Abercrombie & Fitch has a push-up bikini in it’s kid’s line.*
The sizing begins with girls as young as eight years old.
Most adults have been rightly horrified.
Because Abercrombie & Fitch is wrong for creating this bathing suit and marketing strategy. And who are these parents buying tiny padded bathing suits for their eight year olds?
But what I want to know is why does the bathing suit exist at all?
Well, I wear padded bras. And I used these weird boob things in my bathing suits over my honeymoon and those are my FAVORITE pictures of me in a bathing suit.
I’m an adult and get to modify my chest any way I want. Well, any way I want and deem to be acceptable or beautiful in our culture.
But I’m also my daughter’s first and strongest role model for the beauty of womanhood.
Whenever I put on knee high boots, my daughter drags out her snow boots to “match mama.”
Why wouldn’t my daughter grow up interested in a padded bathing suit? It’s a grown-up suit. All kids like to play grown-up.
Now, I would never buy it for her. And I would explain in a gentle way why. But that’s where I get stuck. “Why?”
Because you are (hypothetically) eight years old. But by mama’s age, or even by eighteen, you can wish your breast were bigger. You can accept that bigger breasts are sexy. So hold on just a little big longer, my dear.
I can’t come up with a better reason for why I wear padded bras or suits except that, as adults, we allowed to feel less than. We are encouraged. So don’t pay attention to that about Mama. Don’t watch while I shave my legs, apply make-up and add a little cleavage.
I understand that there are all sorts of things adults do appropriately that children should not and cannot do, but I wonder what message I send my daughter when she watches me get dressed. I want to teach her that our bodies are to be respected. And I’m proud at how many beauty trends I balk and how comfortable I am in my own skin today. However, when I pick through my closest and bathroom, I am forced to acknowledge how many I struggle to meet and struggle to ignore.
For example, no one in America is striving for saggy breasts and no one can argue that perky breasts are healthier. So why do we wear push-ups or padding? Well, it fits our standards of beauty. I started with padded bras in high school. Oh, I’ve gone through phases where I wear them and phases where I don’t. I am certainly less concerned with the size of my breasts that I used to be. But I also think that I would look great as a perky C-cup. And I’m not sure why. Am I really so vulnerable to these messages? Whose messages? The movie industry? The pornography industry? The men I’ve encountered? Most high-end fashion models are not large-chested, but most available fashion is cut for larger breasts than mine. Why? And more importantly, why do I care?
While I believe that Abercrombie & Fitch should have higher standards for their clothing lines, it’s also an opportunity to rethink what we model in our daily lives. To not only watch our words but to chose our clothing with care. What are we trying to hide? What do we look to show-off?
Or we should be prepared to explain why it’s okay for us to see our bodies as not good enough while we chastise others for implying that our daughters’ bodies are not enough.
*Abercrombie & Fitch have since re-branded the bathing suits as “lightly padded”; however, the suit LOOKS exactly the same, and I felt that the discussion remains important. Article and photo source.