After a week-long groundswell of negative public opinion, Abercrombie and Fitch has apparently removed their padded bikini from the market, or at least from the offerings on the Abercrombie Kids site. The move was made after the initial re-naming of the product met with mixed response among critics who thought it was the product, not just the name, that was problematic.
A similar product was pulled from stores in the UK last year after parent protests and public denouncing from child protection agencies. The Abercrombie suit generated a huge amount of press-at last count, hundreds of online articles covering the controversy. And public opinion seemed to be overwhelmingly against the marketing of this product to girls in the age range it was sized for.
Most of the comments defending the suit on the company’s Facebook page came from girls themselves, who were more than happy to have easy access to such a breast amplification product. But the suit also found some support in surprising places.
A parent on the Abercrombie Kids Facebook page said: “I want the lining and the padded for my developing daughter, it keeps her looking appropriate! A few other parents echoed this specific sensibility, saying they’d rather have their girls wear padded bras than show their actual developing breasts. I understand this in theory, but I don’t get how calling attention to a girl’s fake breasts is better than showing her age-appropriate body.
I have to admit that amid my happiness at discovering that the offending product was no longer available online was a bit of a sinking feeling. How much better were the suits that were currently available? Sure, there’s no overt “padded” option, but now there are string bikinis, described as “lightly lined”.
Abercrombie is a notoriously sexualized brand which has profited from its ability to raise heart rates…and eyebrows. There is some question, in fact, of whether this suit was designed solely as a PR move, a sure-fire way to call people’s attention to the fact that there actually IS an Abercrombie Kids. But the company may have to sacrifice some of this power to titillate if they hope to successfully translate the brand to younger children—and especially to the parents of younger children. While teens are likely to have their own disposable income and do at least some of their shopping on their own, marketing to younger children requires total buy in from adults.