A pink neon sign encouraging young women to share nude images of themselves has been removed after thousands of people complained.
The sign stating: “Send me nudes x”, was in a Kent store of the women’s fashion chain Missguided.
The company says it is “all about empowerment”, but the sign prompted accusations that it was reinforcing pressure on young women.
Following a campaign which has seen nearly 9,000 people sign a petition against the message in less than 48 hours, Missguided covered the sign and later removed it.
Rachel Gardner, who led the campaign after being contacted by a mother, told Christian Today that the message encourages illegal behaviour and “legitimises a very negative stereotype”.
Describing itself as “bold, straight talking and forward thinking”, Missguided says its mission is to “empower females globally to be confident in themselves”.
The retailer told Gardner in an email that the sign had been covered. Bluewater, the shopping centre where the store is based, said yesterday afternoon that it had been “advised that the sign has now been removed”.
Sexting, as the practice of sending explicit pictures is known, has become widespread in recent years.
It is illegal for people to create, possess, or distribute sexual images of minors, even if it is of themselves.
In January, a mum wrote in The Telegraph about the effect sexting had on her teenage daughter.
Roz Carver said she had assumed her 15-year-old daughter would be “too sensible” to get involved, but she was pressured into sending a semi-naked image of herself to a boy.
Roz told of the effect it had: “After a few days, Kate was a husk; she had barely slept, and was still breaking down in tears.”
“In days, she’d gone from a happy, confident teenager to a broken wreck”, she added.
Parents encouraged to talk
Lorna Naylor, an anti-bullying coordinator, has said parents need to talk to their children about the issue.
“It may feel awkward but, as a parent, it’s important to explain to your child the risks of sexting, how to stay safe and that they can talk to you if something ever makes them feel scared or uncomfortable”, she commented.