All the parental rage over the push-up bikini tops for young girls at Abercrombie & Fitch got my attention recently. Yes, it’s swimsuit season and the marketing machine, fueled with morality, has exploded in the faces of many a concerned family.
I’ve seen the mostly nylon–yuk–bikinis on every network news and cable program. The title of “push-up” has been dutifully replaced by “striped” by A&F to calm the masses.
The classic reaction of most any child is to crave whatever their parent rejects. Ding! Thanks Abercrombie & Fitch. Why pay any more big advertising bucks than you have to when a scowling George Stephanopoulos poses beside the striped and plaid tea cup-sized swimsuits for a Good Morning America close-up? Sold.
Yes, this is too early to be concerned with a flattering bustline and frankly, there is nothing to push up at this point. Despite the soaring number of grade school age females who begin their menstrual cycles years before once-normal puberty (See: hormones in our meat production), does not prove any desire to rush maturity in other areas.
Do some scary math: These girls were breastfeeding only six or seven years ago. Now the wizards of cool on Madison Avenue want them to have boobs of their own.
Does anyone remember the days of flat teens stuffing their bras with tissue? I said teens. Not third graders. I don’t see where progressive fashion marketing is doing the boys any favors. What would they do, anyway? Makes me laugh but I won’t go there. The goal is to enhance the female to the hilt, put puberty on an express track and then, perhaps, the maturity gap between boys and girls might close? Who knows.
The “sexualization” of the youth market seems to have either reached a new peak or a new low, can’t tell. I’m not sure who made the first skirt that allowed women to show their ankles in public but the fashion market has been offending the prudish population for centuries. The fact that we, as a species, finally threw a bear skin over our naked bodies was a cultural milestone,
Remember the stir about the Coppertone girl? Hey, a toddler’s bum is cute. Still, it rocked a few uptight peeps. Years later, the swimming baby on the Nirvana “Nevermind” cover had many folks running to swaddle the aquatic model. We as a loving nation and a caring village, if you will, don’t want our children to be put at risk. We don’t want them to be the cause of it, either.
Then again, there had to be a number of parents or friends of families that have bought and wil continue to give A&F as well as other designers reason to create such items in the first place.
But I digress…
I first noticed this push for adulthood in the doll market. About ten years ago, my friend and I were shopping for a birthday present. Our friend’s five-year old daughter would be getting a life-size doll for tea parties, dressing up and generally dragging around the yard. At Toys R Us, we encountered row after row of sassy, scantily dressed dolls complete with painted faces ala Britney Spears. These dolls were not going to settle for a picnic with plush toys and a kindergartener, they were ready for a lap dance. We abandoned that gift theme and moved toward board games.
The pageant industry can claim responsibility for many a depressed or manic young lady. Of course, this trend seems to be designed for and by the mothers. Jon Benet will forever be the poster child for tragedy in that ilk of society. Her fate hasn’t slowed them down enough. But don’t get me started.
So, the sexualizing of children is not the latest breaking news on the crawl. Some stores just seem to have better publicists. It’s one thing to appeal to the boy next door but what about the predator down the street?
Over the past decade or so, I have arrived at a theory about this message.
Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t want kids to look sexy. They want kids to get laid.