Once a year, before the school year starts, my daughters go shopping with my mom. It’s their annual treat, a chance to buy new clothes from a real store. The rest of the year, we get our clothes second-hand from swaps, hand-me-downs from friends, and the occasional trip to Goodwill.
There’s something magic about starting the year off with some fresh new things. Watching my mom carry on this ritual with the girls brings back all my memories of school shopping during my own childhood, too. I love the little fashion show the girls put on when they get home with their loot.
All of this is to explain why my six-year-old has a leopard print miniskirt. It was a gift from their Nana during their annual pilgrimage to LL Bean, and I couldn’t bear to take it away from her. Ditto the bikini that showed up from a different relative on her birthday last year.
You’d think wearing a tiny bikini or a leopard print skirt would make my first grader look strange, but she’s just doing what all the kids around her do. Sexy clothes for girls this age have become the norm.
Sexy clothes are so normal that up to a third of clothes for girls have “sexy” characteristics. According to the researchers, a lot of these clothes have features that are cutesy and childlike, while also having sexualized features that emphasize the appearance of non-existent breasts and curves. As they told United Press International:
“Confused parents might be persuaded to buy the leopard-print miniskirt if it’s bright pink,” the study authors say. “Clearly, sexiness is still visible beneath the bows or tie-dye colors. We propose that dressing girls in this way could contribute to socializing them into the narrow role of the sexually objectified woman.”
I remember getting “sexy” clothes as newborn gifts for my baby; there’s no age at which clothing makers don’t make sexy little things for girls to wear. I admit there’s something adorable about miniaturized biker jackets and baby leopard-print. But does anything in a 0-3 month size really need breast darts and a plunging neckline?
Why do people make these sexy things for little girls? We don’t really want little girls to be putting their bodies on display as sex objects. Do the designers just think it’s cute to dress girls like grown-ups? Is it simple silly fun?
I’d rather my kids didn’t have any “sexy” clothes, but I haven’t been able to keep their wardrobes completely clear of them. Do you worry about the sexy stuff your kids wear, or has it just become the normal look? Does the mini-adult fashion strike you as cute or creepy?