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Missguided sign controversy: A sad reflection of what society has normalised | Camilla Olim

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Camilla Olim comments on fashion store Missguided's shop sign saying 'Send me nudes'. The sign was taken down this week following complaints.

 

This week, fashion chain Missguided agreed to take down a neon sign displayed in two of their stores, following thousands of complaints from outraged parents.

Missguided, a clothing store aimed at young women and teenagers, had put up a pink neon sign in their Stratford Westfield and Trafford Park stores. And what was the offending sign?

"Send me nudes".

A petition in protest was set up by President of Girls' Brigade England and Wales Rachel Gardener, and signed by over 8,000 people.

The petition read:

"Teenage girls feel under increasing pressure to create and send nude pictures of themselves.

"NSPCC report says teenage girls are most adversely affected by the sexting culture.

"Once online, these nude images can be seen and used by anyone, making girls and vulnerable young women the victims of bullying, revenge porn and exploitation.

"Many of these nude images can even make their way to child abuse websites.

"It is illegal in the UK for nude images of under 18's to be created, sent and shared.

"'Send me Nudes' legitimises the culture of sexual coercion that teenage girls and young women experience daily.

"In posting 'Send me nudes' in their store, Missguided are promoting a negative and damaging culture.

"Instead, they should be empowering young women to value their intrinsic value and express their uniqueness through the art of fashion.

"So we are calling on Missguided to respect girls and take down their sign."

These are all pertinent points emphasising the devastating impact of the message, literally flashing neon, targeted at every woman who entered those two stores.

The sign has now been taken down.

Missguided was contacted for comment but so far has provided none.

What the company does say on its website, though, is this:"Forget the struggle, our mission to empower females is real."

The hypocrisy is staggering.

The Oxford Dictionary offers this definition of 'empowerment':

1.authority or power given to someone to do something.

2. the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights.

So what does empowerment look like? Based on this definition, it's power. Strength. Confidence. Autonomy.

Does sending nudes make you powerful and autonomous? It seems to me that the one in possession of a nude digital image, is the one holding the power. The power to devalue, to debase and exploit. To callously share the image all over the internet.

Does sending nudes make you strong? Bowing to pressure to satisfy someone else's demands in return for affirmation is a sign of weakness, not strength. Strength is standing out, even if it means standing alone. Strength is saying 'no' because your 'yes' is to greater things.

Does sending nudes make you confident? True confidence is freedom from seeking validation – particularly superficial and skin-deep validation - from others.

Missguided is playing into the insecurities and pressures placed upon young girls to make a profit. This is not new; advertising has been doing it for decades. But it is still to be deplored.

Worse, it is a sad reflection of our culture's flagrant celebration of things that cause devastation in their wake: Promiscuity, pornography, and underage sex and sexualisation.

In March last year, an investigation by The Times discovered that since 2012, 1,218 children from 50 secondary schools had been caught in incidents of so-called 'sexting'. More than a third of all 'sexting' cases involved children aged 12 and 13.

And only this week, it emerged that children as young as five are being expelled from school for sexual offences.

These kinds of horrors can be attributed to the normalisation of porn and subsequently, sexting of the kind promoted by Missguided.

Fashion chains should be taking a degree of moral responsibility for the kinds of messages they are sending to their target consumer.

Missguided listened to the concerns expressed and backtracked on the sign, demonstrating that it is worth speaking out. We should celebrate this victory.

But the fact that such a sign was ever created reinforces the sad truth: The fashion industry does not care about your wellbeing or even your safety. It only cares about your money lining their pockets.

We need to take seriously the need to ground children in a firm sense of their God-given value. If we don't, they will try and find value elsewhere, and our culture does not care that it is selling them a lie. 

 

Related Links:
Porn blamed as pupils as hundreds of pupils aged as young as five are excluded from school for sex offences (Daily Mail)
Sexting investigation leads to calls for compulsory education 
P
rotesting porn in public | Camilla Olim

 

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