17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

I got an email from The Gap a few weeks ago, with this image. My immediate reaction was: EW. I really hated seeing this sweet baby tummy with cha-cha boobies. The feelings I had as I reflected on this photo surprised me, and it is causing me to reevaluate my modesty standards.

One side of me thinks: Well, it's a baby, it's a baby's belly...if I was in a situation where my baby was asked to be photographed in that suit for THE GAP, I probably wouldn't say no. Babies are innocent, they haven't "signed on" to the whole modesty thing yet. Other "immodest" clothing doesn't seem as suggestive as these cha-chas...eg. sundresses, tanks and shorts...

The other side of me thinks:I would NEVER buy this for my child at ANY age. I have noticed that my daughter's attitude and mood can change depending on how she feels in what she is wearing. She has a matching undershirt and underwear set that are leopard print, and if she is found in only that, she is just off the wall and so pleased with her leopard self, in a concerning way. I remember when I was little my Dad would always tell me to "take those sunglasses off"...because they made me change (in his opinion, for the worse). The whole point of costumes for an actor are to make them feel more in character, and how we dress, can similarly encourage us to take on certain CHARACTERistics.

So putting this little innocent baby in cha-cha boobies? Will she feel exploited? Cold? Naked? Sexy? Probably not. Will a 3-year-old feel objectified? How about 4? I KNOW if I put my 4 year old in the cha-cha boobie bikini, she would change. She would strut, talk about boobies and probably utter the word sexy (yes, she knows that word much to my dismay).

I believe this topic has been beaten to a pulp on other sites. I don't mean to beat the dead horse. Honestly I don't really take time to judge other people's choices for themselves or their kids, because I am not THE JUDGE and it is a waste of time. I guess I am more disturbed by this image as advertisement for childrens fashion. If you could choose one image to send to millions of people to lure them into buying clothes on your site, and this is the one the GAP chose, what does that say about us consumers? You can't even see her precious face...it's just a body with cha-chas.


  • It's kind of disturbing. But then I didn't like hootchie clothes on babies even before I was a member of the Church, so take my opinion with a salt lick.

    There is no way I would let my daughter wear this outfit, but I have no problem with sundresses and the like- but I know others draw the line in different places.

    The baby may not feel exploited or sexualized, but the adult sexualization of younger and younger children is definately a trend and a problem.
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 6/11/2006 12:48:00 PM  

  • I first saw this swimsuit years ago - when a small children's swim company first designed it (and many other children's companies have made versions of it since). I was immediately drawn to the little suits in the store because of unique flower application, but I did not like their placement. Aesthetically, it gives a child's body a proportion that is strange to the eye. i.e: A baby with cha's cha's looks weird.

    I admit to being pretty liberal when it comes to modesty standards - at least in theory. Maybe it is because I didn't grow up with brothers and I don't have sons. I guess I still don't really understand the extreme sexuality that is connected with "revealing" attire and the responsibility women have to keep men's minds out of the gutter.

    I could use that swimsuit for myself though. It would do wonders for my non-existent chest. Adult women can accentuate their cha chas right? :)
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 6/11/2006 02:05:00 PM  

  • It bothers me, too. Putting children in sexually exploiting outfits (whether that was the intention or not) are not cute to me. Yes, a sudress/tanktop/bikini etc. can look adorable on a baby, but there has to be taste.

    That picture has no taste. All I see is "hey, come dress your adorable, INNOCENT, little daughter in a hoochie-mama swimsuit that the local whore would wear." OKay, maybe that's a bit strong, but you get what I mean.

    DH and I talked with each other about how we would let our daughters dress --specifically when they got to a certain age. We decided that our girls would no longer wear the sundresses/bikinis/tank-tops/etc. once they turned 2 years old. Some people think we're absolutely nuts and others think we're not conservative enough, but whatever. We feel that once the baby is no longer a baby, their dress should reflect that.

    But man! That baby was not wearing something that would reflect the cuteness of a baby...(as you can see I'm feeling strongly about this one...)
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 6/11/2006 02:05:00 PM  

  • I also wanted to say that is does sort of surprise me that Gap chose this specific outfit for their add. Their overall look and market usually leans more toward the conservative/traditional look.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 6/11/2006 02:13:00 PM  

  • Um, yeah. No way is that going on my (hypothetical) kid.

    The children may not feel they're being exploited or portrayed in any particular kind of light but can you honestly say that the adults don't know? Honestly, I feel that image is perilously close to the kind of image that gets you locked up good and tight.

    Other people have differnt definitions of modesty. Fine. But can't we let kids be kids? Why do we have to dress them as if they're exponentially older than they are and and showing off body parts they don't even have?
    posted by Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve at 6/11/2006 04:55:00 PM  

  • At the European public pools [complete nudity isn't allowed at these] the little kids of both sexes just wear a bottom, no top. You can't always tell if they are male or female at that age.

    When I got back to the States I was bemusedly horrified that kids that age were being sexualized by bikini tops. The genderless look had become normal by then. [Reverse culture shock happens when you've been somewhere for a while]
    posted by Anonymous not ophlelia at 6/11/2006 05:37:00 PM  

  • I would actually be less offended by just bottoms then this image of the boobies...or a baby in just a diaper...and their sweet face would be welcome as well
    posted by Blogger Kage at 6/11/2006 06:15:00 PM  

  • N.O. and Kage- I agree- I spent some time in Germany, and babies all go topless there- and it is completely non-sexualized. It would be less suggestive if the baby were just in the bottoms or a diaper than in the pseudo-boobies!
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 6/11/2006 07:18:00 PM  

  • Ya, I'm against the whole bikini baby stuff...their little boobies are ALWAYS showing. Pretty sure they wouldn't love that if they had a clue. From MY experience, it always seems to be the bigger moms that can't wear them themselves so they HAVE to get one of their babies in 'em. I know, it's just what I've seen.....maybe not the nicest comment, but I'll stand firm from what I've seen.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/11/2006 07:59:00 PM  

  • I do not like the triangles. Never have. Especially on young girls who haven't developed yet. Once they have, I don't think they're appropriate either. But they look especially ridicuous beforehand. I wouldn't put my baby in that. But I don't have a prob. with baby bikinis that don't emphasize the chest(mostly since my very-conservative Mom passed one down through her 7 daughters--If I didn't have that evidence in photos, I might have reconsidered!). And yes, it is so ridiculous that the ad doesn't show her adorble face. Just emphasizes their...emphasis.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 6/12/2006 05:32:00 AM  

  • Face is red, chest is burning... I am trying to formulate my words. Bear with me.

    First of all, I wouldn't have guessed this picture to be from the Gap because it is so different from their normal childrens ads that seem to be more modest/conservitive. Having said that, I had no immediate reaction to this photo whatsoever! I didn't look at her cha cha's??!@#$%^&* and I certainly didn't objectify her body and frankly, I am a bit confused by anyone who did. I saw a baby's darling pertruding belly in a silly two piece bikini. That was the end of my rational.

    Granted, I am on the very liberal side of this whole dressing your baby modestly. I have bikini's, sleeveless sundresses, hot shorts and tank tops for my little girl. GASP! She looks so cute in them.

    I like Carrie will never understand how dressing any certain way can actually bring down the moral of a man. And so help me if my two year old showing her belly is going to make a man's unit go up, then I will be the first in line to chop it off! Zero tolerance on this issue in case that wasn't clear.

    I am more than aware that there are sicko's out there, and that is NEVER gonna change. There will be sicko's regardless of what she is wearing. Sad truth!

    In my opinion, there does come a time when a girl starts to develope that it is in their best interest to dress them maybe a little differently. For no other reson than to avoid merciless teasing by peers. As long as she is comfortable and doesn't look rediculous, she can wear whatver she is comfortable in. If my daughter wants to be a cheerleader, I will support her 110%! Even though that outfit is the most revealing of anything she will wear!

    I could keep going but really, it isn't worth it, I am sure that I am outnumbered in this forum, family members included, so I will just keep my opinions on this zipped up for now, until further provoked.
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 6/12/2006 09:39:00 AM  

  • I really thought I was in trouble until I read Z's comment....thanks for saving me! I'm obviously outnumbered here, but I too saw the cutest little girl in a crazy little bikini. Ya, the flowers are silly, but I didn't even think about anything else. She's adorable even without seeing her face! Yes, I'm totally biased here as I have 4 of my own little beauty queens. They all wear tank tops, sundresses and little daisy-duke shorts (not always).....they are sooooooooooooooo precious in them. My oldest is 7 and I realize some things will have to change a little, but I also realize that no matter what she wears, there are sick-os out there and always will be. All I can teach her is how to respect herself because so many others will not. Ok, that's all. I'm not against the picture at all.... I think it's actually pretty cute!
    posted by Anonymous lsm at 6/12/2006 02:16:00 PM  

  • I'm against bikini's on little
    girls, because I can't help but think...what are you covering and why are you trying to make them look older?

    My husband and are are from the stand point of having our little girls be modest from the start. We try to avoid sleeveless outfits and backless outfits, or put onsies underneath. Our motto is to teach them to be modest now so when they go through the temple they don't have to buy a new wardrobe.
    It may sound like, who cares if your one year old shows their arms, and yes there are outfits that just have the cap sleeve, but we plan on having many children and I don't want my oldest saying you let the baby wear sleeveless, or when I was a baby it was alright. I guess it's just a matter of setting expectations young.

    I find the sexualization of young children disturbing and it happens so often it's hard to avoid. Yes those who think dirty thoughts will no matter what you dress your child in, but it's a matter of having decency and respect for your own child's body.
    Children do change with what they have on. Adults change with what they wear. I definitely have outfits that I feel more sexy and attractive in. I think women are responsibly for dressing in a way as to not provoke titillating thoughts in the men around them. I men if you're wearing a low cut top or a short skirt, what message are you sending if not look at my boobs or look at my legs!! If you feel sexy you probably want other people around you to think you are sexy, and what thoughts do those provoke if not thoughts about sex or nakedness. I was watching the Tony's last night, and Alfre Woodard came on to talk and I could not stop looking at her breast!! I was just amazed at them and their shape. Anyways, dress impacts others around us, and what they think. I hate summer because the short skirts come out and if I'm walking upstairs on campus and look up, I can see some @$$es of girls in thongs with skirts that barely cover their @$$es let alone when they walk up stairs. It's humiliating when you see a young boy or man staring at a women who is wear objectifying clothing. I feel bad that we are in such a sexualized world that we can't just enjoy clothing and our bodies. Sorry about the rant, but what we dress our children in sends messages to others and what we dress in does also, their is no way around that. We are asked to be modest and the presidency asks that of our children, so we must set those boundaries.
    posted by Blogger Lacey at 6/12/2006 03:13:00 PM  

  • First let me say that what this baby is wearing is in no way the cause of dirty thoughts. Sure it may become fuel for dirty thoughts, but the dirty thoughts would be there even if the baby, (or her mother) were in a burkha.

    Second, let me share what my piano teacher told me when I was 11: "Practice makes permanent." Revealing clothes are harmless, and often cute on little kids, but the clothes that you put your kids in now will be clothes that you get used to putting your kids in, and the clothes that your kids will be used to wearing.
    Though it may not be necessary, it is easiest and safest to draw the line at 'never.' I would rather do that than risk realizing one day that my children stopped being the innocent asexual beings I thought they were years ago.
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 6/12/2006 04:54:00 PM  

  • My 3 year old was given a hand-me-down bikini today. TRIANGLES. I don't like 'em. She was so excited--"Mom! It's like Ariel!" Funny.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 6/12/2006 06:52:00 PM  

  • I am also in the minority. I am perplexed how a under 2 year old baby is a sexual being. I got the same ad and I have to say that I found nothing wrong with the suit and neither did my husband (I see an innocent, cute baby ready to go to the pool). My DD at 20 months wears a bikini to the pool and I have to say that everyone comments that she looks cute not that she is being sexual or trying to be older than she is (BTW, I sometimes wear a bikini). Also, at her age, her attitude does not change based on what she is wearing - maybe she is too young for that and maybe that will change. But I have to say that my 10 year old neices wear short shorts and still I and they see no sexuality in that. Maybe I am overly liberal with the clothing thing but I think that sometimes we are projecting our adult world and thoughts onto our little children. If we act as if certain clothing they wear should make them feel sexual as children, then they will probably feel that way; if we act like they are innocent children, then they will feel like that. Just my opinion.

    I think there is a time when sundress and the like are off limits but I think that is different for each family and each child. I respect what others decide to do with their children. But I do think the message to our children should be about respect for themselves and feeling good about themselves. I also agree with "tftcarrie" and don't think it is mine or my daughter's responsibility to dress a certain way to help the men have clean thoughts - that is the men's responsibility and us as parents of boys to teach that.

    Well, I guess I have said enough. As a side note, the Gap bikini in question is only for sale up to 18-24 months. The over 24 months bikinis are more sports-top like. Also, both Gymboree and Janie and Jack has bikinis similar to the Gap one.
    posted by Blogger Elise at 6/12/2006 09:14:00 PM  

  • Hopefully after all is said and done, after we've all done our BEST to teach our children proper morals and dress standards, none of us will be so crazy as to think that our kids (our girls especially) won't wear what they want somehow or another. No, I'm not saying to stop teaching and guding them....that is crucial, but we need to be real and open/honest as parents. For me, I would rather my daughters just tell me if they're sneaking off to a friends house and changing into a bikini, I want that open communication to avoid other problems that result from feeling like they "have" to sneak. I could go on, just thought I'd throw that in because I've seen it in my own "normal" mormon family of 6 girls. Fun to be a mommy :)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/12/2006 09:19:00 PM  

  • Z... "potatoe, potato, tomatoe, tomato- let's call the whole thing off!" I love ya sis! I knew this one would draw your comments! While I choose not to let DD wear a bikini, I do let her wear tankini's and sleeveless dresses. I am not as anal as some on this, about middle ground in the modesty arena. I don't want to make such a huge deal of it that DD thinks it's exciting and fascinating to dress immodestly because mom FORBIDS IT! We'll have open communication when it comes time to this and reach a middle ground! In the meantime, deep breaths Zinone! Your DD is a doll!
    posted by Blogger BJHBHB at 6/12/2006 10:30:00 PM  

  • You know, that is so true! It is important to not be overboard with the rules, cuz rebellion can be ten fold!
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 6/13/2006 07:46:00 AM  

  • Yup, I definitely have a big problem with this bathing suit. For that matter, any clothing that is designed to make babies and little girls look like they have breasts grosses me out. Old Navy had a baby girl top this past spring that had strategically placed tucks that made it look like the baby had breasts.

    I have no problem with tank tops, short shorts, halter tops, etc. Mostly because babies used to run around just in diapers and it is important to keep them cool in the summer. But to put them in clothing that makes them appear to have a secondary sexual characteristic that (in our society) is traditionally titillating, just seems wrong.

    (BTW, thanks for your entertaining blog! I mostly just lurk here while nursing and have really enjoyed the conversations!)
    posted by Anonymous LD at 6/13/2006 09:56:00 AM  

  • One thing that I loved when I joined the church was consistency... i.e. "Mom doesn't drink so you don't drink" not some confusing message about drinking alcohol when you're older and trying to figure out why you can't be "older" when you're 16 and rebellious. I don't know what my views will be about bikinis and tank-tops, etc., for my kids yet (I only have a 4 month old), but when I've been shopping for him so far I notice that I naturally steer away from tank-tops. Probably because I'm so used to overlooking them for myself. I'm just wondering what do you say to your kids when you let them dress "immodestly" when they're younger? Mom & Dad are their example and they don't dress immodestly. Do your kids ask you why they get to wear a bikini and you don't? What is your answer to that? I'm not challenging anyone, just wondering how you address this stuff when you have a sixteen year old who wants to wear a bikini or daisy dukes because she's been wearing them since she was 2, and now all of the sudden she has breasts and IS a sexual object.

    Also, even though for us (and normal, SANE people) this little girl isn't a sex object, I think it is very likely that she is to some sickos out there. Tons of children (unfortunately) get molested or abused when they are teeny tiny. It doesn't mean that as a parent you should cover your little ones from head to toe, but you should probably be aware that there are men who would look at a little girl sexually (so sad and yucky, I know!)
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/13/2006 10:00:00 AM  

  • Well, I feel like I can answer that "what do you say" question because I have raised 5 girls and they've all gone on to be married in the temple. It actually sounds like a silly question to me, but I understand where it's coming from. The answer is called communication and moderation. Yes, you did wear tank tops and shorter shorts when you were little, and our bodies change...we "grow" things and it's important to be respectful of that. Little kids rip their clothes off all the time and run naked.....mine did it in public on occasions. We can't be sooooooooo cut and dry and expect our children to never rebel when we are. From my experience, there HAS to be bending in some areas as our children grow and mature (both physically and mentally). The hardest thing to remember is that they are NOT us as parents, they are an individual and we have done our best to teach them. It never seemed to be as big of a problem when I just talked and explained things to my girls as is was when I said NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO way! No, they didn't go dressing immodestly, but they need to feel comfortable as well. Hey, my girls showered with Daddy until about 1............ some things are just different when you're little. That is truly part of life. Good luck!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/13/2006 10:44:00 AM  

  • I know for a fact that I am too old to wear a lot of the cute juniors styles. If my age comes into play there, then it stands to reason that there is such a thing as being too young for a style as well. You wouldn't put junior in a suit and power tie every day because daddy wears one and he just looks so darn cute, so why put adult styles on a little girl?
    Just because trendy things are sized down so our girls CAN wear them doesn't mean that they SHOULD. There's already such a push for our kids to grow up too fast in society, why help it along?
    Aside from the whole sexual aspect, I just don't believe in presenting children as adults, let them be kids.
    Frankly, if ANYONE wears that suit then they have a set of big brass ones anyways, it's fugly.
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 6/13/2006 02:03:00 PM  

  • I have a problem with baby bikinis. They sexualize the child--I know nothing of the actual affect on the child, just that you are asking other people to look on your baby as a sexual being. VERY creepy.
    posted by Blogger a spectator at 6/16/2006 09:26:00 AM  

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