Botox and push-up bras for 8-year olds?

May 16, 2011

Feast your eyes on this:

a padded, push up bra marketed for seven-year-old girls by Ambercrombie Kids.

SEVEN-YEAR-OLD GIRLS. Have you heard about this? It was all over the news a couple of months ago,

Some parents say they’re helpless in the face of this kind of marketing–that when kids want it, they have to buy it. It’s too hard to say “no.”

Other people say dressing kids like this is a way moms compensate for what might have been lacking in their own childhoods, as many stage moms with kids in child pageants seem to do. Regardless, it strikes this non-mom as more than a little sick.

But it’s a complicated subject. So let’s break it down.

First, the retailer:

Abercrombie’s no stranger to this kind of sick product: This is a thong for ten-year olds that they originally marketed using the terms “eye candy, wink wink!”

(cringe) Let’s agree that the retailer wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t profitable. Either they sell a boatload of these sexy kids’ items OR they profit from the attention they get positioned as a daring marketeer.

If people didn’t buy this stuff, if in fact they stopped buying merchandise at Abercrombie because of it, then I’m certain these items would disappear. Since they don’t, the only conclusion is that this kind of marketing works.

I get that Abercrombie has an obligation to their shareholders to make money. But seems to me they also have a moral obligation to protect kids. To do what’s right. Sexualizing kids like this, in an age where child predators are all over the daily news is just plain morally wrong.

What’s next: botox for kids? It is. Turns out a pageant mom is doing this and San Francisco Child Protective Services is now in the mix. That’s right. A mom is injecting her eight-year-old daughter with botox because she “has wrinkles.” The daughter is, after all, a pageant competitor. We’re becoming a crazy society. But I’m digressing. Back to marketing to kids and for kids. UPDATE: The child has been removed from her mother’s care at present.

Parents want laws protecting their kids from advertising and products like Abercrombie’s push-up bra. Because some parents can’t say “no,” they want someone else to do it. I don’t even know where to begin responding to this ridiculous concept.

Children are (mostly) a product of their environment. An important part of parenting (besides providing love) is setting appropriate limits for kids. If parents can’t do that, if they want other institutions to do it for them (such as schools), well, seems to me they’re failing. They may not be overtly abusive. But by abdicating responsibility for making decisions for their kids, they’re setting their offspring up for some bad stuff.

As a society, do we really want to promote the possibility of sexual activity among preteens? Do we want kids to be attractive to molesters? Are parents really helpless to deny kids inappropriate attire if they want it?

Child abductions and sexual attacks have gotten so much publicity in recent decades, I don’t know how parents can ignore this issue. And yet, it seems like many parents are in denial.

Every day on Facebook I see parents post photos of pre-teen and even kindergarten-age girls that would make a child molester salivate. Sweet, beautiful young girls in provocative poses. Would-be young models, like this one in a sequinned top more appropriate for women years older than she is. (No, it’s not a baton twirling outfit or a skating costume. It’s a top.)

It’s one thing to have photos like that at home. If you must. It’s another to post them in a public forum where sick people could obsess over them.

I feel sorry for kids today. There’s almost a societal conspiracy to force them out of the innocence of childhood and into adult concerns even before puberty.

I can’t help but wonder what the consequences will be when these kids grow up.
What do you think?

7 comments on “Botox and push-up bras for 8-year olds?
  1. Kelly says:

    this is another of my soapbox issues you’ve hit on Carol. I’m HORRIFIED at abercrombie. I am just praying that those items are being marketing with that type of overt sexuality because of girls like my friend Valerie who is a size -0 and could probably wear that size even though she’s 28! However, we both know there’s only so many women who fit that category. Ok so when I was 15 I needed padding in my swimsuit cuz I had hips but no boobs and I was so self conscious about it. But at 7? or 10? good GOD I wouldn’t want to see myself naked in the mirror let alone smoosh my wanna be boobies up!! EW!!! and a thong??? frankly I do NOT get the concept at all, ever. panty lines schmanty lines. bah. I HAAAATE thongs and I can’t imagine a 10 year old wanting to wear one, EVER. unless she’s been immersed in such a concept since…potty training!! my daughter (3) would freak the eff out!
    on a dating site recently, I emailed a man SPECIFICALLY because his 2 gorgeous daughters were pictured on his profile. 17 and 21 years old. I mean, gorgeous, not your average “oh your daughters are so cute” daughters. I said “look, you’re a handsome man, you don’t really need the daughter marketing. TRUST me there are a LOT of creeps on this website (I have proof in my in box) and you just do not want your daughters’ pictures floating around here (side note: one daughter was dressed in full cheerleader regalia. HELLO!?! anyone home!?!)
    I went on to tell him that I teach dance for girls his daughters’ ages and I am very mama bear about these types of things so I’m sorry if I offended. He actually was nice. But I’m sure those pictures are still up. Why men market themselves using their kids’ pictures is BEYOND me!! I mean look, MY KIDS are freakin ADORABLE!! but not one pic of them is on those sites. They are on Facebook, which is closely guarded by me and I am very careful what I post. There are NO cute mandy covered in paint in the bathtub shots.
    at the dance studio where I teach, I am proud to say we are very very conservative about music choice and costumes. sometimes to the detriment of my creativity. but many studios are teaching POLE dancing to pre teens. seriously.
    our society is so backwards. we’ve gone from puritanical to salacious.

  2. Lisa Brock says:

    It is beyond horrific and a significant blight on our culture that we condone it. When my 7 year old scoffed at having her name sewn across her cheerleading shorts we were treated like pariahs by other girls & their moms. Not that we cared but it was interesting to note. Why call attention to the butt of an 8 year old? We have got to take a hard look in the mirror on this issue and STOP buying garbage that promotes this garbage. Every time we buy ANYTHING – we are voting ‘yes’ for that product or service and nothing hurts like a big 0 at the cash register.

  3. Lisa, it astonishes me that anyone would buy this stuff for their kids. The Rapture may not be coming this weekend but sometimes I do think it’s like the Fall of the Roman Empire or something. So much craziness.

  4. Oriah says:

    Kids learn from what we do much more than what we say. Kelly wrote: “when I was 15 I needed padding in my swimsuit cuz I had hips but no boobs and I was so self conscious.” I get it- I do- I was a 100 lb 5 foot 9 inch 15 year old- no curves. But the problem is that I and you, Kelly, thought we “needed” padding when we were 15. We didn’t. We needed to know we were beautiful with the bodies we had. But we wanted to look like the 18 year olds. And 12 year olds want to do what 15 year olds do. .. and 8 year olds want to do what 12 year olds do. . . I’m not saying there isn’t anything that’s not appropriate for children that is ok for adults (there is plenty) but I am saying that we can talk all we like but if we, as adults, are doing things to our bodies that hold up one narrow definition of beauty- that is what our children will want to do/emulate. (And none of this let’s parents off the hook- saying “no” is sometimes necessary- that’s part of the job description.:-)

  5. Oriah, I completely agree. All this surgery and enhancement makes these women all look alike: like cyborgs. That’s our standard of beauty: fake. No wonder kids want this stuff.

  6. Goodness. That’s just sick. having been in marketing most of my life, I can just imagine the boardroom marketing meetings where they decided to go ahead with this idea. First question would have been, “Is this likely to upset people?” The answer would likely have been yes, so then we go on to, “What are the benefits (to us) in risking that?” The bottom line, of course, being seen as a leader by the pre-teen fashion buyer, which is huge. “Will there be pressure on parents not to buy this item for their children?” Yes…but greater pressure from their child to go ahead and buy it. “Is it likely to promote child sexuality?” Yes, but we can’t be accountable for that. We are just fulfilling the need.”

    I wonder if the original concept came from a man or woman.

    I place blame not so much on Abercrombie as parents who don’t put their foot down and people like Katie Holmes, who dresses her kid in high heels and other age inappropriate fashions.

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