Start ‘Em Young

Pigtail Pals‘ Melissa Wardy writing about actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s endorsement of a line of swimwear marketed for preschoolers:

Pay special attention to what the child is doing in the ad: she is wearing a bikini that for an adult woman would be considered sexy, sitting still and paging through a fashion magazine, she looks to be four or five.

See, if the data wasn’t already there, we could agree to disagree on this. You could say ‘oh what’s the harm? it’s cute!’; I could say: no, it’s really pretty stupid.. as Melissa points out, a kid can’t be a kid at the beach or pool dressed in that thing.. Better she sit there, looking cute, just like Mom. But the data is there. The eating disorders, the compulsion to obsess about body image (as early as 4). I’m curious if at least some of the potential buyers for this type of thing are the same folks who feel the subculture on display in Toddlers in Tiaras is A-OK, and the routine I wrote about in an earlier post– where the tots are performing some really suggestive ‘dance’ moves to a suggestive, adult-themed dance track- is also cute, and perfectly harmless.

As for the magazine she’s holding..

What do we know about fashion magazines and their direct impact on women’s body image?

If we’re paying any attention at all, we know lots. Apparently there’s a lot of people still not paying attention. I ask you: what better way is there for a (very) young lady to spend the carefree  hours of her youth than staring at images designed to make her feel like she doesn’t measure up?

This specific kind of swimsuit limits how a child can experience playing in the water/beach and reinforces the message it is more important what your body looks like to others than what you can do with it.

I’ll say it- I do think there’s a sizable number of people who believe that message. For them, their child’s appearance is a much bigger deal than that child’s character, or even anything the child might accomplish or stand for. It seems ridiculous; anybody with half a functioning bean should know better, right?

As for Melissa’s comments regarding the rest of the page she links to, well, the publication is a rag. They deliver shallow, vapid crap for people who aren’t interested in much else I guess.

I’m thinking business is booming.

Maybe Lady Gwyneth has simply never considered this point of view. I’d love to hear her address these concerns.