The launch of the latest WitcheryKids clothes for children has caused an outcry among parents and experts alike. The clothes are being marketed at children from toddler age up to tweens.
Australian actress and ambassador for Barnardos, Noni Hazlehurst has spoken out against the growing adultification of children’s clothing within the fashion industry. She said that young children were being pressured into growing up too quickly, and their innocence needed protecting.
“They look like recalcitrant teenagers, I think this is a really dangerous direction,” she said.
“I think its offensive. The whole point of early childhood is to be joyous and free. Children as young as five are now going on diets, are worried about how they look, how they present – this just should not be an issue for children”.
She added the issues needed to be discussed more in the community and parents needed to be “incredibly careful about what their children are exposed to”.
Author of “What is Happening to Our Girls?” and Generation Next speaker, Maggie Hamilton said “In a few short years our girls have become vulnerable – not just teen girls, but also young girls and baby girls. They are being forced to grow up faster than ever before. What a twelve-year-old girl experienced at seven is not what a seven-year-old girl is now struggling with.”
She added “Many of the guidelines we offer girls no longer apply, or are contradicted by messages from media and advertising telling girls how to look, think, behave and feel.”
Many child advocates including Kids Free 2B Kids Director Julie Gale were outraged by the clothing range, which depicted children posing and looking like adults. Ms Gale wrote to WitcheryKids saying:
“While your philosophy states that ‘WitcheryKids is playful and real’ – the images do not portray kids in a ‘playful’ or ‘real’ way… rather they are posed and styled as brooking precocious teenagers.
They are not smiling or joyful or having ‘fun’ – which seems at odds with your belief that ‘fun and imagination are at the centre of every child’s universe’.
Your philosophy states that your ranges reflect this fun – but your catalogue images certainly don’t.
Your range is for 2-9 year olds and your philosophy says that ‘Witchery Kids is for kids who want and know how to choose clothes that express their personality and desire for independence’.
Latest research shows that younger children are experiencing increased body image problems, eating disorders, anxiety and depression as a result of pressure to grow up too quickly… and for obsessing about their appearance.
However in a statement Witchery insisted that “The majority of feedback…regarding our campaign and product range has been very positive.”
Complaints can be made directly to Witchery by contacting WitcheryKids at [email protected]