I’m not a raging fan of some of the content on XoJane. As a woman of a certain age, who has children, I just couldn’t get behind some of the articles that the editors of the website choose to publish. As a feminist I believe that woman can do whatever the hell they want with their bodies, it’s their business, and I really don’t care if adults want to act like idiots their entire lives. It’s just not my jam. But what I do care about is the abuse of children, so when I was linked to this article on Jane Pratt’s new beauty website, XoVain.com, I was pretty appalled:
If Mason Disick has taught us anything, it’s that toddlers are super effing hot.
Yeah, you read the above correctly. And it goes on:
Hello Kitty, knee-highs, baby tees, ring pops, those stupid stuffed animal backpacks; I literally just came up with the word “infanstyle,” so you can compliment me on it in the comments, and hashtag it or whatever. Point is: looking like a small child has never been cooler or sexier, so get with it.
The last time I wore pigtails was in July, to a birthday party. It was one of those extremely common five-year-olds-on-acid-themed parties, and, yeah, I dug it. Stylish babes love looking like children and dudes love babes that love looking like children.
And there is a video, starring Jane’s nine-year-old daughter Charlotte. I think at some point most moms would probably say “Hey, can you keep my adorable daughter away from your child sex abuse jokes?”
Are you all feeling it? It’s edgy, no? Edgy and cool and subversive and dirty and oh, oh-so-bad-girl because “Lulz, it’s totally hi-larious to make fun of kids being sexualized!”
Except no, it’s not. And I would like to remind the lovely people at XoVain that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Children with a prior history of sexual victimization are extremely likely to be revictimized. Some research estimates an increased risk of over 1000%. Every year at least one million children worldwide, mainly girls, are forced into the sex industry. That on the day this article was published a man pleaded no contest to over 300 counts of child sex abuse. I want everyone to agree that we, as adults, can do whatever the hell we want. We can wear pigtails and find them sexy. We can also agree that kids are off-limits. 100%. We shouldn’t call them “sexy” or sexualize them under the guise of beauty or fashion articles. And this type of thing is dangerous, because the more it’s acceptable, the more that society becomes numb towards the victimization of children. Even under the guise of humor or “irony” it seeps into the collective consciousness and we start to dilute the real-world realities and ramification of the abuse of children.
I’m not expecting beauty websites to be political or have a stance on feminism. I do sort of expect them, especially when they are run by an iconic 50-year-old self-indenitifying feminist, to maybe not promote or glorify or attempt to “humor-ize” the abuse of children.
Some of their readers also weren’t “feeling” this whole ” infanstyle” vibe and let their thoughts be known in the comments. The editor of the website was quick to tell them all that they are like totally dum-dums and that the author is actually a huge activist for women:
Guys, I honestly feel like Annie was sarcastically pointing out how so many entertainment/fashion/media outlets sexualize kids–she definitely wasn’t saying it’s OK or making light of fucked up things, and it sucks that that’s how it’s being interpreted. She’s one of the good ones, so let her take a mulligan if you didn’t like this particular article.
I totally understand where you’re coming from, but knowing Annie’s satirical intentions (and her genuine sensitivity towards topics like assault), I respectfully disagree with the interpretation. I’m glad we can talk about this, though; we really are listening to you guys.