My daughter inherited a bikini from a friend recently. She loved it, and not just because it’s pink. I think she might like it because of the ruffles, which in addition to being on the list of girly trimmings she approves of (along with lace, glitter, shine and/or sparkles of any sort) happen to be strategically placed. The ruffles are on the triangle tops of the bikini, and they stick out and make her look like she has boobs, or at least some semblance of them. I was not so happy about this, but I wasn’t going to make a stink about it, either. She’s little enough that the idea of being a woman is still like playing dress up for her. The bikini, in fact, was made for babies; it’s a size 18-24 months. I guess it was meant to be seen surrounded by rolls of baby fat. But the new bikinis from Abercrombie Kids are very clear about who they’re for and what they’re meant to do:
The spring line features three styles of tops: triangle, bandeau…and push up. All starting at size 7. The push-up tops must be big sellers—they’re at the top of the list of swim top offerings. Of course, I can see why. When you’re shopping for a bikini, there’s basically one ideal in the universal mind. Even a 7 year old knows you’re supposed to look like the girls in the pages of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
The thing is, it’s our job to show them why that’s not a good idea, not to help them achieve this fantasy sooner.
Maybe the reality of the top on a girl’s body is less disturbing than we imagine. But even the use of the word “push up” is unbelievably inappropriate. The push up bra is, effectively, a sex tool, designed to push the breasts up and out, putting them front and center where they’re more accessible to the eye (and everything else). How is this okay for a second-grader?
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. Right now, somewhere in the world, a girl is shopping at Abercrombie kids and getting the message that her breasts might need a little help. Why not start now, with a push up bikini made special for you?