It was all purple and glittery. Inflated stars and hearts hung from the ceiling. It sold super cool pens with feathers and sparkles on them and matching, scented pads of paper. I silently cursed that I discovered this place so near the end of the school year and not in late August when it could have made me the envy of all of my classmates.
My mother, a sucker for my I-want-it-all-face, smiled down at my wide-eyed wonderment and told me I could get one thing. Just one.
Well, this wasn’t a decision to be taken lightly. I wandered the store, picking things up, putting them back down and occasionally sniffing things when it was required. And then I saw it. The thing I absolutely had to have and would simply die if my mom didn’t get it for me.
It was a two piece bathing suit.
But not just any two-piece bathing suit. It had a peach top that wasn’t smooth like other bathing suits, but ruched (no I didn’t know that word at the time, I just thought it was cool) and a turquoise blue bottom with a sash of peach flower pattern on a turquoise blue background. It looked so tropical. Like something one of my Barbies would wear. In short it was the most beautiful bathing suit I had ever seen.
When I tried it on, well, there was just no denying that this suit was made for me. Not even my mom could deny the beauty of that bathing suit.
It was one of the happiest days in my young life. No more silly, childish one-pieces with Miss Piggy on the front and ruffles along the bottom. I had a two-piece. I was a grown-up. I was eight-years-old.
Now this two piece bathing suit that I was so proud of had a top looked like a sports bra and the bottom was a brief cut, with the sash around the waist covering my belly button. It was nothing like the bikini my much older sister wore. It survived diving into pools, hardcore games of Marco Polo, body surfing, water slides, and running away from the neighborhood boys. After all, I was still an eight-year-old girl and I literally spent my summer in that swim suit.
And while I remember a lot of things about that summer, the one thing I don’t remember is ever feeling fat or too pale or as if my boobs were too small to fill it out my awesome swimsuit. Heck, I didn’t even have boobs at eight. I did worry that someone would see too much of my backside as I got off the speed slide at Wildwater Kingdom. I was petrified of spilling blue snow cone “juice” on the front of my suit and ruining it forever. I was also scared about who my third grade homeroom teacher was going to be and whether or not my best friend and I would be in the same class. But never once did I worry about my chest being too small.
Why am I bringing this up? Because Abercrombie & Fitch has just released its new padded, push-up triangle-top bikini – the Ashley – for girls ages 7 to 14.
Think about that. Second grade girls owning a padded, push-up bikini top. I saw the thing laying on a table on the Today show – it has about as much padding as one of my padded, push-up bras. But I am an insecure 32-year-old woman. I’m allowed padding.
These are young girls that aren’t supposed to know that they are flat-chested yet. They have their whole lives to be insecure about their bodies and whether or not they are attractive to the opposite (or same) sex. Why are we pushing this on them? Why, when the one thing they should be looking for in a swimsuit top is whether or not it will come off when jump off the high dive at the pool, are retailers telling them that they need bigger boobs to look good in a bikini?
What upsets me more than Abercrombie & Fitch thinking this is okay – let’s be honest, A&F is evil and they will continue to do these outlandish things just to keep their name in the media – is that there are probably parents out there that will buy this bathing suit for their daughters.
Which is why instead of calling for a boycott of this despicable institution (actually I can’t imagine a lot of my readers shop at A&F so boycotting won’t do much good) I say we buy them out of these suits and then destroy them. Yes, I realize buying these suits will just pad A&F’s bottom line, but let’s be honest, as long as there is babysitting and paper route money, that chain isn’t going anywhere. However, there is a higher purpose that needs to be met here. We need to keep these suits off of our young girls.
We need to give them another summer (or more if possible) of not caring how they look in their swimsuits. Another summer just assuming they look awesome. Another summer when their biggest worry is a water-slide wedgie.