Stop Dressing Your Daughters In Suggestive Clothes

Janelle Harris

young girl Playing dress upAbercrombie & Fitch's push-up bikini marketed toward kids makes me angry. Anything padded for girls as young as 7 is just trifling. But it’s funny that so many of us are expressing so much heated outrage when the fashion industry has been dressing our little girls up in inappropriate clothes for a mighty long time.

My number one most hated article of kid clothing: pants with slogans or names slathered across the booty. Let it be known that I detest them on grown women, too. If you want to use your rump as a billboard, that’s your business. But why make a minor’s behind the focal point of her outfit? I don’t want anybody staring at my daughter’s butt for any reason. Her backside is off limits as a point of conversation.

Aside from those horrid britches, we buy — and buy into — plenty of other products that make our daughters look older. Weaves. Heels. Makeup. Sexy undies. Suggestive screen tees. And yes, two-piece bathing suits.

And I’m not just talking about the padded, down-with-Abercrombie & Fitch kind, either.

If the point of a two-piece is to show more flesh, why would I put my little girl in one? Tween Drama Queen has been shut down on several occasions when she’s come running up to me in a store with a split-level suit dangling from a hanger and a hopeful look in her eye. My question to her is always: “Who are you trying to be sexy for, Skylar?” She gets the drift and takes the offending garment right back to its rightful spot on the rack for other moms clearly not as prudish as I am to purchase.  
Now, I’m all for making good use of the wonderful accoutrements of being a girly girl (yay for being a girl!). One of the beauties of being born female is the adventure of playing dress up, whether you’re doing it with your mama’s stuff when you’re a kid or doing it when you’re a working woman with a Visa and a penchant for anything new and fresh at the MAC counter and shoe department in Macy’s. (Guess I just told on myself. Guilty as charged.)

But there’s a big difference: as a woman, I’m mentally and emotionally mature enough — and physically equipped, if need be — to handle the attention I may get if I wear a low-cut blouse that puts my cleavage on full throttle. Same thing if I opt to wear an itty bitty mini skirt and a pair of sky-high heels. If a dude is stupid enough to go beyond looking and venture into touching, I know how to make him draw back a nub.

Sexy dressing is the right of any woman who wants to do it, but it does come with a certain level of maturity and responsibility that girls in their tweens and teens just don’t have yet. So why suit them up — and set them up — for attention from leering men and disgusting pedophiles and nasty perverts and just overall seedy folks who don’t have the scruples to differentiate a child from a grown-up? With John Walsh calling so many sex offenders out in the regular on America’s Most Wanted, why put your daughter’s goods on display to tempt and tantalize folks in the first place?

Aside from the external threat, we send an underlying message to young girls when we support the fashion industry’s inappropriate, teenie bopper flesh peddling. Sexiness has less to do with how much skin you show and so much more to do with how you carry yourself, how confident you are, and how you feel about yourself inside, which translates to how you work your beauty outside. Sex appeal doesn’t come packaged in a $30 padded bikini. It comes with developing a real sense of self-love, which I’d much rather help my daughter cultivate than her collection of thigh-high socks and short mini skirts.

I tell The Girl all the time: you only have a short period of time to be a kid. So be a kid. Boobs will be there. Your booty will be there. They ain’t going anywhere. In fact, all of your womanly curves will be there — when you are in fact a woman. But for now, let’s just enjoy the freedom of being young and carefree and let me do the womanly stuff.

Do you think clothing and accessories for young girls are too sexy? What's on your "don't even try it" list for your daughter?

Image via Lorena Cupcake/Flickr

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