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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019

No complaints about the sexualisation of children's clothes since new rules introduced

Since June 2012, just three complaints have been received by Retail Ireland.

A padded bra for young girls which got Primark into trouble three years ago.
A padded bra for young girls which got Primark into trouble three years ago.
Image: Jeff Moore/EMPICS Entertainment

SINCE INTRODUCING GUIDELINES for children’s clothing in 2012, Retail Ireland has received just three complaints about items on sale in Irish shops.

The guidelines were introduced as concerns grew about the sexualisation of childrenswear in 2011.

Following a request by then-Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald, Retail Ireland introduced the ‘responsible retailing of childrenswear’ to which 10 major outlets signed up to in June 2012.

Although the rules are voluntary and not restrictive, they provide information on appropriate style, slogans, age-appropriateness, size, labeling and marketing.

“I believe this code is now playing an important and constructive role in informing future decision-making by retailers and I am happy to report that the number of complaints regarding inappropriate childrenswear have fallen,” says current Minister Charlie Flanagan.

Steve Lynam, director of IBEC’s Retail Ireland, confirmed to that there have been no complaints about inappropriate clothing over the past 12 months.

Of the three received between 2012 and 2013, two related to non-member company outlets.

However, Lynam believes that the guidelines have inspired better practice for the whole sector, and not just the 10 retailers who have agreed to adhere to the rules.

“We very much see the guidelines as informing buyers of clothes at the companies. When they get it, the clothes that we were hearing about on Liveline etc., don’t make it to the shelves and it gets nipped in the bud.”

There has been a genuine and marked improvement since they were implemented.

Retail Ireland intends to launch even stronger guidelines this summer on an all-Ireland basis following work with the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.

Responding to a parliamentary question posed by Robert Troy, Minister Flanagan urged parents to continue to be vigilant about products and items in-store.

He commended the Irish Dancing Commission for the introduction of their rules to ban makeup, false lashes and tanning products for the face for those under 10 years old.

Flanagan also praised the hotels which refused to hold child beauty pageants last year.

“In the interests of children, they turned down the opportunity to make money.” he said. “They have to be congratulated for that.”

He added: “I share the deep distaste of colleagues for events such as child beauty pageants which are not at all appropriate for children.”

The Department of Children is currently reviewing how other countries deal with issues surrounding beauty pageants.

“I note that legislative proposals in France on banning pageants ran into difficulties in light of criticisms regarding the vagueness around the specifics of what types of events were addressed. Pageants can be labelled as ‘talent’ contests for example,” Flanagan explained.

The commissioned reports are expected to be published in the coming months.

READ: Heavy makeup, high heels and frilly dresses ‘inappropriate’ on pageant children

Poll: Would you enter your child in a beauty pageant?

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