STAB VESTS AND SELF HATRED – WELCOME TO THE STORE OF MODERN CHILDHOOD
I went into “The Store of Modern Childhood” yesterday – an incredibly thought provoking and hard-hitting immersive installation that has been commissioned by The Children’s Society, a national charity that works with the country’s most vulnerable children and young people in England and Wales. The Children’s Society’s ambition is to bring to life the findings from The Good Childhood Report 2019 and the very real issues affecting young people today in an emotive and motivating way.
It is a little shop of horrors, displaying a range of items based on an overlooked child’s voice and full of unsettling products that represent the challenges young people face on a daily basis including poverty, knife crime, bullying and sexual exploitation. Products included stab vests, exercise books filled with messages of self-hate, a make-up station complete with ‘bruise hider’, ‘anxiety concealer’ and ‘black eye fader’ as well as phone cases featuring bullying messages. Another area showed mobile phones displaying predatory online conversations with groomers and cyber bullies.
The department store style “back to school-esque” take on what is a serious, horrifying issue regarding knife crime that boldly shines an uncompromising light on this harsh reality.:-
Look closely at the “beauty” products on this table and you will see a price list for Anxiety Mist, Black Eye Fader, Bruise Hider and Ego Boost protein powder that offers you the opportunity to “bulk up and silence those haters”:-
On the stationary table are “Feeling bad notepad’s:-
“You are looking at yourself and thinking you look gross” mirror:-
Thankfully, as a counterpoint, the store also features a “Gallery Of Optimism” to inspire a brighter, better future for children across the UK. Transitioning through a “changing room” you can explore a far more positive space representing hope, resilience and the joy of childhood. A sign on the door explains that children should not have to live in fear, feel inferior, or worry about their future and that The Children’s Society is here to support this country’s young people. When they feel worthless, their job is to let them know they matter. When they feel unheard, they show them that they’re listening and when they feel no hope they help them look forward to their futures once agin. We are invited to step through to see how their work is changing young people’s lives:-
This year’s Good Childhood Report confirms increasing unhappiness in children and young people across the UK. Their figures suggest that there are around 250,000 children who are currently unhappy with their lives and their research points to a variety of important factors being the reason for this. A significant decline in boy’s happiness with their appearance (the girl’s have struggled with how they looked previously) as well as school culture, family finances and whether they feel safe during the day – so crime and the environment is certainly becoming more of a worry for them.
Mark Russell, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society say’s “it’s time to listen. It’s time to show young people they matter. And then we need to act on what young people tell us, so we can change their world. We can and we must make a difference. #IHearYouth.”
This year, The Children’s Society is asking us all to join them in standing with young people and to REALLY listen to what they have to say in order to take action to solve the problems that children are facing today. Greta Thunberg is the classic recent example of a young person who has succeeded in getting the world to listen to her regarding climate change issues and she will no doubt inspire many more to do the same.