Pickaninny Papers Search
Powered by Squarespace
Gender & Sexuality Archive

Roundtable: Michelle O, Beauty, and the Strong Arm of the Media

Karima: Roland Martin hosted a very interesting conversation with four black female actors from TV and film, about the negative criticism Lady Obama receives on her style and body type. The discussion progressed ultimately to black


Roundtable: 8-Year-Olds in Padded Bras and Thongs, Really?! 

Nichole: Ladies, what do you think of Abercrombie & Fitch's decision to sell push up bikini tops to little girls? Other than, this is ridiculous. I read the recent New York Times profile of Miranda Cosgrove, which in describing tween girl stars'


Roundtable: Shaken By Sexual Violence

Lucinda: An 11-year-old girl is gang raped by a group of men and boys. It’s captured on cell phones. The authorities begin an investigation just after Thanksgiving, because one of the girl’s classmates tells a teacher about the video.


Gender & Sexuality



Entries by Nichole (1)


Roundtable: 8-Year-Olds in Padded Bras and Thongs, Really?! 

Nichole: Ladies, what do you think of Abercrombie & Fitch's decision to sell push up bikini tops to little girls? Other than, this is ridiculous. I read the recent New York Times profile of Miranda Cosgrove, which in describing tween girl stars' journey to adulthood, suggests that the passage is often through expression of overwrought sexuality (i.e. Jamie Lynn Spears, Miley Cyrus, et. al.). A couple of the commenters raised an important point--why do we think that the only way for girls to mature into adults is by becoming sexy instead of smart, engaged people? I'm very perturbed by that because it persists through women's adulthood. I mean, I love Stacy and Clinton, but why must I feel "sexy" to be dressed well and appropriately? I feel like women are constantly supposed to be exuding "sexiness" as a marker of their femininity. Is sexy really the foundational component of our personalities? Of course, this also has ramifications as to how we teach our sons to engage with girls as equals.

Karima: I saw this on Good Morning America this morning. Abercrombie and Fitch also marketed thongs for young girls with "Wink wink" stiched onto the underwear. I don't have any children but I am appalled. This is frightening because why should 7-12 yr old girls be prepping to look sexual? This is candy for sexual predators. To put my 2 cents in on the point of why girls are encouraged to be sexy in order to welcome adulthood is this belief that the only worth a woman has is her womb so lets make her desirable enough for an old man to want to stick it to her. The old man wants to own her womb and dictate what happens there.

Lydia: Karima, I'd forgotten about the thong! Why are they so committed to supporting the sexualization of little girls? That takes the disturbance level to a new high. Clearly, they aren't making a lot of money on these clothes since people are outraged as soon as they hit the racks. I would imagine these products have to go through many hands to make it from the idea stage to the clothing rack and to think no one had the ovaries to stop it makes me angry.

Lydia: I just checked the Abercrombie Kids website and the bikinis are only available in sizes small through extra large, which, according to their size chart, are for girls 56" and up. I consulted a growth chart and 56" is the height of an eleven or twelve year old girl. Still on the young side for a padded bra but not nearly as disturbing.

Nichole: Do you think so? Doesn't it still put a lot of pressure on a young girl to think of her body in highly sexualized ways and to conform to that highly sexed body type?

Lydia: I can remember when I was ten, standing in line for lunch with a couple of girls from my class discussing who had started to get boobs and who hadn't. It wasn't about, in my mind at least, about sex or being sexy so much as a sign of being more mature, growing up. If you had signs of growth, you were more mature somehow.

Nichole: Yes, I can see that.  And perhaps I'm too attached to my Twitter feed and trending topics, but your memory calls to mind a story that shows how much has changed from when we were in middle school and going through puberty and now.  Now, the scourge of "sexting" makes public what once was private or limited to a small circle of friends. I guess I'm wondering how much private space tweens have to grow and explore their identities?

Lydia: Fair point. Times have certainly changed in that respect. The discussion amongst girls about how they are changing and growing up doesn't seem to happen anymore. It goes directly to publicly being "sexy" for some hormone-addled boy or even grown men which the padded bikini tops and thongs plays into directly. 


Related article: Sexy—Not the Be-All and End-All