Is it possible to be both disgusted and jaded at the same time? As a grandparent, the latest line of swimwear from the purveyors at Abercrombie & Fitch disgusts me, but hardly surprises any more. ABC reports that A&F has a new line of bikinis for preadolescents that feature padded, “push-up” bikini tops for girls as young as eight years old — the same age as one of my granddaughters. Not only is the retailer already known for its near-soft-porn exploitation of teens to sell sex to preadolescents, they’re now selling inadequacy and insecurity, too:
After A&F took heat from the media, they changed the wording on their website to “striped triangle,” but the product hasn’t changed at all:
CNN also covers this today:
“How is this okay for a second-grader?” asked Rebecca Odes in a recent post on the Babble parenting blog.
“Playing at sexy is an inevitable and important part of growing up. But there’s a difference between exploring these ideas on your own and having them sold to you in a children’s catalog,” she wrote.
Gail Dines, a sociology professor at Wheelock College in Boston, similarly slammed the top, saying it would encourage girls to think about themselves in a sexual way before they are ready.
“It (also) sends out really bad signals to adult men about young girls being appropriate sexual objects,” she told CNN affiliate WHDH.
The biggest danger is to the girls who feel they need to compete on bust size before they even start to develop. What this product and its marketing tells them is that their bodies are inadequate and that they need to change their body shape immediately in order to be seen as attractive. Adolescent girls and young women already get bombarded with that message far too much as it is without starting in grade school.
The question isn’t why parents would buy something like this from Abercrombie & Fitch. It’s why they would allow their money to be spent there at all.