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Don’t make a cock up if you want to stay ‘a-breast’ of political correctness

 In Uncategorized


I really wish that Alex Frith had been called Richard, then we could have lamented and protesting about what a ‘dick’ he had been when he wrote ‘Growing Up for Boys’.

So much of a Richard, in fact, that his publisher of the outstanding (in all the wrong ways) 2013 tome – Usbourne Children’s Books – have made a public apology for his mammoth faux pas.

For those of you that missed the grovel in The Guardian, you may well be wondering what all the hoo haa is about.

Well, in his 2013 – AD, not BC! – wisdom, Mr. Richard Frith (formerly known as Alex) told young, impressionable, hormonal teenage boys that one of the function of breasts is to ‘make the girl look grown-up and attractive.’

Cue an emotive consumer experience all round, when boys reading the book are left with the impression that it’s ok to ogle a girl’s boobs and the females who’ve chosen to gain a deeper insight into male puberty are left with feelings of inadequacy if their breasts aren’t yet putting in an appearance or are on the small side, hence they clearly aren’t classed as being attractive.

Ok, so I am a grown woman who, quite frankly, realised a long time ago that having a small chest had its pros and cons but wasn’t going to let it impact me either way.

So why the protest, if I was – at least eventually – content with the size of my chest? (I call it chest out of jest to a woman who shopped at my Dad’s butchers shop and, much to our amusement, asked for chicken chest because she refused to say breast).

I know, I hear you, but I haven’t drawn this reaction to the book out of thin air. Comments have flooded social media, both from female friends…..:

“Let’s talk about breasts. I have a pretty big paid that arrived quite miraculously over night when I was 12. I felt like a freak, I hated my chest. I have so many issues with this statement which, in a book for 12-year-old boys, further compounds attitudes towards women’s bodies. What if this statement applied to the size of a man’s penis?”

“I have no words. My (small) breasts have failed me.”

….And from other social media users (and not just women):

Man vs Pink commented: ”WTF? From the @Usborne book ‘Growing up for Boys’: Girls have breasts for two reasons – feeding babies and looking grown-up and attractive.”

Ok, so the breast-feeding reference – that touches on the fact that not all women are able to do so – is a great thing for fellas and the world at large to know, without doubt.

But, as all the naysayers in highly negative consumer feedback have declared in response to the book – that is supposed to be a “frank and friendly book offering boys advice on what to expect from puberty and how to stay happy and confident as they go through physical, psychological and emotional changes”-  have stated, the breasts and ‘attractiveness’ reference does nothing other than “reinforce the sexualisation of breasts which makes girls and women self-conscious”.

As one Bristol- based teacher, who also took to Twitter to vent her frustrations, said: “The other huge issue is the false equivalence of developed breasts with attractiveness and being ‘grown-up’. The ‘grown-up’ statement is troubling. There are girls of 13 with developed breasts. To describe them as ‘grown-up and attractive’ would be worrying, as would infantilising an adult woman with smaller breasts,”.

Let’s face it. Whatever your issue with the message perceived by the book, it’s a huge cock up, both by Mr. Frith for penning it and for Usbourne for not flagging it.

PC or not PC, that is the question…

Ok, so a lot of political correctness is an age thing (if you ever hear a youngster bemoaning someone’s comments, it’s generally because they’ve heard their parents doing the same – let’s face it, kids let a lot wash over them) But it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

But on the other side of the coin, as a business do you really want to run the risk of annoying and potentially losing a proportion of your target market – not to mention your existing loyal customers – by refusing to err on the side of caution?

Yes, you want your consumers to have a positive and emotional user experience, but do you want it to be for the wrong reasons?

It really isn’t worth it. We live in a world where the political correctness police bring down the hammer without a moment’s notice and, thanks to social media, if you even breath at the wrong time, the world knows about it.

And even though they say no press is bad press, I wouldn’t recommend you take the risk.

User feedback and the user experience is so important, especially when good feedback and a positive experience can lead to business boosting word of mouth referrals.

So watch what you say. Don’t cock up or make a boob. Your business could become the equivalent of chip paper before you know it if you do.
Of course, what you can and can’t say depends on your audience. But do you really know them and know what can be said or done, whether it all seriousness or even in jest?

We know that loyal customers are the backbone of any business but we need to know how they work and how their emotions run before we can truly voice our beliefs and opinions.

So get in touch with The Monachie Project team today and let us carry out user experience research and analytics to enable you to truly understand your market… and your business from a market perspective.

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