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Minister welcomes industry concerns over children's clothing and sexualisation

Frances Fitzgerald recently invited Irish fashion retailers to prepare a set of guidelines aimed at addressing “increasing concerns over the sexualisation of childhood and issues such as body-image”.

Image: Pavel L Photo and Video via Shutterstock

THE MINISTER FOR Children and Youth Affairs has welcomed the “very determined interest and initiative” shown by retailers which have taken steps to adopt a new code regarding children’s clothing.

Frances Fitzgerald recently invited Irish fashion retailers to prepare a set of guidelines aimed at addressing “increasing concerns over the sexualisation of childhood and issues such as body-image”.

The Minister told TheJournal.ie that the industry-led guidelines include a number of key points:

  • Slogans and imagery must be age appropriate and not sexually suggestive, demeaning or derogative;
  • The choice of fabrics and cut in childrenswear should provide for modesty;
  • Great care should be shown when it comes to the design of children’s underwear, to differentiate it from adult lingerie;
  • Swimwear should provide for modesty, and should be age appropriate;
  • Footwear for everyday use should provide a stable, supporting shoe with a heel pitch (angle of foot) of generally not more than 2.5 cm or one inch;
  • The marketing of childrenswear should be targeted at adult purchasers, not children;
  • The use of child models is only appropriate within defined parameters.

The guidelines have been taken up by Retail Ireland and its member stores, with signatories including Arnotts, Brown Thomas, Clerys, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Marks & Spencers, Next, Pennys, Tesco and TK Maxx.

While Dunnes Stores is not a signatory, it has responded directly to Minister
Fitzgerald indicating that it is “in compliance with best practice”.

Today, the Minister repeated her call for all Irish childrenswear retailers, not just those in Retail Ireland membership, to sign-up to the guidelines.

“Irish childhood has changed and continues to change. We all have a responsibility to make sure that those changes are positive for our children,” she said. “I believe this code will play an important and
constructive role in informing future decision-making by retailers, for example on the appropriateness of new and emerging fashion trends for children while further providing a framework within which retailers can responsibly consider and respond to growing concerns over body-image among children.”

Additional reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

Read: Penneys, M&S, Tesco and more sign up to code on children’s clothes
Read: Wal-Mart, Disney clothes found in Bangladesh fire

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