Push-Up Bikinis for 7-Year-Olds & Other Tween Travesties
I have never looked at an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue, nor have I ever bought any of their clothes. But I'm sure they don't really care that a middle-aged mother ignores their presence in the marketplace, since what they are after is my little girl.
But why would they choose to piss off mothers everywhere and advertise a "push-up" bathing suit for 7-year-olds? Or maybe, as Peggy Orenstein said, they want to upset the parents and increase their own street cred?
After outcry all over the media, the company recently re-named the padded bikini top as "striped triangle" but kept the push-upedness of design. I guess they assume that 7-year-old girls want padding, but have to get past their mothers first.
The sexualization - or decoration - of our young girls is a constant source of anxiety to me. The makeup line for 8-year-olds, the sexy role models, the trashy toys. Everywhere a young girl looks there is a stereotype waiting to convince her that pretty and made up is better than smart and natural.
Last week, Dove released some research revealing that by the age of 14, more than half of Canadian girls feel pressure to be beautiful, and by the age of 29, the number increases to 96%. Lisa Naylor, a counsellor and self-esteem expert told the audience at a Dove event that it is not girls' jobs to decorate the world. I'm taking that saying to heart and repeating it often to my daughter, and to my sons.
Dove has tools and resources for discussing these issues with your daughter at dove.ca. (I am personally a little uneasy with the Dove relationship with self-esteem, especially while advertising "visibly more beautiful skin from a body wash", but I may be overthinking it.)
My five-year-old understands the pressure to be beautiful, she told me she likes to wear lipstick to be "prettier." She is already pressuring me to allow her to get her ears pierced (I said 12), and since she inherited her father's hairy genes, I am sure leg shaving and eyebrow waxing are not too far away.
I don't remember feeling those things when I was a little kid, but that may be because of my slightly nerdy ways. I was more interested in getting rid of my glasses than worrying about the shape of my eyebrow. But this generation seems very aware of the pressure to be pretty. I want my daughter to know that she is more than decoration: she is a natural leader, smart and a problem solver and is so much more than Abercrombie & Fitch can even imagine.
Do you think the images aimed at tween girls are over-sexualized? Do you think Abercrombie & Fitch should pull the bathing suits?
Want more chaos? Last year I acknowledged that I make many typos in my posts, but I'm still a good person.