Above: Charlotte Mclean, left, and Isabella Woolford Diaz covering a copy of lads’ mag Nuts sold at eye level at Tesco near Camden School for Girls
Published: 12 April, 2012
by RICHARD OSLEY
SIXTH-FORM pupils have formed their own campaigning feminist group and are taking on a shop selling “degrading lads’ mags” near their school.
They argue magazines such as Nuts and Zoo – with pictures of women posing in their underwear and showing off their cleavages – should be positioned away from the eyeline of children and teenagers.
The Camden School For Girls’ Feminist Group say they have asked staff at the Tesco, opposite their school in Camden Road, Camden Town, to move the magazines – but have so far been ignored.
The rack of magazines is next to where many children buy their sandwiches and drinks at lunchtime.
Isabella Woolford Diaz, 17, one of the founders of the group, said: “If you walk in here, you can see where people go to get food, and the magazines are clearly on the eyesight level of us all.
“The magazine covers are not the image we should see – it is very submissive for women. In other shops, they have already moved magazines or put covers over the picture bit of the front cover. Marks & Spencer has been good at this.”
The feminist group is concerned that the racy front covers have two negative impacts: leading boys to see women only as sexual objects; and pushing girls into worrying about weight and appearance, possibly triggering eating disorders.
Asked what the group would say to models like Lucy Pinder – this week’s Nuts cover girl – if they met her, Ms Woolford Diaz added: “We are not about being aggressive or judgmental. I’d want to know the background, how she got into doing this.”
The school is one of the best known in north London for its high performance and famous alumni – Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah Brown, campaigning journalist Fiona Millar and actors Emma Thompson and Tamsin Greig were all one-time students – but also for its rebellious spirit. In 2010, students refused to leave the school and slept in the building overnight in protest at university fees rises and education cuts.
The new group said that while it drew inspiration from the great campaigns of the past, it should not be teased with the stereotype of bra-burning militants.
Charlotte Mclean, 18, another member, said: “Maybe decades ago people thought feminists were all old lesbians who hated men.
“That is so clichéd. It is not like that – it is about people treating people equally.”
She said: “I joined because I was unhappy at the image of women I was seeing. It does affect people. It may seem like a small thing but the Camden School for Girls gets good speakers in assemblies and at the end there is time for questions. It is always the boys who get to ask their questions first.”
She added: “We’ve had students who are only 13 or 14 being beeped outside the front of the school by men driving past. You think: how can this even be allowed?”
The feminist group has been meeting at the school since September and has worked on a series of campaigns, including raising awareness of women being stoned for adultery in Iran and the use of rape of women as a weapon in the Congo.
Ms Woolford Diaz said: “I think anybody could be classed as a feminist if you believe in men and women having equal rights.”
The New Journal contacted Nuts, which was the most prominent magazine in the Tesco display on Tuesday.
The magazine forwarded our queries to the Professional Publishers Association (PPA), which sent back guidelines for shops advising that the magazines were not displayed at a child’s eye-level or below.
A clause in those guidelines adds that sales should not be inhibited by shifting the display.
A spokesman said: “According to the National Readership Survey, the average age of a reader of men’s lifestyle magazines is 30, and these titles are not created for, or marketed to, children.”
A Tesco spokeswoman said: "We always listen to our customers, and will be adding in an additional, higher shelf to which we will move the magazines.".