A T-shirt being sold by high street and online retail giant Next caused a fuss on Twitter this week — so much so that the company has apologised and withdrawn it from their collection.
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It appears that the first complaint came from Eleanor Pugh-Stanley on Sept. 5, who tweeted that selling a top — aimed at girls aged between 3 and 16 years — with the slogan “Happy girls are the prettiest” was “not ok.”
— Eleanor Pugh-Stanley (@eleanor_pugh) September 5, 2015
As word spread on social media, more customers complained to Next and high profile equality charity the Fawcett Society joined in to express dismay and offer support to those affected by the slogan. Many people complained that the message — inspired by an Audrey Hepburn quote — was negative, as it appears to directly equate happiness with attractiveness.
— Fawcett Society (@fawcettsociety) September 28, 2015
— Laura Wright (@Laura_Wright_84) September 29, 2015
The customer service team at Next responded quickly to the backlash, tweeting: “So sorry for any offense caused, we are working on making our ranges as inclusive as possible and avoiding gender stereotyping. We will definitely feed your concerns about this particular style back to the teams.” (sic)
And it appears that this wasn’t an empty promise as earlier today the retailer announced via Twitter that the offending item was no longer available, posting: “We’ve decided to remove the item from sale. We apologise if we have upset or cause offense to our customers and we apologise if that has been the case.” (sic)
Hats off to Next for admitting fault and dealing with this in the best possible way. Of course the issue is much, much bigger than what’s written on a T-shirt.
Recent research carried out by Girlguiding UK revealed that girls as young as seven are experiencing mental health problems. Among the 7-to-11 age group, 83 percent reported feeling sad or down and 16 percent said this was because of concerns about their looks. It’s glaringly obvious that young people in the U.K. need help and support addressing their mental health concerns — not T-shirts making them feel worse.
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