Petition targets ‘sinister’ and ‘sexually exploitative’ sign in Kent clothes shop

11 August 2017

Rebecca Rumsey

Action: the sign was covered and later removed by the store shortly after a petition was launched

Action: the sign was covered and later removed by the store shortly after a petition was launched

A FASHION store in Kent has taken down a sign reading “Send me nudes” less than 24 hours after a petition for its removal was launched by campaigners who said that it promoted the sexual exploitation of young women.

The sign was displayed in pink neon lights at the back of an outlet of Missguided — a clothes chain for teenage girls and young women — in Bluewater shopping centre, in Kent. It was seen by Rebecca Rumsey last week, while shopping with her 11-year-old daughter. Mrs Rumsey, who is married to the Team Rector of Oxted, the Revd Andrew Rumsey, told her friend Rachel Gardner, a youth worker and the President of Girls’ Brigade England & Wales.

The pair decided to launch a petition “Respect Girls More — Take Down Your Sign” on Sunday, expecting a few hundred signatures. By Monday evening, more than 8000 people had signed, and on Tuesday Missguided had promised to cover the display, before permanently removing it.

The petition said that creating, sending, or posting on social media nude images of children under the age of 18 was illegal in the UK. “Teenage girls feel under increasing pressure to create and send nude pictures of themselves,” it read. “Once online, these nude images can be seen and used by anyone, making girls and vulnerable young women the victims of bullying, revenge porn, and exploitation. Many of these nude images can even make their way to child-abuse websites.”

Rebecca RumseyMisguided?: the sign at the back of an outlet of Missguided — a clothes chain for teenage girls and young women — in Bluewater shopping centre, in Kent

By telling young women customers to “send nudes”, Missguided was “promoting a negative and damaging culture” of sexual coercion, it said, rather than “empowering young women” to value their individuality through fashion.

Ms Gardner thanked Missguided for heeding their campaign, and the signatories for their support, on Tuesday. She wrote on Twitter: “It was only a sign in a shop. But it was grim. Instead of shrugging it off we chose to resist. Thanks for being part of the change.”

Missguided has been by the Church Times contacted for comment.

Ms Gardner, who also volunteers with the Church Urban Fund programme Youthscape, said on Wednesday that the sign was not about empowering girls. “There was a very dark and sinister undertone to this particular message which absolutely had to be dealt with, but there are wider issues about the double standards surrounding the sexuality of young women and girls in society.”

Visit www.youthscape.co.uk or search #isitok? for more resources

 

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