The sexualisation of women in the media is a topic of debate that has been raging for years. In my review for Glory Days I touched on something that happened recently which really got on my nerves. Last month, successful pop group Little Mix returned to the stage that made them famous to debut their latest single ‘Shout Out To My Ex’. Whilst the girls’ vocal performance was as astounding as always, it wasn’t their singing that most of the UK was focusing on.
On the morning after Little Mix’s return to X Factor, media outlets were reporting that viewers had slammed the group’s performance, denoting their outfits as slutty and likening them to prostitutes. The backlash followed comments that former Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm had made a few days in advance about Little Mix being too provocative for her seven year old daughter to enjoy.
Many people’s arguments against the group compared the girls’ current dress sense to when they appeared on the reality singing contest back in 2011. They seemed to forget, however, that in the five years since they won the X Factor Little Mix have grown up.
All of the girls were still teenagers when they were on the show as opposed to the young women that they are now. Even back then they were still subjected to harsh criticisms over the way they looked though. Jesy Nelson in particular was targeted over her weight, something that she has since lost after being in the public eye (although it’s hard to know whether she truly did it for the right reasons). Being 18 and not feeling especially sexy, it’s unsurprising that neither she, nor the rest of the group, wanted to wear revealing clothes onstage. For them, they were all about the giving the best vocals and performance that they could.
Funnily enough that hasn’t changed just because their wardrobe has.
A great deal of the criticism towards their performance of ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ insinuated that they were dressing in a more revealing manner because they wanted to sell records or get attention. No one seemed to consider that these were now four women who are comfortable in their own skin and wanted to show that they’re proud of how they look. Everyone immediately took to social media to criticise them as bad role models for wearing less demure outfits, rather than seeing the flip-side that they’re promoting a form of body positivity. If we weren’t all so quick to point out the negatives in something then we might actually benefit from seeing the brighter side of things.
Given all the fuss that was made about these outfits in the media, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the girls walked onto the stage in skimpy bikinis. If you did a google search of that performance you might find yourself surprised by how little skin the girls are actually showing, especially looking at Leigh-Anne’s outfit. What they’re wearing is tame compared to many other female singers in the world, and I’d like to see who criticises Beyoncé when she performs in similar attire.
So what’s the main problem people are having with this? The kids of course.
When Little Mix first appeared on the X Factor their main fanbase was mainly young girls. Fast forward five years and that’s not quite the same anymore, but their younger audience still make up a large proportion of their listeners. The issue is, as I’ve said before, that Little Mix aren’t in the same place in their lives as they were when they first got together. They were vulnerable and maturing back then, and to be honest they still are now, so the music they’ve created and the outfits they’ve worn have naturally evolved over time. In order to be seen as credible artists and continue to grow in success they have to keep growing. They can’t keep making the same innocent, bubblegum pop year after year just because kids like them.
At the end of the day, just because someone you like on television wears or does something, it doesn’t mean that you have to copy them. We all have free will. And for those that are too young to know better, isn’t that where the parents come in? What have they got to worry about their children being influenced if they’re stopping them from doing anything they shouldn’t?