Clothing store peddles filth

By | March 31, 2011

“A push-up bikini top with padded cups crafted to create the appearance of a larger chest,” is how ABC News described the skimpy cloth. One irate parent posted on a blog, “The pushup bra is effectively a sex tool. How is this OK for a second grader?”

Child psychologist Michael Bradley, appearing on “Good Morning America,” said the company “should be ashamed” for sexualizing young girls. “This is just wrong. It’s hurting people.”

Bradley said the company is causing harm in young girls in four ways.

• It is shaping their beliefs. “It’s teaching them that this is their primary value in this culture,” he said.

• It is shaping their behavior. “You find that kids who get into this stuff … do get into high risk sexual behavior.”

• It distorts their self image. “You tell them you’re not OK as you are, you have to use this stuff.”

• It takes their childhood away. “We put them into this pressurized high anxiety world they are not ready to handle,” said Bradley. “It’s part of why there’s so much anxiety in kids.”

On Monday the company changed the bikini line on its Web site from pushup triangle to plain triangle. The company posted a note on its Facebook page Monday morning:

“We’ve re-categorized the Ashley swimsuit as padded,” it said. “We agree with those who say it is best ‘suited’ for girls age 12 and older.”

Public pressure — not common sense or moral decency — caused the company to change its marketing plan. And don’t be mistaken. The illicit bathing suit was part of the company’s marketing strategy.

But have they learned a lesson? Judging by its history of peddling inappropriate clothes to teens and preteens, it’s doubtful. In 2002, the company marketed “thong” underwear for 10-year-old girls, with patches on the front declaring “eye candy” and “wink.” Before that, they published clothing catalogues with paritally nude teens.

Isn’t it time our outrage against Abercrombie and Fitch is transformed into action? For too long they’ve put profits above decency and now it’s time for us to put decency above their profits.

There are other trendy clothing stores that are deserving of our business. One example is Patagonia (www.patagonia.com), which is a socially responsible clothing company based in Ventura, Calif. Patagonia is hip and fashionable, with an eye toward corporate responsibility. Perhaps readers have other suggestions. Why not share them in a letter to the editor.

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