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Zara and other high street brands are forcing young girls to wear adult clothing, leading to early sexualisation. This has to stop!

We love love love fashion but shopping for clothes can be hard. The current clothing size system is outdated, unfair and unsustainable. When the label on your top doesn’t match up with your perception of self, it can lead to low self-esteem and body dysmorphia, however body positive you try to be. 

And if that’s what grown women are facing… what about children, tweens and teens? The inconsistencies in the high street’s current sizing system (how come you can be a size 12 and 16 in the same brand?) are filtering down to children’s wear with terrifying results. Younger brains are more susceptible to the mental health issues that are triggered by erratic sizing.  

On the high street, most stores – including Zara and H&M – go up to age 14. That’s four years off the legal age of adulthood in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (and still two years away from being an adult, according to Scottish law.) 

An H&M spokesperson told GLAMOUR, “We have a wide product assortment to ensure that we provide clothing for our young female customers across our ranges including Girl [age 9-14], Divided [sizes 4-22] and Ladies [also size 4-22.] We take pride that through our extensive range of products we empower our customers to choose from a variety of concepts.” 

Zara declined to comment.

Adult body shapes and sizes have changed wildly since the standardised sizing system was created in the 1950s. It’s the same with children’s bodies. 

Girls that don’t fit the ‘standard’ sizing that a brand deems appropriate for that age are thrown into flux. And when the extra focus is placed on a child’s physical size, it can create mental health issues. Jerilee Claydon is a Clinical Psychotherapist and Parenting Educator (@therapyproject.) She told GLAMOUR, “To objectify the body at a young age can compromise the relationship with the self and the body. Turning into a teen is tough enough. Adding unwanted attention can lead to hating our own body.”

It’s important to note that this sizing issue has a particular impact on Black girls. A new report from The Commission on Young Lives in England says Black children are already facing disadvantages in school because they are seen to be more adult-like – shown with devastating effect on the case of Child Q. If the adultification bias is present when children are in school uniform and are obviously children, it could lead to even more dangerous situations when they are in adult clothes out of school.

Lisa Kidner, Mini Boden Design Manager, explains the practical elements of creating children’s clothes, spanning the period when human bodies go through the most growth changes: “From a fit perspective, getting a garment shape to fit well from an age 2 to older than an age 14 comes with its challenges, however… letting children be children is a value we hold very dear.” 

This is a sentiment that every parent shares, particularly when faced with evidence that early sexualisation can induce shame and anxiety. As children’s bodies grow, so do their minds.



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