were asked to comment, but declined.
It may sound mean but, if you are buying these clothes, you are not doing your job as a parent.
You are supposed to be protecting your little ones, not sending them into the world inappropriately dressed.
Retailers such as Shein have a responsibility to ensure children grow up valuing themselves for more than how they look.
Bosses must take action now, they must remove these clothes from their site — or they risk damaging our kids forever.
SheinSexualising kids is exactly what these Shein clothes are doing at a time the company is performing increasingly well[/caption]
SheinThe sad fact is that parents must be buying these clothes[/caption]
SheinChildren should absolutely not be viewed as sexually available — which is the uncomfortable message these outfits are serving up[/caption]Fashion – Latest Style News And Fabulous Trends | The Sun