Sunday, 28 August 2011
I work in a shop of one of the UK's largest footwear chains. The brand prides itself on it's kids wear department, we measure feet and fit shoes to an approved standard. No one day is the same when it comes to the customers that pass through the shop entrance. I've never really cared much for the hype and protest against the magazines of today and the negative body image they give, I've always been quite skinny, skinny and short.
People who I consider friends have looked at me, asked me my size and told me I'm 'tiny', 'small', 'so thin', but it's just the way I've always been, I can eat and eat and eat but when I step on the scales there's no difference. I guess that's why I've never cared about body image in the media, being five foot two inches and skinny has meant I've never really seen the consequences, the impact airbrushed celebrities and super skinny models have had on their audience. Until today.
The store is heaving with parents buying back to school shoes and I'm working the measuring machine, the least favorite job as I tell child after child to step into the white boxes and position their feet accordingly. A little girl of about 6 or 7, accompanied by her mum, steps onto the machine thinking they're scales and breathes a heavy sigh. "God," she exclaims "I hope I haven't put on weight!" I was stunned as her mother just laughed, I never realized how children even as young as 7 are concerned about their weight, appearance, the clothes they wear.
I don't even remember when I started to wear a full face of makeup, so I ask, how young is too young for children to take an active interest in their appearance or weight? Is it really an airbrushed, 'perfect' culture that is making our children grow up so fast?