New Look Back in Anger
This weekend, I was out shopping and I saw this t-shirt in New Look menswear http://www.newlook.com/shop/mens/mens-ttoshirts-and-polo-shirts/red-fantasy-football-ttoshirt_252533060. The blurb says “featuring fantasy football girl print on front”; in case you thought she was, you know, a real girl. For further evidence see Let Me Be Your Fantasy t-shirt, (http://www.newlook.com/shop/mens/mens-ttoshirts-and-polo-shirts/green-let-me-be-your-fantasy-printed-ttoshirt_251984532) and Nice Cans t-shirt (http://www.newlook.com/shop/mens/mens-ttoshirts-and-polo-shirts/pale-grey-nice-cans-printed-ttoshirt_251990902).
Yes, it’s ridiculously sexist, totally offensive and it made me immediately put down the clothes that I was about to buy and walk out of the store; I will never shop in New Look again if they think that this is okay.
Is it okay to sexualise a young women in this way and then parade her publically? To link her sexuality to a sport which is lead by a man who famously said that the women’s footballers should wear tighter shorts in order to become more popular? No, no, no!
If you need more info on why this (and the similar t-shirts are so vile) I recommend you read http://londonfeminist.com/site/dear-new-look/ the fantastic open letter to New Look from @Londonfeminist.
However, I decided not to write another blog about the casual sexism inherent in this, because I felt there was a bigger point to make, a point about how young girls are perpetually bombarded with these images of what (literally in this case) is identified as a fantasy female. Look at her, she’s gorgeous; abundant breasts, tiny (wide open) thighs, perfect skin and the knowing come-hither look. Who wouldn’t want to look like her? She’s the female equivalent of a fantasy football league; she might even know the off-side rule.
This t-shirt was in a prominent place, visible as you travelled up the escalator from womenswear to accessories and the youth range aimed at ages 9 to 15. It was also on the natural route between the 9-15 range and the shoes. So, that’s every one of New Look’s not unsubstantial customers and in particular their younger customers, who will see a clearly identified “fantasy female” who, I’m guessing, is a long way from the physical reality of most of those shoppers. A double-whammy there; the fantasy is an unrealistic beauty plus women are there to be the equivalent of a sport. Wow, I hope my 15 year old sister and her friend saw it…
Did you know that New Look have a foundation, to give them some additional Corporate Social Responsibility points… Can you guess where this is going? You’re right, one of the aims of their foundation is:
Learning to deal with issues – helping people to help themselves and their friends by tackling anxieties linked to such issues as eating disorders, obesity, body image, bullying, alcohol or substance abuse, sexual health, domestic violence or gun and knife crime. (http://www.newlookgroup.com/newlook/en/sustainability/foundation)
New Look is a sponsor of B-eat (http://www.b-eat.co.uk/), an amazing charity which helps adults and young people with eating disorders in the UK. B-eat is brilliant and doing brilliant, important work. Any support they get is fantastic.
However, doesn’t New Look have a responsibility to stop perpetuating the causes of the body image crisis that we are trying to resolve? How do their young customers feel when confronted by New Look’s vision of the fantasy women? How does that help? It can’t! Images like this can only hurt someone who is already troubled with low self-esteem and body image worries.
New Look are letting young women down when they should be building them up. Confidence is what we need to give women of all ages who are struggling with their body image. The confidence that they are powerful and have value well beyond anything that could or should fit on a t-shirt.
I emailed a draft of this to New Look before publishing, but have had no comment – I don’t think @LondonFeminist has heard anything either.
If you care (at all) about the negative messages that the UK’s biggest fashion retailer for young women are sending to that audience, please contact them and let them know how you feel – how we feel.
And thank you for listening to another of my rants – I shall keep them coming!
UPDATE: There is now a Facebook group you can join https://www.facebook.com/NewLookMisogyny please do!