Back when I was a kid I lived in jeans, loose turtlenecks, and pigtails. Not tight jeans either, or jeggings, or anything remotely sexed up. Kids today, thanks to many retailers, are being exposed to sexualized clothing at a young age.
Abercrombie and Fitch, in particular, has had a history of marketing sexualized clothing to kids in the 7 to 14 year old range. The debut of their thong underwear for girls in this age range caused quite an uproar, as did their T-shirts which featured text such as ‘Anatomy Tutor’ on the front. Now, they are garnering criticism for a pushup bikini top, available for seven to fourteen year olds.
Sadly, this retailer is not the only one to carry sexualized clothing for young children and teenagers. According to Today.com, five out of fifteen retailers studied carried sexualized clothing such as very short shorts, suggestive T-shirts, and skin-tight jeans. Marketing suggestive clothing for young children can cause image problems later. Are we, as parents, dressing our kids too sexy? What can we do about it?
Girls today have a whole slew of image issues that I did not even know existed back when I was a kid. Because of the media, girls and women are inundated with images of super-thin, flawless, and very sexy people advertising a variety of “must have” products such as pushup bikinis for children. Dressing in suggestive clothing can lead to the “wrong” kind of attention from males, as well as lead to eating disorders, self-esteem issues, and even depression. Some young girls are getting the message that what is on the outside matters far more than what is on the inside, and that being perceived as sexy is how they will find acceptance from their peers. Furthermore, young children do not even understand what it means to be sexual, yet they are being besieged with the message that they must dress that way.
Are we making it a big deal?
There are parents out there who wonder what all the fuss is about. They say that kids are just kids and they do not even know what is wrong with these clothes. Surely, skin-tight jeans on a seven year old isn’t really a big deal unless we make it one? Kids just want to be accepted and to do that, they want to wear what all their friends are wearing. Wouldn’t they still be at risk for low self-esteem or depression if they didn’t fit in anywhere because of their clothes?
Some parents think it is best to ignore these retailers; that making a big deal about it is just drawing attention to them. Honestly, I was not aware of Abercrombie’s pushup bikini or the drama surrounding it until I heard about it in the media, which certainly proves that point.
It is our job as parents to decide for our children what is acceptable or not. You may not be able to control what your fourteen year old wears as easily as you can your seven year old, but talking to them about the core issue—how they see themselves—is the most important thing. We need to teach our kids that they are worthwhile and attractive because of who they are, not because of what they wear.
What do you think? Are our kids dressing too sexy?