Sweaty Betty has been forced to remove an image from its website after it was heavily criticised for ‘overly sexualising’ children.
The women’s activewear brand had a series of images showing young girls modelling a range of tropical print crop tops and leggings – but one particular picture left consumers feeling uneasy and was deemed ‘inappropriate’ by many on social media because of the ‘provocative’ poses of the children.
Th image in question has been removed from the retailer’s website, but was shared on social media by users criticising the brand.
One said, tweeting alongside the controversial picture: ‘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?’
A second said: ‘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’.
Another moaned: ‘This is wrong in so many ways. Way too provocactive, way too voyeuristic with the middle crotch shot. And WHY? Are we not YEARS past this for goodness sake. KEEP UP @sweatybetty’
While a fourth complained: ‘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?’
Kate Dale, strategic lead at Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign, told HuffPost UK she feels the image is ‘at best unhelpful, and at worst very worrying, in the way it portrays girls’.
‘Women come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of ability – it’s important that they don’t feel they have to look a certain way or wear certain clothes to be active,’ she added with concern it will put young girls off exercising.
Writing in a blog post on the company’s website before the photos were criticised, Sweaty Betty founder and mum-of-three Tamara Hill-Norton revealed that the children used in the images were in fact her two daughters, her niece and a model.
‘We shot the campaign for this with my two girls, my niece Esme and our model this season Penny Lane,’ she said. ‘This shoot is quite a step away from our usual more serious and active images, and it was incredible to see the girls all laughing together creating these really light hearted images.’
Tamara added: ‘Since I founded Sweaty Betty, our core values have always included empower women of all ages through fitness, so I knew I wanted to encourage teens to lead a more active lifestyle in a fun and playful way.’
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