Shoppers have hit out at Marks and Spencer over an item of girls underwear.
The leopard print pants have been described as ‘skimpy’ and ‘ridiculous’ and appeared in the ‘girls shorts’ section of the retailer’s website. M&S says it was a genuine error as the items are underwear and should never have appeared under ‘shorts’.
However campaigners say the fact they slotted in so well there – with all the other ‘tight and tiny shorts’ – suggests the retailer needs to rethink its clothing offer. Let Clothes Be Clothes, a campaign to end gender stereotyping in the design and marketing of childrenswear, shared a photo of the pants next to some boys underpants and said: “Girls ‘shorts’ opposite boys ‘underwear’ at Marks and Spencer – what is the difference?
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“If you have a problem with boys wearing just their pants as ‘clothing,’ then you should be asking why it’s acceptable for girls.”
Acknowledging the fact it was probably due to a website error, the Facebook post added: “These do seem to be in the wrong section and having checked again, are sold online as shorts AND underwear. The problem is they look perfectly at home in a collection defined by being really short and really tight.
“Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind either of those things – but I want choice, and I find it disturbing girls choices are defined by showing as much body as possible, the same as women.”
Dozens of parents commented on the post, with many complaining about the styles of shorts marketed at girls.
“My daughter won’t wear shorts from the girls section as they’re always too short to ride her bike or go on the zip line,” said one mum.
“She said it hurts her legs as they always rub on the seat. I don’t understand why they make them so short. My son still fits into his ones from last year. They’re so much longer and have way more room in them, plus pockets.”
Another added: “My daughter is 10 and any ‘girl’ shorts are so short and tight and even regular ones look a bit sexy as she is developing curves. And, probably her biggest peeve is no pockets!!! Why can’t girls get sun safe, comfortable shorts with growing room?”
Francesca Mallen, of Let Clothes Be Clothes, told the Manchester Evening News: “I think Marks and Spencer have added those particular ‘shorts’ to the wrong section, but it raises an important point about how much like underwear some shorts aimed at girls have become.
“Like a lot of parents I want choice, and don’t actually mind short shorts – if there’s a choice. For going down slides and climbing trees, tiny shorts aren’t ideal – plus sometimes kids need extra sun coverage too. We would ask M&S to think again about how they sell children’s clothes and just give the choice of kids of different lengths, colors and designs (with pockets!) for ALL children.”
M&S has now removed the item from the shorts section and told us it was ‘a genuine error’ because the product name contains the word ‘shorts’.
A spokeswoman said it sells ‘a real range of lengths and styles’ within the children’s shorts range.
What do you think about shorts marketed at girls? Are they too short? Do you buy boys for your daughter instead? Let us know your views in the comments here.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.