Shape Up, Kiddo.

Aah, summer!  I love it, love it, love it!  Only some vast cosmic mistake/conspiracy caused me to be born somewhere so far north as the UK, with its annoyingly unpredictable summers and yakky wet, cold winters (ack, damp feet? Kill me now!).  I am sunshine, me.  Delete said vast cosmic mistake/conspiracy and I would have been born in the south of France which is where we de-camp to every summer for long, hot days at the beach, midday naps, chilled vino and saying, Christ, it’s too hot to do anything…the utter impossibility of doing anything meaning doing nothing becomes, ipso facto, guilt-free.

Boogie loves it at the beach.  She’s five.  The beach is just one huge soft play area with surfing facilities.  She does the whole shebang:  splashing, boogie-boarding, swimming, sand-castling, rock-pooling, dune-rolling, beach tennis, sand football and occasional impressions of Olivia (the pig) when she lies down until she turns pink (curse that almost-translucent Scottish skin!).  And she does it all in whatever swimsuit happened to be dry that morning, uncombed hair and (too often to really confess to), the remains of that morning’s pain au chocolat smeared around her cheeks and (god, OK, it happens sometimes – I did say it was too hot to do anything, OK?) unbrushed teeth.

It seems, however, that Boogie better get her shit together. Because in less than three years, she is apparently supposed to show up at the beach looking like this.  She has, it’s safe to say, some way to go.  She doesn’t even own a wig and her eyeliner skills are patchy at best, without the added trickiness of it being water-proof, and whilst she has plenty of ‘tude poses, she as yet has none that go anywhere near the come-hither stare and snog me pout that’ll be summer’s hot items when she’s all of seven or eight.  Jesus, it takes her long enough to get ready in the mornings as it is.  If she’s got to apply three shades of eyeshdow (and blend! blend! blend!), we’ll make it sea-side by about lunchtime.

Who does this?  Who creates these images and thinks, goodness, what a lovely way to portray small children?  Who?  Who?  Yes, yes, I know in this particular instance it was a swimwear manufacturer, but I mean, on a deeper level, who are these people?  Lots of commenters on Pigtail Pals accuse the creators of paedophilia, but if only it was that simple.  I shake my head and look away, but I confess, I don’t understand it at all.  We live in a world where women everywhere are doing their damnedest to look like girls but we still can’t actually leave girls to look like girls because, well, that would be leaving some group of females in relative peace and we can’t have that, can we?  Fuck no.  We have to take girls and make ‘em look like twenty year old Playboy covers.

What’s the betting the boy models weren’t treated to the addition of creeping back hair and a stick-on bald spot?

About MistressofBoogie

Feminist. Loud-mouth. Sometimes those two are linked. Sometimes not. View all posts by MistressofBoogie

6 responses to “Shape Up, Kiddo.

  • Melissa Wardy

    Love this post! Thanks for asking the hard questions, as I too have a really difficult time understanding how in the hell people find this appropriate. As a few of the comments on my blog clearly showed, we have a long way to go before general society understands that the sexualization of children is a matter of social justice, and that we all need to come together to protect childhood agains the marketers and corporations that have commodified their little bodies.

    I think my non-hairbrushing, ocean loving, wild child 5yo girl would have a grand time at the beach with Boogie. Long live childhood!

  • mistressofboogie

    Thanks for the comment. I really don’t understand how people can look at something like this and not at least feel some vague sense of unease, even if they can’t quite put their finger on why. I see it and it screams wrong! wrong! to me. You’re right, though, it’s marketing and corporations who are driving all of it.

    Love your site!

  • Mary Sunshine

    Who’s doing it? Men and boys. Don’t like the answer? Too bad. It’s the truth.

  • Mistress of Boogie

    If only the truth was that simple. Whilst it’s undoubtedly true that men created and run the culture that creates this stuff, this particular instance of marketing was – if not actually created by a woman – approved, endorsed, and is being defended by, a woman. Of the commenters on Pigtail Pals defending the ads, most of those were (apparently) also women. Woman-hating is never confined to men; plenty of women get sucked in, too.
    If anything, it’s the women I find most confusing. Hetero men clearly can find a sex interest in these kinds of pictures (to a greater or lesser extent); but what do hetero women get out of it? Aah-ing over the next generation of the sex-class seems too slim a ‘reward’.

  • Mary Sunshine

    what do hetero women get out of it?

    What they get is approval and status. The more conforming females are to the ever increasingly female-hating norm, the “safer” they are in terms of social acceptance. Women are terrified of being seen as disobedient to male prescriptions.

  • Mistress of Boogie

    Yes, I think you’re right, that makes sense to me. Thanks for that.

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