From Vesta Vayne at her must-read blog The Cowardly Feminist, “Itsy bitsy bikini”:
Did you guys read about Elizabeth Hurley’s line of sexy kiddie bikinis?
Much like the author of the article, for me, the problem is a combination of two things – the bikini itself and the child model’s pose or, I should say, the pose she was instructed to do by someone. If she had floaties on her arms and was building a sandcastle, I might not have focused as much on the pint-sized string bikini. What really bothered me, however, was the wording that apparently went along with the pictures on Hurley’s site, such as a caption next to a bikini for the 8-13 age range, which said “great for girls who want to look grown up”. I checked out her site, elizabethhurley.com, to see for myself, and received an error message. I can only assume her reps are doing some damage control with regards to either the pictures or the descriptions.
It’s even worse when you go to Hurley’s website — which is still very much up. Here’s a screenshot from the UNDER 8 page which I’m not all that happy about posting here, but which seems necessary to preserve as evidence:
Vesta poses the usual questions to stir up debate about whether it’s better for young girls to wear very adult swimwear.
Here are a few questions that were on my mind: how do the fathers of the girls wearing these swimsuits look at themselves in the mirror in the morning? Do these men actually feel comfortable taking their girls in public with strangers seeing them dressed like this? Are they in denial about the damage done to an 8-year-old girl training to be “sexy” or do they not care? Or would most fathers today be proud of daughters growing up to be underwear models and porn stars?
My wife and I don’t have children yet. We’re still on the training wheels (dog ownership) with Maura, our 3-year-old Siberian Husky puppy. We generally talk about having kids “10 or 15 years down the line,” long after she’s finished graduate school and we’re both at secure levels in our careers.
But the switch has flicked over all the way. While for years I wavered on “Oh, well maybe some day I’ll be a dad,” now it’s “Yes, I will need to be a father some day.” (Some of my PJ colleagues and regular writers I work with who are recent dads have no doubt been influences, too.)
So nowadays, in preparation for someday being a dad, with every little girl I see I make a conscious point to think “this is another man’s daughter.” And then: “Whatever she’s doing is his responsibility. Her growing up protected into a strong young woman is his responsibility. She is the single most important thing he should be dedicating his life to now.”
What do you guys think? Is it a problem or no big deal?
These swimsuits are made and manufactured by people who do not understand human evil. They are purchased by parents who do not understand human evil. And the children who grow up wearing them will therefore not come to understand human evil until after they’re victimized by it first hand.
But let me spell it out for those who want to deny it: when a woman wears a skimpy swimsuit, she is sending off the signal to every man and boy that she is a self-proclaimed slut and the most interesting thing about her is her body. If a woman didn’t want a man to look at her breasts, if she did not want to use them to attract the kind of men who have no self-control, she would not flash them around.
Perhaps here’s how I’d lay it out to my not-yet-existing daughter someday: Sweetheart, the more honey one pours out, the more flies you will attract. Now’s the time for you to wear girl swimsuits. When you’re a woman, you and your mother can decide if you want to wear these swimsuits some women wear. If you do — and even if you don’t — then we’re going to want to make sure that you know how to use your stinger.
This used to be common sense — dress like a tramp and men will treat you like one — but saying this makes me “the American Taliban” or the next coming of Puritanism or something. So be it.
Update: Another post from me with more on the debate about this subject:
The Difference Between Sexy Bikinis and Slutty Thongs — And Why Little Girls Should Wear Neither
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