The sexualization of children is an issue that crops up all too often these days, with the likes of baby beauty pageants and Bratz dolls routinely making headlines. Earlier this week, the Metro Herald reported that Take That singer and X Factor judge Gary Barlow had to ban music videos in his house because their content had become too racy for his three children to watch. Barlow linked this to the bawdy dance moves displayed by young X Factor hopefuls, presumably culled from such videos. Children imitating Beyonce or Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas seems harmless enough until you realize how much our society has latched on to these images and turned them into marketing tools aimed at what is arguably the most impressionable demographic. Dunnes peddling padded bras in the kids department is a prime example.
Furthermore, it teaches young boys that it’s okay to regard girls as sexual objects. When I was a preteen back in the mid-90s our only option was the classic white cotton ‘training bra’. Nothing else was made in our size, because, as my mother phrased it, ‘you have nothing to put in it!’ But I suppose my generation was lucky in that we didn’t live with the expectation that girls of 10, 11, or 12 years of age face today to don frilly knickers and matching push-up bras. Of course there are some girls that age and even younger who genuinely need to wear a bra. This is not the issue. It is the design and the marketing of products that are indistinguishable from adult sexual attire wrapped in pink, bubbly, childish packaging and sold in the children’s section next to fuzzy slippers and teddy bears.
This is hardly a new issue. In September the Irish Independent published this article citing Dunnes’ (and Penney’s) sale of children’s padded bras. But considering that this week we found several sets of them prominently displayed in Dunnes’ St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre location (though it should be noted that Dunnes did not appear to have such products for children as young as three as noted in the article), it doesn’t seem to have done much good.
Unless people speak up and tell Dunnes Stores that selling padded bras to children and preteens is not acceptable, nothing will change. The IFN will be sending a letter to Dunnes Stores to voice our outrage over this issue and we’d encourage anyone who agrees with us to do the same. They can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin - IFN Co-ordinator