The Assault on Girlhood!

I just happened to catch this on;  the saga of a department store that pulled a padded bikini top off of its shelves.  This product was aimed at girls as young as seven years old.  The article stated:

“Popular U.K. discount retailer Primark has pulled a line of sexy padded bikinis from its shelves after complaints from child protection agencies and criticism from a tabloid newspaper.

The bathing suits had enough padding in the halter top to make girls as young as 7-years-old look like they had breasts. They came in both black and white polka dot, and hot pink with gold stars.

The Sun newspaper ran a front page story Wednesday criticizing the suits. Soon after, child protection agencies started making calls to the retailer, saying the swimwear encouraged sexualization of children.

Dr. Keith Ablow, Fox News Medical A-Team member and psychiatrist, said he thinks that sexy clothing like these bathing suits can be dangerous to young girls.

“It can be psychologically damaging to encourage girls at age 7 or close to that age to consider themselves as sexually attractive to boys or men,” Ablow told”   

I am glad this store pulled these, although how sad that  it took complaints to get this accomplished.  It shows what those of us who are trying to preserve childhood and innocence for our girls can be up against at every turn.   In this day and age, I wish more parents would stand up!

  • Why is it that parents think all things media are okay for children under the age of 10?
  • Why is it that so many parents take children under the age of six to movies that are not only G, but PG and PG-13 if it is “kid- themed”?
  • Why is it that the clothes for young girls are geared toward sexuality instead of childhood?
  • Why is it that we think it is okay for small children to spend their days in school at desks writing out worksheets?  What happened to hands on learning and starting academics at the right time?  We used to learn how to read in the first grade in this country, why has that disappeared forever?  Can we bring it back?
  • Why is it that parents are so busy they don’t have time for their own children or why is it that we have parents that treat their children like a job so that they must hover over the children and control every detail of their lives?

Please stand up with me.  Shop from retailers who provide clothing that look like something a young girl should be wearing – feel free to leave your favorite child clothing lines in the comment boxes in order to help other mothers.  Have your child be the last one in your neighborhood or his or her classroom to have a cell phone, to see a movie.  Recently at my child’s German school, the teacher asked all the children to name their favorite toys.  Out of the whole class of seven to nine year-olds only my daughter and one other little girl named something that was not electronic and that did not involve a screen!  Help your children flourish in imagination!  This age between 7 and 14 is especially crucial for that.

This phenomenon of taking away our children’s childhoods and innocence, but yet then stretching their adolescence longer and longer before they can become independent,  is harmful.

Please take a stand with me for the sake of our children.



35 thoughts on “The Assault on Girlhood!

  1. Amen, sister! My oldest of three daughters gets a little miffed sometimes, as 95% of our clothes shopping is at Kohl’s and Land’s End. Unlike many of her peers, she wears clothes that are actually made to COVER UP most of her skin (weather-appropriate, to be sure), rather than wearing clothes that could easily double as strip-show fodder (for lack of a better term).

    Your point is exellent, and not expressed anywhere enough. I will pass along a link to this post on my blog, on twitter, and via email to my friends with daughters. Maybe we’ll make a movement out of this yet!

    Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks Melissa and Amy! I cannot believe we are the only parents out there….”The Hangover”, wow…but that is exactly what I am talking about…and then we marvel at why teenagers are so jaded, depressed, burned out, cynical.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I recently had a spirited discussion with my mother in law about what constituted appropriate attire for my 21-month-old daughter. Specifically: there is no need for a little one to wear a two piece bathing suit, regardless of how “cute” it is or that her other cousins have one. I was accused of being modest to the point of Puritan. And modesty aside, how could a bathing suit so little be practical for small children on the move? I pointed out that sand would get caught in the straps and that it would require diligent and frequent sunscreen use to keep her safe. In the end, she’ll hit the beach this summer in a long-sleeved surf shirt and shorts down to her knees, and I trust she’ll happily scoop sand without me chasing her down for another sunscreen rub.

    As parents, my husband and I often are accused (jokingly and not-so-jokingly) of being overprotective of our two little ones (both under three) because we highly restrict the media they are exposed to. Our children’s cousin, a girl just a few months older than they, gets to go see movies with her parents – including recent visits to see “The Hangover.” While other parents were laughing at the little girl’s retelling of choice scenes from the movie, I could help but feel that she would have appreciated an afternoon at the playground a bit more.

  3. Thanks Carrie. Shopping for a 7 year old size eight little girl has turned into my most time consuming pursuit. Especially now that it’s bathing suit and sundress time. It’s so sad that the pretty little girl dresses only go up to size 6 ( it that). I find I spend a lot more on the clothes for her than i’d like but that otherwise there is not enough coverage or the right fabric and style for a little girl. I love april cornel. You can get great sale pieces, they last a long time ( several kids can wear) and they are not too baby or too big girl. But they are not inexpensive. Actually, today in our county we just had a kids nearly new sale at the fair ground where I found some great second had pieces. My girls only want dresses, hate pants. So we need dresses for the woods/play, too.
    I’d be very happy to hear where other mom’s are finding clothes for this age, girls. And PLEASE, does anyone know where I can find overalls ( it’s a special request from the oldest).

  4. What a timely post! I just turned on my computer a few minutes ago to find that I had a Facebook friend request from my son’s friend. The boy is 7 years old! I’m flabbergasted!

    • Lisa – UGH! I am flabbergasted…what is wrong with setting boundaries and looking forward to things as one grows up??

  5. I very much agree that we need to let our children just be kids and to encourage them to do the “simple” age appropriate things that they enjoy. I do find it very sad that most children can’t just play. That they have been overwhelmed by electronic toys that play for them. We’ve been fortunate enough to have only a couple electronic toys and have just removed the batteries. For example, we couldn’t find a sit ‘n spin that didn’t play music. We have just never added the batteries and its as much or more fun without. My mother thinks we’re horribly mean to do such a thing and depriving our son.
    As for clothing styles, they are so sad. Sexualizing girls at such an insanely early age is harmful to both sexes. The girls should just be having fun and dressed in clothing that allows that while the boys shouldn’t have too much to look at or wonder about. Its so sad that breasts are seen as such a sexual thing by so many people and countries and that its ok, but using the breasts for their purpose (breastfeeding) is something that should only occur at home.

  6. This is a great post! It is very encouraging to my and husband I as we try to raise our 6 year old daughter. A lot of her friends love watching Hannah Montana, iCarly, and other teen shows. I just don’t think a 6 year old should be exposed to things like boyfriends, dating and first kisses. We discourage any boyfriend talk but encourage friendships and having fun. My little girl will stress enough over boys when she hits her teen years. I don’t want her stressing over that or anything at this point in her life!

  7. Absolutely unbelievable! Well said Carrie. I once heard it said by a wise Steiner teacher, we have to be ‘warriors for our children’, because every corner we turn and so much of what is acceptable in today’s ‘modern society’ is such an assault on childhood, it robs our children of their RIGHT to childhood. This precious period of childhood is so short in comparison to a life expectancy, why why why do many think it is ok to rush it? This teacher said that we need to be strong, we need to make decisions on what is let into our children’s world. And at the end of the day the heart is where the home is (I know that’s a reverse of how this is normally said) for children and although there may be some protest at a particular point in time because the Jones’ daughter next door that is 2 years younger has one or has been allowed to or whatever, deep down in their soul, children appreciate and are nourished by this boundary and this soul level knowing that they are being guided along their incarnation path in a loving and mindful environment. Again, it can go back to that GD mindfulness of not so much the present moment objection that may arise, but keeping in mind the human being that will develop out of having a protected childhood. I like the words I read on the forum the other day ‘the meanest mums have the nicest children!’ Let the children be children. I’ll stand with ya Carrie! 🙂

  8. I will do anything it takes to help initiate change when it comes to this. It INFURIATES me that we as a society are sexualizing our young girls – talk about sending the message that the way we look and whether or not we are appealing to men makes us whole as women! NOT! I am also disgusted by the irresponsible actions of the movie industry as they continue to inundate children’s movies with violence, sexual innuendo and rude/sassy talk. Most rated PG movies in my opinon all should be considered rated R these days. I hate that when I take my girls out to pick out a bathing suit each summer I cannot find ONE that is geared toward children and doesnt look like it should be on a Victoria Secret’s model. The more we buy into this – the more they will produce it and the more damage that will be done to our children. I’m with you mama. Whatever I can do!

  9. Hi Carrie,

    Thanks for this wonderful post. We just had an incident a few weeks ago when my mother in law told my husband she was going to take our oldest (7) to a movie a as treat. She has never been to a movie but I was thinking okay maybe?? Anyway I asked what movie and he said “Alice in Wonderland” and I said um that is an adult movie. Needless to say, she did not go to the movie. But just to add insult to injury mother in law was at our house later and said that our daughter’s cousin (who is about 6 months younger) had gone to see it and “she wasn’t afraid”. I was so angry I could barely contain myself.

  10. I’m so glad you wrote this, as it’s something I struggle with, too. I have a 7 year old girl and as she grows it gets harder and harder to find age appropriate clothes for her. I’m no prude either, but I like my little girls to look like little girls, not mini teens. I like Gymboree, Hanna Andersson and Mini Boden for girls. Not cheap, I know, but I find a lot at consignments.

  11. My daughter is not even a year old yet, but I have noticed the trend I’m clothing starting to approach even toddlers! After having three boys, I was a bit taken back by this. I also like the clothes from the previously mentioned companies, but I plan to make a good portion of my daughters clothes as well whether it be a dress sewn by me or a sweater that i knitted.

  12. I couldn’t agree more! I was mortified when I went to look for a bathing suit for my daughter at Old Navy (when she was still wearing 6-9 month clothes) and found bikinis! I had to thoroughly search through racks to find a one piece that was appropriate. As she grows I’m sure I will start sewing most of her wardrobe.

  13. I like to find clothing at consignment stores and resales as they sometimes have older styles that are more modest. The worst is dealing with female relatives who are trying to dress your 5 year old in “hip” clothes. I dislike embossed glitter, all the rockstar themed things. Whatever happened to cute things like smocking, real wool, nightgowns etc? Why does a 5 year old need halter tops, things off the shoulder, bikini underwear? *sigh*
    My daughter mostly wears dresses with Gymboree leggings.

  14. Another wonderful post and topic dear to me.

    I feel like there’s an undercurrent in our society quietly rumbling to revolution against the media and other acceptable societal mores which are, at the moment, eroding childhood. I want my children to experience their childhood, not be rushed to grow up.

    This sentiment is not to be confused with the very popular term “helicoptering”. To preserve childhood, we must be be aware and vigilant….

  15. Pingback: A shared view « Practically Unplugged Kids

  16. Wow – I heard about this too. I was shocked the other day when I was in Macy’s to find that once my daughter reaches age 2 all of my options involve media characters like Hello Kitty. My son (6) didn’t fair any better. My options there were hip hop pants and media tshirts/jammies for characters he couldn’t see in the movies even if I did allow him to watch movies because the movies are rated PG13. I was outraged. I never take the kids when I shop for clothes because it is just too weird. I like the Jumping Beans line at Kohls as they have many nice cotton things without pictures/media. I also buy at Lands End, LL Bean, and Hanna outlets/sales. If you’re interested in this further, let me recommend the film Consuming Kids from the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. We showed it at a local restaurant here in St. Louis a month or so ago, and it was fantastic!

  17. I actually buy a lot of my dd’s clothes at Target. They do carry stuff I WON’T buy for her, but the t-shirts and shorts are a reasonable price and nice cotton material. I also get her swimsuits there- they carry a line of ‘rash guard’ tops that I love because she is allergic to most sunscreen, and the one she can use is expensive. With the rash guard top I can use less sunscreen.

    We also shop A LOT at the resale shops. I routinely get Gymboree (which has many cute, girly, age-appropriate items) and Hannah Andersson (ditto) for less than half at a couple of good resale shops. And it’s greener to reuse than buy new (for the enviro and my wallet!)

  18. I love your points and agree on all… with only the point that for us movies are fun. I think film is art (or can be) and we watch movies regularly… but we value so many important things in our home that feel we don’t lose our kids with the movies. Make sense? They really prefer books and outside anyway 🙂 I am going to homeschool, and we place a high priority on family time, the table, praying, playing and learning joyfully.

  19. Unfortunately it’s not the first time that a UK store has been hit by child protection agencies and media because of the type of clothing that they offer, I think it was last year one store (a very popular one but I can’t remember which one) that had padded bras for girls about 8 or so and it is quite usual to see young girls wearing playboy clothes, jewellery, etc.
    For shops I quite like to shop at H&M as they offer some plain or nice prints for both girls and boys with out being too much and they also have some organic cotton shirt at a very reasonable price.

  20. Hi Carrie

    I so agree with you. I also have one another point to offer. Over the summer when we were at the beach or park I have noticed many little girls (toddlers and pre-schoolers) in beautiful little dresses, swimsuites and sandals. But in many cases either the clothes were restricting or inapproppriate for the place or the parents were not allowing the girls to play, run around saying that they will get dirty. Honestly it does my head in!

  21. I am with you Carrie! This is something I’ve heard so many mamas complain about! As the mother of 2 boys, I’ve not had the dilemma of bikinis or sexy dresses but I have to say that I’ve noticed after about age 1 (!!!!) too many toy stores present a similar situation. For girls it’s sexy woman dolls and tiny plastic high heel shoes. For boys it’s over the top aggressive toys. It seems like there is an agenda – training sex objects or brute force bullies. Sexualizing little girls is so creepy and sad. We really do need to be warriors for our children!!!! Shame on these companies!!!!

  22. While I agree padded bathing suits are wrong, I don’t have a problem with bikinis. I prefer them for my 3 year old. There are easier to get on an off for the frequent bathroom breaks she takes. And, at the beach (we were just on holiday), there are less places for sand to hide. (My 3 month old wore a rash guard and swim pants – not that she went in the water or sun much).

    At 3 and 3 months it is pretty easy to find appropriate clothes for the girls. I buy a lot of Boden for both girls, Hanna for the baby and J. Crew for he 3 year old. I worry as they get older, though my older girl like jeans and tees, so that helps. Nothing like jeans with a dress over top for looking cute but still being able to run and climb.

    And toys – I cringed when my daughter went down the Barbie aisle at Target. Thankfully, she walked – only stopping to check out the BArbie bathtub. My girl loves water! Pools, tubs, buckets and bowls, anything she can use as a pool for her fish, dino and animals.

  23. oh that is so scary! When I learned to sew as a child I didn’t realize how much I would sew for my own child. Now I am so thankful and am starting a community sewing center and posting tutorials on my blog and etsy site to teach other mamas to sew. Basic children’s clothes are quite simple to make, and can often be made out of adult clothing, either thrifted or from our closets. They are cool too, and one-of-a-kind! And if they aren’t just perfect, they are only going to be worn for a short time.

    We did not watch many movies as children, and I don’t think we missed much. One time we went to see Jungle Book at the drive-in, and occasionally had movie night when Disney movies were on tv, all piling up on dad. But honestly, wouldn’t a game night or music hootenany have been just as fun and more productive? Is it really cute when kids repeat movie lines or keep telling you the “funny” stories over and over, or just annoying? I’d rather hear them telling their own stories.

    Thanks, Carrie, for putting the word out and taking a stand, I’m with you!

  24. AMEN!!! I feel like I should hand this out as a manifesto to anyone who wants to interact with my kids. Sigh.
    Last year I let my newly 8 year old son have a playdate with a friend…he informed us AFTER he got home that he and his 7 year old friend watched “Freddy v. Jason” and some “clown killers” movie. To say I was enraged is a tiny understatement. Let alone that this parent felt these were appropriate for her son (“he likes scary stuff”) she never thought to check to see if it was okay to let our 8 year old view a rated R movie!
    Sadly, this is not an uncommon complaint among my few like-minded mom-friends. I feel like the majority of parents have lost their minds…or common sense.
    For my 7 year old daughter, I shop Goodwill and consignment.
    I do defer a bit to her “taste” which runs towards what the “big” girls are wearing, but I have a strict no-faces/names on our clothes rule…and our school has a dress code, thank goodness.

  25. I am so with you on this. It truly is an “assault”. It is depressing and sad and heartbreaking. You ARE only young (and innocent) once and it is a shame our society doesn’t let little girls just be little girls. Our daughters deserve more than this.

    I have spent hours looking for a “normal” nightgown (you know, one with fairies or flowers or strawberries) in a size 7 for my daughter (thank you Carters). No thank you Hannah Montana or High School Musical or Hello Kitty or all the other “stuff”!

    I saw someone else said it is hard to find little girl dresses above size 6 – yes it is! (Try end of year sales at Lands End and LL Bean – they have appropriate clothes up to teen sizes).

  26. Pingback: To Childhood « Our Journey 'Round the Mulberry Bush

  27. I couldn’t agree more with all that has been said! We really do need to be strong for our kids, and to stand firmly by our own convictions, even in the face of opposition from society in general, mass marketing and, sadly, some family and friends, too. I read a quote this morning, and I thought it might be appropriate to share it here:

    “Nothing that results in human progress is ever achieved by unanimous consent. Those who are enlightened before the others, are condemned to pursue that light in spite of others.” – Columbus

    So true, yes?? I also wanted to mention an amazing book that you might like to read by an Australian author, Maggie Hamilton. It’s called ‘What’s Happening to Our Girls? Too much, Too soon. How our kids are overstimulated, oversold and oversexed’. Absolutely fabulous book, with some incredible (and frightening) insights. Highly recommended reading for all parents, including parents of boys – like me!

  28. I have to say, I am noticing this more and more since my son was born. It’s awful, too, to try to find clothing for a little boy in appropriate colors that doesn’t have a fire truck, a dump truck, a dinosaur, a dog, or some teenaged themed picture or phrase on it. My aunt sent my son a couple of “cute” teeshirts that have phrases on them that are intended to be humorous, but really seem insulting to my child, to me.

    Why is it that only little girls are supposed to wear purple, orange, or light colors? where are the less-expensive, baby-appropriate soft soled shoes for boys? where are the leggings? the bonnets? the knee socks? the TIGHTS??? why must I order these things from expensive importers, or buy them at expensive shops, or make them myself? that last one is a bit of a problem for me, as I don’t know how to sew well enough to make clothing…

    I recently found a local shop where the proprietor is dedicated to selling appropriate clothing for young children. Some of the patterned fabrics she chooses are a bit busy for my taste, but none of them are media-character-related, and the simple designs accommodate cloth diapers. Yay!!

    While little girls are being turned into sex objects, little boys are being told from a terribly young age that their value lies in being “tough”, in being “cool”, in liking heavy machinery and big, stompy monsters. There seems to be no happy medium in mainstream shops between sloppy, oversized playwear and “little man” clothes.

    • Sara – I agree, I recently saw tiny soft soled shoes for a baby boys….black with skull and crossbones. Yuck.

  29. I recently read this article in Parent Map:

    What struck me most was this paragraph:

    The experts agree: The best way to hold back the “tsunami,” as Metzger calls it, is to manage — and, for most of us, limit — media exposure. “Everything to which you expose your child is an input,” says Bennitt. “In our culture, it’s far too common for parents to not really take charge of that. What it means is that the big business and marketing people are in charge of what is influencing our children.”

    What frustrates me is that this counsel only ever seems to be heard by people who already take it seriously. I’ve lost count of the number of parents who agree that it’s wise to limit media exposure, agree how awful the commercials are, and then go right back to business as usual. I do not proselytize at all, but there’s a bit of defensiveness sometimes when it comes to discussions on how I’m raising my child.

    Clothing for my 7 year old daughter generally comes from Hanna Andersson (on sale, used, or courtesy of my auntie) and Land’s End, or is homemade to the best of my ability. Because my daughter is long-waisted, she wears two-piece “tankinis” that have almost as much coverage as one-piece swimsuits and are convenient for emergency bathroom breaks.

  30. Pingback: Third Grade and The Nine Year Change « The Parenting Passageway

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.