Abercrombie Kids is marketing push-up bikini tops for tweens. Being that the clothing company makes clothes for ages 7-14, it has caused quite the uproar among parents of 7 year olds who don’t have much there to actually push-up – and are too young to be putting their chest out there front and center anyways. But never fear. Being that the smallest size is for girls 56 to 58 inches tall with a 27.5 to 28.5 bust, the tops are actually too big for a 7 year old, and are more for girls who are 11 or 12 year old or older.
But even that raises some eyebrows. 12 years olds in a push-up bikini? Are we allowing our tweens to be oversexualized too early?
A mom sent me an article the other day regarding this very issue, about how tops have gotten more lowcut and skirts have raised the hem – and how it is OUR cash that is paying for our teens and tweens to dress a lot more promiscuously than should be appropriate.
As for the girls themselves, if you ask them why they dress the way they do, they’ll say (roughly) the same things I said to my mother: “What’s the big deal?” “But it’s the style.” “Could you be any more out of it?” What teenage girl doesn’t want to be attractive, sought-after and popular?
And what mom doesn’t want to help that cause? In my own case, when I see my daughter in drop-dead gorgeous mode, I experience something akin to a thrill—especially since I myself am somewhat past the age to turn heads. (Read more HERE.)
But Jeanne Sager of Café Stir has a different take on what a push-up bikini top is for a tween. It’s less about being oversexualized and more about giving a tween confidence. For those in the “barely there” club, a little extra oomph when all your peers are boasting mini-cleavage on the beach can be the difference between hiding on a towel covered by a shirt or running around in a swimsuit without worries of being compared to a pancake.
A little push-up can go a long way toward making them feel like their top won’t fall off on the beach (because there’s nothing to HOLD IT THERE). So is it sexualization to make kids comfortable? Not really.
A commenter agreed with Jeanne, giving her own experience:
“…I about said I wouldn’t on a 12 year old then i stopped and remembered what it was like for me at 12 with really no chest to speak of and being horribly self conscious about it. I would have done anything to add a couple extra inches onto my bust just to look normal. However for those parents who are about to yell at you they just need to stop and remember that they are the parent and all they have to do is just not buy it if they feel that strongly about it.”
For me, I remember doing everything I could at the age of 12 to hide my body on the beach. Bikini? Uh, no thank you. It wasn’t that I was overdeveloped or underdeveloped, it was that showing that much skin when I was accustomed to hiding under jeans and a baggy sweatshirt was mortifying. And at 13, my own daughter has yet to graduate from her comfy choice of swim trunks to a regular bathing suit. And we’re not alone in this. Plenty of girls are less comfortable in the string bikinis with a slight push-up that Abercrombie has on their racks, and more comfortable in something a little less revealing.
And knowing all that, it actually makes me get the whole “confidence in a push-up” thing. And I can’t say that I would turn my daughter away if she wanted to wear a bikini to the beach that allowed her to move around a bit more comfortably, escaping the awkwardness that goes along with the age – at least for a little while. But at the same time, that very concept makes me cringe a little….because it also seems that the message we are giving girls is that their confidence lies in the size of their breasts, and that being just 12 isn’t good enough.
What do you think? Are we allowing our tweens to grow up too fast, encouraging them to find their sexuality sooner than ever? Or is a push-up bikini top for a 12 year old more about allowing an older tween to feel more confident in a body they normally feel awkward in?