I am the mother of a six-year-old and despite the subject matter that I speak about, write about and research for my day job, we are extremely conservative at home. Just the other day, my daughter chastised me for using the “D” word. It’s probably not what you think…I had commented that something was “dumb”. And, for the record, the word “stupid” might as well be cussing in our household.
When it comes to my own profession, I also realize the prudence in speaking openly about sexual questions that come up. A few have with Riley…although not as many as I was expecting by this age. When she does broach the subject, I ask for clarity on what it is she is trying to learn and why, so that I can answer the question simply and truthfully but not answer too much. (There’s the old joke of the Dad who went into a lengthy explanation about sex to his child who asked “what’s sex”, only to find out that the child had been told by his mother that “dinner would be ready in a few “secs”.) I try to balance healthy candor about the subject of sexuality with the fact that we hold pretty conservative values as a family.
So, I was horrified to learn that Abercrombie & Fitch has just marketed a bikini for 7-year-old girls with a PUSH UP TOP.
Really???? Seriously!?! Are you kidding me!!???
We are facing an epidemic of little girls growing up believing that their bodies are inadequate because of the ridiculous amount of media pressure to be a perpetual size 0, and yet they want to send a message to our 7-year-olds that their pre-pubescent chests are inadequate? It’s ludicrous.
But, as CNN’s LZ Granderson points out, companies such as Abercrombie & Fitch would not sell such items if there were not parents who buy them. Companies have increasingly pushed the boundaries on what is and what is not appropriate for teens and children for years, and have been allowed a ridiculous amount of latitude from parents. As parents, it is our duty to make sure that our children wear items that reflect a healthy amount of self-respect rather than just what is the latest fashion. As Granderson says,
I don’t care how popular Lil’ Wayne is, my son knows I would break both of his legs long before I would allow him to walk out of the house with his pants falling off his butt. Such a stance doesn’t always makes me popular — and the house does get tense from time to time — but I’m his father, not his friend.
Thank you, LZ for making the point that is so often lost on my peers. We did not give birth to children so that we could have life-long buddies. When we chose to produce off-spring, we were making a decision to train these little beings how to love themselves and how love others. Decisions that fall within these parameters do not necessarily make us popular with our children, but they do make us good parents.
Because of my job, I get asked all the time how to talk to kids about sex. There are lots of opinions on that subject – when to start, how much to share, what’s age appropriate information. But I don’t even have to broach any of those points to get to the basic premise here: Talking to your kids about sex includes how you let them dress – or how you choose to dress them.
That’s my take-away for this blog post. But in the interest of fairness, I should say that Abercrombie & Fitch have agreed to remove the term “push up” from the title in favour of the less incendiary “striped triangle”, but have continued selling the padded bikinis.
What are you thoughts?