Sweaty Betty Unfairly Criticised For ‘Sexualisation’ Of New Children’s Range

The furore over the new kids range images from Sweaty Betty came to my attention today in the form of this post from the Huffington Post. Essentially the issue is that there is a new tropical print range of sports clothing aimed at teenagers and some of the photos of these young girls wearing this sportswear are being viewed as “overly sexualised”.

As the Dad to four girls I honed in on this article to see what the fuss was about.

Where did this all kick off

So this Twitter user gets to the point pretty quickly…

Followed by another disappointed Twitter User…

And another…

It’s fair to say that there are a fair few folks out there who see something in these images that they find very distasteful. Everyone has a right to an opinion and Twitter allows people to voice that very well.

But Sweaty Betty also has something to say.

What does Sweaty Betty have to say?

Well here’s a blog post by Tamara Hill-Norton (founder of Sweaty Betty). A key take away quote from this post would be:

“We shot the campaign for this with my two girls, my niece Esme and our model this season Penny Lane. 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.”

While this post does not address directly the criticism being levelled at Sweaty Betty it does go some way to help understand the rationale for the style of photo they were aiming for in this campaign.

Much a fuss about nothing
Sweaty Betty
Sweaty Betty

I have to say when I first saw the headline I went in ready to be outraged. I was set to Tweet my own anger and dismay at such a heinous marketing crime. But then I saw the images. I didn’t quite see what other people were so angry about.

As a Dad of four girls, two of which are teenagers, I believe I am reasonably qualified to have an opinion on this matter. And I disagree with the criticism being levelled at Sweaty Betty on this. Let me explain…

There’s an old saying: “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. This literally means that the perception of beauty is subjective. If it’s possible that we can all view beauty in different ways then it’s possible we can all view these images in different ways. My initial reaction to seeing these photos teenage girls dressed in tight sportswear is not one remotely sexual at all. Let’s be honest, if I did I would have a serious problem! So why do the women on Twitter from above think that?

Why have they looked at these images and immediately thought they are over sexualised?

What I saw in these images? Moody teenagers in garish sportswear. I have teenage daughters – I know those looks! From left to right you have the following:

  • The “what you looking at” face
  • The “I’m a cocky little so-and-so, so what” look
  • The “there’s a camera pointing at me, try and look natural” expression
People agree with me

It’s worth noting that I asked Helen to look at this new range on the Sweaty Betty website, specifically these photos. I didn’t say why, I just asked her what she thought. She didn’t see any unnecessary sexualisation either. Also, noting that The Independent has picked up on this story, there is a comment on there that echoes what I’ve just alluded to, in that if you see these images as sexual then it is you who has the problem.

the independant
The Independent

I won’t apologise – I simply don’t see these images as being overly sexualised at all. I don’t think they “sell” sportswear to teenager either but I’m not marketing guru, am I?

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

Title photograph taken from sweatybetty.com for editorial purposes

2 thoughts on “Sweaty Betty Unfairly Criticised For ‘Sexualisation’ Of New Children’s Range”

  1. Tricky one because I don’t actually like that first image but it doesn’t seem overly sexualised to me. Even so, I would never use imagery like that on my blog (bear mid riff, legs slightly parted etc.). Just not an image I wish to convey.

    The ‘new in discover more’ image is just great, a really fun picture.

    The counter argument made by one of those tweeting about it is that these items are not stereotypical sports goods. With attractive prints they may, in fact, broaden the appeal of sportswear and sports which can surely only be a good thing.

    Let us not forget this comes from the HuffPo. It takes its lead from the fickle and often puerile world of social media. For every outraged Armchair General using social media, there will probably be two or three teenagers and mums and dads who are now aware that Sweaty Berry has a range of sportswear aimed at kids. This is marketing that money simply can’t buy. Kerching! Not so much Sweatty betty as Minted Betty.
    As I say, not necessarily to my taste but I don’t look at those images and think

    1. Thanks for your comment. I didn’t say in the post whether I “liked” the photo(s) or not. In fact, I don’t from the photographer’s point of view and I’m not overly keen on the print either. But I can see that they are trying to appeal to a wider market. Sweaty Betty, I believe, was founded on the principle of getting all women into sports and providing sportswear for all. So, yes, a good thing they are appealing. As I said in my post though, I don’t think these images actually “sell” these items as sportswear per-say, there are not functional sporty photos here and thus just more “fashing” sportswear.

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