For many women, swimsuit shopping is a dreaded chore. The often humiliating experience of trying on bathing suits under the harsh glow of dressing room lighting is enough to make you want to forget the pool and stay indoors. But if buying a suit for yourself is bad, buying one for your young daughter can be worse.
The suits on offer for girls as young as six are often high cut, low cut and downright skimpy. You want her to dress her age. Swimsuit designers want her to dress like a fully-grown woman. And since your average 7-year-old girl doesn’t have what it takes to actually fill out a sexy little two-piece, designers are happy to help with strategically placed pads built right in to the bikini tops.
But just because a store wants to sell breast-enhancing bathing suits to little girls doesn’t mean parents are going to buy them. In fact, a clothing chain in the UK is on the defensive after receiving numerous complaints about just such a bikini.
Primark, a discount clothing chain, has apologized for stocking sparkly bikinis with padded bra tops for kids as young as 7-years-old. After outraged parents and child protection officials accused them of encouraging pedophelia, the store quickly pulled the offending items from the shelves and promised to donate profits from those already sold to a children’s charity.
While I think the outrage over this particular suit might be a little overblown (the padding looks more like thick lining, which is good, right?), I agree with the sentiment. Young girls are being encouraged to grow up much too quickly in far too many ways.
But it’s going to take a lot more than the banishing of one padded bikini to reverse this trend. After all, if there are profits to be donated from the sales, that means some parents bought them. Until more parents close their wallets to the clothes, magazines, movies, toys, etc. that all contribute to the early sexualization of girls – absolutely nothing will change.
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