Coalition to address children’s clothing

Posted on December 13th, 2010

A Government review overseen by Children’s Minister Sarah Teather will be considering whether it is appropriate to restrict certain types of clothing for children such as padded bras and porn star T-shirts. The Government has referred to the items as garments worn by children, but actually being clothing for young girls. I would support girls being children for as long as possible as rather than propelling them into an adult world where sexual identity is an important, complex issue relating to self-confidence and expression of oneself.

These young girls might receive pocket money, but do they catch the bus into town, heading for the shops to buy a porn star T-shirt or padded bra alone or with their friends or are they escorted to town in their parents’ cars, supervised by adults to purchase these items of clothing?  Is the simplest solution to the issue to not buy the offending items of clothing? It makes sense that retailers will not stock goods that the public do not want to buy. Young girls who do travel alone to buy porn star T-shirts alone all return home to the family and at some point will wear their new top. It might lead to a minor argument or sulk, but is it not the parents’ duty to ask their young daughter to change her T-shirt and then support her to exchange the item of clothing for something more suitable, all the while explaining the potential dangers of being labelled porn star in public?  I accept this may be an old fashion approach, but is there a need for padded bras from five/six years of age and if there is, where does the pressure to conform stem from?

I’m all for freedom to express oneself if it harms no one else in the process. However, one would consider that items that enhance the appearance in a sexual nature can only lead to the potential for increased sexual activity at a younger age.  The UK currently has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe and deals with issues relating to sexually transmitted infections. Is the message being sent by retailers and supported by parents that you need to be physically developed to be attractive and valued? If this is what is trying to be achieved, then there is also likelihood of an increase in plastic surgery to address young women’s unhappiness with their body image.

Retailers should not be targeted alone; there needs to be joint working with the media and parents.  The recent popular show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here presented American Playgirl Kayla undertaking tasks and trials in skimpy swim wear when they could have been completed in shorts and top, although maybe not so good for ratings. Pictures of Stacy Solomon and Myleene Klass showering in bikinis were all over the front of the newspapers and certainly propelled forward one young lady’s career modelling underwear for a large chain store. The point missed is that these two young women appear to be bright, pleasant and intelligent.

Government action will not reduce the sexualisation of young girls without the support of the media, retailers and most importantly the parents, who could all ensure products such as padded bras for young children are not worth the material they are made from.

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Breakdown the Reality

Posted on December 3rd, 2010

With the finals of I’m A Celebrity and the X Factor coming to a climax this weekend, some people will be relieved to no longer be watching a group of people chasing fame.  Whether some contestants are talented is left to the viewer’s interpretation of what they are shown and creates debate amongst friends, households and work colleagues.  The trend within these programmes is an apparent growing demand to see contestants have a breakdown.  Week after week on the X Factor Katie Waissel publicly fought to remain in the show and keep her dreams alive. This young woman was the subject of an Internet hate campaign and press coverage about her grandmother’s life as a prostitute; adding pressure to a person who appeared only too willing to be exposed to various situations that could destroy her sense of self worth.

Like most things the taste of fame comes at a price and only time will tell whether the future will be kind to people like X Factor contestant Cher Lloyd who again looks close to breaking down if her dream is not realised by the public vote. Although, this young person is being championed by Cheryl Cole so may receive a recording contract whether she wins or not. The cost of success to Cher, who appears frail in body and mind, could be expensive in an industry known for its shadowy world of drugs and partying.  Personally I find watching people like Cher and Katie unbearable; seeing people publicly fall apart is not enjoyable and makes for uncomfortable viewing.  The answer may be to switch off the TV or leave the room; although to ‘keep up’ I realise that knowing the ins and outs about the latest X Factor evictee is almost essential when communicating with teenagers.

Maybe a contestant’s temperament and state of mind should be assessed before being allowed to enter a talent show with rich rewards or is this very thought a violation of their human rights?   In the case of Britain’s Got Talent runner up Susan Boyle, who gave clear indicators for the start that she had mental health issues.  Susan left people speechless with her singing and constantly wondering whether how she was going to cope live on stage. Susan’s choice to entertain certainly seems to have paid off at the moment bearing in mind she is currently hailed as a major recording artist, breaking records previously held by The Beatles.   All this comes with a price though; there have been ‘residential rests’ for Susan in well known clinics frequented by celebrities when she was found to be suffering from exhaustion.  But who is to say these might have happened without the fame?  Is the important point that Ms Boyle appears happy with her new lifestyle?

I can’t help but think about the hidden affects on family members of contestants such as Gillian McKeith’s daughters.  They watched their mother’s physical and emotional breakdown in the jungle for the sake of her earning cash.  Parts of the media have accused her of ‘fake fainting’ and members of the public voted for her to continuously complete trails which they knew she would fail.  How ironic that the sight of Gillian crumpled on the floor was seen to be more ‘entertaining’ than watching Olympic medallist Linford Christie completing a gruesome task. Gillian’s children are allegedly educated at home due to bullying and dare I suggest that their situation will not be improved by their mother’s antics in the jungle in front of millions.  Gillian refers to herself as a doctor, yet it was previous X Factor contestant Stacey Solomon who thought through the scenario and suggested Gillian leave the show for the sake of her own health, which was ignored.

Emotionally frail contestants certainly raise viewing figures, but for me they make unpleasant television.

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