We’re just advertising clothes, honest!

Right. Sure you are, Fred Bare, and if you’ve still got this catalogue online next week I’ll be amazed.[UPDATE Monday 16th October: the catalogue images are no longer online. FURTHER UPDATE Jan 2007: the catalogue is back online but modified] This relates to yesterday’s post on the Australia Institute’s Corporate Paedophilia report, and I’ve already posted this link over at LP in that thread, but it’s about 50 comments in.

The clothes themselves aren’t too bad, although there’s more emphasis on the will-be-a-bust-one-day area than I am comfortable with in the detailing, and some of the low neckline/spaghetti strap combinations seem unnecessarily revealing. The poses are appalling. This pic below is one of less than a handful in the catalogue of girls actually posed in a kid pose rather than come-hither lingerie-model poses.

Compare to this UK catalogue shot of kids clothing – kid’s hair-style, no mascara/lip gloss and no sexualised pose, even though the theme of the shoot is “How to make a Love Potion”.

Let kids be kids, for goodness sake.

Categories: gender & feminism, relationships

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26 replies

  1. It’s the poses that do it, really. Fine with a 17 yo, but here…
    It’s a bit Jodie Foster in that child pro movie.

  2. As Zoe said yesterday, the author of the report thinks that a big contributor is photographers and stylists who are used to adult models and just don’t think about whether posing pretty prepubescent girls in the same way is appropriate. I think that’s a very good point.
    I called Fred Bare’s contact number to be told they don’t have a complaints person, so I had to talk to whoever the chap was who answered the phone, who shared with me the startling information that I was entitled to my opinion and that it was a free country.
    Sounds like someone who’s never done a PR course, which sounds like such a good idea for a major fashion company. The contact details in question are:
    PLEASE PHONE :+61 2 9669 1711

    As for the photographer:
    Art Direction & Photography:
    WENDELL TEODORO – T-bone Media

  3. Did you see the wrap on the 7.30 Report last night? Worth taking a look at their transcripts.

  4. Some people have too much spare time. Really get over it!
    I have had some experience in this industry and I suggest some more people do as well. Fred Bare are a family run and ORIENTED company, they would never do this to children. To those critics out there – GET A LIFE and start living it!

  5. Goodness me, a shrill shill has arrived.
    The whole point of the report is that there has been a creeping normalisation of the images of children in sexualised poses and fashions, so that people are unintentionally following the trend. Do I think Fred Bare intended to sexualise the children in these advertising photos? No. Do I think it’s happening inadvertently anyway? Yes.
    Thanks for the tip on the 7:30 report, elsewhere. Nice contrast of the various opinions [transcript]

  6. Some people have too much spare time. Really get over it!
    I have had some experience in this industry and I suggest some more people do as well. Fred Bare are a family run and ORIENTED company, they would never do this to children. To those critics out there – GET A LIFE and start living it!

    Standard retort. You got an actual, y’know, argument?

  7. The 7:30 report take on it was interesting. I’m so not a fan of Catherine Lumby and think she really has her head in the sand on these issues but I also think that we have to be careful to moderate the backlash. Something needs to be done about this issue, clearly, and whilst I agree with the basis of the report, I also think some of the images that were pointed too were reaching in the “sexualised children” claim*. However I do think that it will get worse as it becomes more normalised and there needs a measured response to avoid that.
    *The above catalogue is obviously not included in this camp.

  8. Tig tog, Im a bit confused when you say that the clothing is revealing. What exactly are the clothes revealing???? these little girls are just that – little girls – they have nothing to reveal.
    If anyone sees anything sexual about these pics in the catalogue have the problem not the people who have created them or designed these clothes.
    You say that the pics inadvertently sexualise young girls, by drawing attention to what otherwise are perfectly innocent pics is inadvertantly sexualising the girls.
    I understand and agree that some childrenswear steps over the boundaries, trashy role models like Britts and Paris are to blame not a tasteful and quality label like Fred Bare.

  9. I went into much more detail in the previous post, to which I linked in the first paragraph above.
    Have a read and see if that gets you a better idea of where I’m coming from.

  10. We love fred bare here. Its stylish without being trashy like bratz and a lot of other childrens clothes on the market. As for revealing, I have many photos of me as a child in the 70s that could be considered way worse and nobody thought there was a problem with those clothes.

  11. I don’t particularly have a problem with most of the clothes, which I used to buy for my kids when they were younger. I don’t mind kids showing a bit of comfortably bare skin. But why pose most of the girls in the catalogue in poses more suited to Page 3 babes?
    The marketing is much more the issue in this case than the product itself. It’s the ad agencies, who have much less invested in user satisfaction with the product, who drive this sort of inappropriate imagery, in conjunction with photographers used to working with older models.
    Incidentally, I’m curious about the way that comments on this thread always come a few days after a flurry of google-searches on ‘fred bare’ lead people to this post. If you and previous others are trying to do the company a favour, do you realise that every new comment makes this post refresh in subscription feeds that link back here, thus making its Google ranking higher? If you ignore this post it will eventually sink down below the first page of results, y’know.

  12. Thanks for preserving those 4 pix up above. They are exactly what you have described them as. That some ppl can’t see the sexualisation in the poses, shows the danger of this stuff becoming normalised. If even the fotographer didn’t realise what s/he was doing – then there is a big problem.
    The default bodily display position for a female of almost any age is now “check it out”. Which is very primal and all, but not something we can afford at this late stage.

  13. Iwonder if David Jones ran their lawsuit by Fred Bare before engaging in it? Quite possible, as they might have been seeking plaintiff partners. Talk about extending the original bad publicity – what are DJ’s thinking?
    The lawsuit and your post about it is only going to increase this post’s google rank as well. Bad luck, fred bare.

  14. Fred Bare’s new winter catalogue is fine, by the way. Kids being kids. They’ve lost the teen girls range from the site I notice.
    Interestingly, when I checked the site a few weeks ago following nangara’s Jan.16th comment, they’d put the summer catalogue back up with some modifications – some pics had been cropped so as not to show faces, and other pics showed outfits modelled by girls in active poses rather than the original glamour poses. The four photos I show above are still all there though.
    The next time someone from the company cruises on by: you need to add your web-team to the reject pile with the last ad agency, stat! Check out the screen captures below of the thumbnails page from the summer catalogue: it’s so obvious that some images have been removed because your web team haven’t cleaned up the page formatting. Also, although the new winter catalogue text links at the top click through to all the new photos, the link if you actually click on the kids-in-gondola photo on the FB index page takes websurfers straight to the controversial summer catalogue pics (oops!).

  15. I wonder if any of the apologists for the original catalogue who commented earlier will take note and learn from the huge difference between those Summer 2006 photos and the current Winter 2007 photos?
    Can’t they see the huge difference between the silly happy playing kids in this new one compared to the staged pouty Lolita displays in the previous one? Open them in separate windows and look at them side by side, go on.
    It looks like Fred Bare’s learnt a lesson (although they haven’t said anything publicly to acknowledge any earlier error of judgement). What about Kerrie, nangara and zipporah? Have they got the guts to tell us they can see it now?

  16. I think the cropped photos are actually scarier than the originals – the poses are still provocative but now the child has been reduced to a body.
    I also agree with those who think the issue is not so much with the intention but the effect. I don’t doubt that FB have no intention of sexualising children, but these really are sexualised photos regardless.
    Catherine Lumby worries me. I regard myself as a libertarian from way back, but I think her attitude that everyone makes their choices from a basis of freedom is just flawed and dangerous. Women can do what they like with their bodies but my concern is that many are not actually doing what they really would like, but are subject to a whole bunch of pressures, and also that many women have been desensitised to degrading treatment. There’s a big difference between being treated like an object because you get off on putting aside your real power and allowing men to put aside their respect, and being treated like an object because men in fact hold you in contempt.
    And that’s why it’s not OK to photograph children in provocative photos. the more this stuff becomes normalised the more everyone, including children, start to see themselves as sexual objects. Just not OK, and the fact that some people don’t see it makes it even less OK.

  17. i found this blog by mistake….but i am a huge fan of fred bare…and i have 2 young kids…i personally do not find these pics above to be sexual….
    i feel that those who do have that type of tendancy anyway…
    just my opinion but thought i would share

  18. Tania,
    You’re entitled to your opinion, but it does come across as rather a cheap shot.
    “Sexualised” does not mean “sexy” necessarily, by the way. Just that the clothes emphasise male/female differences before the children have actually developed any pubertal differences in the chest/waist/hip areas.
    Emphasising those differences before they actually exist reinforces strict gender roles, which are physically and psychologically limiting to girls and thus inherently problematic.

  19. tigtog
    the clothing my emphasise male/female differences but last time i looked there are differences between boys and girls…i have one of each by the way…
    i dont think the photos reflect developed chest hips or waist…they are just kids..in the spring/summer 06 catalogue which i have on hand the photo shoot was on a beach…and besides the bikini/boardshort clothing all children look adequately dressed…but any normal person would expect to see more skin when wearing a bikini or board short….
    The website which i have recently visisted does not show skin the kids are appropriately dressed in winter clothing…
    the kids are not dressed with heavily applied make up…..i think i have seen many designer catalogues that have photographs that may be considered provocative…but i do not feel that FRED BARE is one of them…

  20. The difference between the summer catalogue and the most recent winter catalogue is discussed in comments 14 and 15 above. Fred Bare listened to the negative feedback and totally changed their catalogue to reflect kids being kids and not “check it out” mini-adults. Good on them, as we said.
    It does tend to undermine your arguments when you make it that obvious that you haven’t bothered to read previous discussion on the topic.

  21. i didnt read all the comments above….i admit it…but i put my opinion forward…as did the others…others opinions will not alter mine…so i dont believe my points are invalid because of it…
    if you feel that fred bare in particular have corrected what ‘you feel’ is inappropriate photograghy then this blog should be no more…
    but i assure you come next summer when their catalogue is released you will see similar photos…their winter catalogue was being prepared well before last Oct when this blog was created…so dont think for a minute that the recent publicity or this ‘blog’ has had an influence on what was actually produced..
    the thing is that ‘some’ people can find sexuality in a photo of a tree…or of a pet….it really is remarkable how people view things differently…

  22. if you feel that fred bare in particular have corrected what “you feel’ is inappropriate photograghy then this blog should be no more”¦

    That’s not how blog posts work. They’re a record of what was topical at the time, and they stay as that. The last comment on this was 2 months ago after the media flurry with the DJs suit against the Australia Institute, and now through your efforts today this post is at the top of the sidebar again when it had been invisible for yonks.
    And now instead of just a mum who likes Fred Bare you’re someone with an intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the company: why am I unsurprised? You people really need better public relations training.

  23. This really is a waste of time and effort on my part….my opinion on the subject is here for all to see…so the back and forth debate is nothing more than you getting your rocks off…as you are not debating towards your argument and tend to be trying to belittle me….
    its commonsense that a catalogue is not produced overnight…as an avid shopper of fred bare i can tell you that their winter range becomes available in Jan and you can purchase the summer range about June…its not rocket science..do the math….dont you shop and see what seasons are available in all ages of clothing…i dont claim to have intimate knoledge of the company…i just stated the fact that your opinion in this matter will not change a thing
    i think HELEN opinion says it all…
    you know its people like you who think you are good at what you do or have an opinion but lack the ability to respect others…..

  24. i think HELEN opinion says it all”¦

    Helen’s response quoting Kerrie, who essentially shared your opinion but more cogently? You do realise Helen’s on my side of this debate?
    You have shown a lack or respect for me and the previous commenters here by turning up and rerunning arguments which have been asked or answered months ago in this thread, and the previous post too, simply because you couldn’t be bothered reading through it before commenting. Implying that anyone agreeing that clothes on young kids can be sexualised is some sort of pervert is hardly respectful, either.
    You don’t have to read anything, of course: it’s your choice entirely whether you want to come off as informed or not. But getting huffy about a lack of respect shown to you when you haven’t shown any respect yourself? Illogical, Tania.

  25. For any parents coming to this discussion now, JK Kids online do a great range of kids clothes, and their catalogue shows the kids doing kid things like kicking soccer balls around, having tea parties, skipping along the beach hand in hand, having picnics etc. It really makes you notice the difference between them and the images posted above.

  26. Tania:
    Why is it that you equate only “skin exposed” with salacious posing? I have pictures of myself nearly naked, and naked, as a child, as well as pictures of myself in bathing suit, shorts, long pants and a snowsuit. I wasn’t thrusting my hips forward or giving the camera a sexy glare in any of them.
    Do you have pictures of your kids acting sexy? I don’t mean kissy lips, I mean smoldering, pouty, hip-thrusting, come-hither photos.
    I think you’re being rather disrespectful of tigtog. She’s not arguing with you “just to get [her] rocks off.” She’s got a position and she’s explaining her reasons to you, despite your whining and ignoring what she’s saying.
    I think she’s shown a remarkable amount of patience with you. You’ve suggested she doesn’t know that boys and girls have differences in their anatomy, or that catalogues are printed in advance. You’ve suggested that she has no respect for others and that she’s putting you down (which she has very carefully tried *not* to do).
    Yep. Your “opinion is here for all to see.” Rain or shine, through the ages, it remains constant. Regardless of its provenance or advisability.
    What would be the point of discussing anything with you if that’s the case for all your opinions? Did you think a blog is like voting, that you just post a comment and there it is and no one can gainsay it?
    You don’t like being contradicted. I suggest starting your own blog, or better yet, a website where you can post and no one else can comment on it.
    Alternatively you could try to see the point before rejecting it out of hand. You might learn something.

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