If you're a young woman or teenage girl in the digital age, you may have had your fair share of prospective partners – or even trolls, for that matter – asking you to "send nudes", aka naked photos of yourself. At best, such requests are inappropriate and tiring (unless they're made within a consensual relationship, of course); at worst, they're an example of sexual coercion.
So we're not surprised that people are calling out a popular fast fashion retailer for a sign urging shoppers to "send nudes" of themselves. The pink neon sign, which reads "send me nudes x", was spotted in the Missguided store in Bluewater shopping centre, Kent, and also appears to be on the walls of the store's Westfield Stratford branch in east London.
The sign has inspired reams of angry tweets and sparked a petition calling for it to be removed, which has garnered around 6,000 signatures at the time of writing.
The petition is pushing for the brand to take down the sign and "respect girls more". Rachel Gardner, who founded the campaign and drew attention to it in a recent tweet, writes that the sign "legitimises the culture of sexual coercion that teenage girls and young women experience daily" and promotes "a negative and damaging culture".
"Teenage girls feel under increasing pressure to create and send nude pictures of themselves," she writes, pointing to an NSPCC report which concludes that teenage girls are most adversely affected by the culture of sexting. "Once online, these nude images can be seen and used by anyone, making girls and vulnerable young women the victims of bullying, revenge porn and exploitation. Many of these nude images can even make their way to child abuse websites."
Gardner highlights that it's illegal for nude images of under-18s to be created, sent and shared in the UK. She adds: "'Send me nudes' legitimises the culture of sexual coercion that teenage girls and young women experience daily. In posting 'Send me nudes' in their store, Missguided are promoting a negative and damaging culture. Instead, they should be empowering young women to value their intrinsic value and express their uniqueness through the art of fashion. So we are calling on Missguided to respect girls and take down their sign."
Youth worker Tim Gough has also penned an open letter to the company's CEO, Nitin Passi, suggesting Passi "may be... ignorant to either the sexual pressures of young people, or the law regarding sexting culture."
He also slammed the sign for contributing to a sexting culture that can destroy young people's lives. "If you had spent any real time with a sixteen year old consumer who had followed your advice to ‘send nudes’, then you would witness first-hand the destruction that such a simple act creates. You would see the wake of broken relationships, emotional havoc, and intense bullying. You would learn about moved schools, social service involvement, police case numbers, and court hearings.
"You would see childhood robbed in a moment of poor decision making. Your sign, thus your brand, is complicit in that," added Gough.
Missguided attracted the ire of shoppers back in April, too, after it emerged that real cat fur had been found in a pair of pink high heels sold by the brand. Let's hope the store heeds shoppers' demands and removes the missguided sign.
A spokesperson for Missguided told Refinery29 that "the sign has now been covered and will be removed this evening". The company will be issuing a statement shortly.