Published March 25, 2011
Swimsuit season is looming, and stores are galore with itty bitty bikinis.
But shockingly, one of America’s largest clothing retail chains, Abercrombie & Fitch, is marketing padded bikini tops to girls as young as eight.
Included in the current spring line for Abercrombie Kids (a division of the fashion company specifically dedicated to 8-14 year olds) is the “Ashley” Push-Up Triangle – a triangular-shaped bikini top which comes complete with thick padding for breast enhancement.
Moms and child development experts are aghast over the garment and the damage it could potentially do to young girls in making them feel inadequate with their pre-adolsecent bodies.
“This is appalling! If a parent buys a padded bikini for an eight year old, children's services should be called! The sexualization of teens is bad enough and now this trend is trickling down to our babies,” parenting expert Dr. Janet Rose told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “If we continue to try to make our children value 'sexy' I shudder to think what damage we are doing to their future self-concepts and adult values. In the long run, I fear we are creating girls who will suffer from low self-esteem and all the issues that go along with that.”
A rep for Abercrombie & Fitch was not immediately available for comment.
Los Angeles-based psychologist, Dr. Nancy Irwin, said wearing a chest-boosting bikini top at such a young age can pave the way for sexual promiscuity.
“Wearing a padded bra at that age when unnecessary is encouraging sexual precociousness, a dangerous muscle to flex for the girl as well as for peers and predators,” she explained.
Human Behavior expert Patrick Wanis PhD concurred that the padded tops are both disturbing and dangerous.
“Are we sexualizing young girls to get the attention of men or to encourage women to use their daughters to compensate for their own lack of sexual appeal by living vicariously through their daughter?" Wanis asked. "Is this the extreme extension of the beauty-pageant mother who now seeks to make up for what she can never be?”
Other experts say the onus is on parents, not the fashion industry, over what young children wear.
“It doesn't matter much, these days, as to what the comments are surrounding what the fashion industry has decided our teeny-bopper sex tantalizers should adorn themselves in. I'm slapping the blame on moms for not seeing any further than their own breast implants when it comes to purchasing push-uppers for girls that don't, as yet, actually have any breasts,” said Shirlee Smith, CEO/Founder of “Talk About Parenting With Shirlee Smith.” “Who is paying for this sexy- kiddie marketing? Mom in the short run, sex object girls in the long run.”