Earlier today, I was horrified when I saw these Tweets pop up on my timeline:
Seriously @sweatybetty who signed this off? I love your products, but I can't buy from you again if you think this is an appropriate way to present kids clothes. Bad enough that adult women are expected to be sexy whilst exercising but now kids too? pic.twitter.com/moDaDHfAY7
— Becca Johns ⚡️ (@thebeccajohns) May 14, 2018
Disappointed by this Lolita style photoshoot from @sweatybetty feels really overly sexualised, particularly the girl in the centre with her legs spread I normally love their shoots pic.twitter.com/QJl3N25gWs
— Kathryn Tyler (@kathryntylerDM) May 12, 2018
Needless to say, I was disgusted.
Oh my gosh, @sweatybetty what are you thinking? I would love to hear what @Womeninsport_uk and @ThisGirlCanUK think of this? Unncessary sexualisation is bad enough, sexualising a kids range is even worse. What sort of message does this send out? https://t.co/Fb15mgrqBD
— Helen TamblynSaville (@helentamblyn) May 14, 2018
To be quite honest, I was left lost for words. I have now emailed Sweaty Betty the following email:
Dear Sweaty Betty
I want to start this email by stating that I am generally a fan of your brand. The clothing is well made and stylish and I generally love the positivity that oozes from your brand.
That said, I was disgusted today when I saw on Twitter the images from your current Mini-Me Edit for teen leggings. It is completely and utterly inappropriate to sexualise young girls in this manner in the name of selling sportswear.
Your “About Us” section says the following:
“On a mission to empower women through fitness and beyond, Sweaty Betty is on hand for the woman who works out hard and plays harder.”
Please correct me if I’m wrong, but sexualising teenage girls to sell leggings is not empowering women through fitness. It is bad enough that grown women think they have to be seen as “sexy” to take part in sport and fitness. It’s incredibly irresponsible for any brand, let alone one that claims to empower women, to present clothing to impressionable young girls in this way.
It is advertising campaigns like this that reinforce negative gender stereotypes and contribute to low self-worth and self-esteem. This type of campaign reinforces the thinking in young girls that women are there to be sexy and attractive, instead of equals.
There is nothing wrong in wanting to feel good in your clothing. However, you have missed the mark with this one in producing what is essentially a glamour magazine shot starring young girls.
I would be interested in hearing your reasoning for this campaign and if at any point nobody stopped to consider how inappropriate the images are. I would like to see these removed and replaced with more age appropriate images, as well as a published apology for getting this so badly wrong.
You may be interested to hear that in the UK, the age at which girls start dropping out of sport is just 8 year old. Reasons for this include insecurities about body image. This campaign contributes to that.
Sweaty Betty – on a mission to empower, or on a mission to sexualise our teenage daughters, nieces and sisters?
Is it my best written email? Far, far from it. I wish I could have put my points across in a more articulate manner. But you know that feeling when you are left so angry you are left lost for words? This is it.
And for those of you who say it doesn’t matter?
Then you are part of the problem.
I will let you know if I receive a response.
UPDATE 15/5/18: Seems this has now picked up traction on social media and the Independent have reported on the problem. I have had a Facebook response from SB directing me to their blog post on why they decided to introduce teen leggings. I’m not complaining about the range. I’m complaining about the lolita style imagery. Unfortunately, it seems they’ve missed the point and dismissed it as a bit of fun. I will update if I receive the further response I’ve asked for.
FURTHER UPDATE 15/5/18: The worst of the images has been very quietly removed from the website.