Abercrombie Bikini Top Controvery Sparks Debate On Parenting And Child Fashion

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Abercrombie & Fitch has really become popular with the younger end of the teenage market.

This spring, the store was selling a new bathing suit with a fully padded Victoria Secret-style push-up bra.

The piece was called “Ashley” and, as of Friday morning, it was no longer available on the Abercrombie Kids website.

But the item has nonetheless sparked debate about parenting and what is appropriate for a child to wear.

WCBS 880 midday anchor Pat Farnack spoke with bestselling author Susan Shapiro Barash about the blurring of lines between childhood and adulthood. Barash says we are Victoria Secreting our daughters by age seven.”

LISTEN: Pat Farnack with Susan Shapiro Barash
(To download the full interview, click HERE)

Barash has written a book called “You’re Grounded Forever… But First Let’s Go Shopping: The Challenges Mothers Face with Their Daughters and Ten Timely Solutions.”

LINK: Susan Shapiro Barash’s Website

“It is up to the mother but the problem is that the mothers cave into the pressure, because they want their daughters to be part of the crowd. There is all this peer pressure. One girl has it then all the girls in the class want it and the mother says to herself ‘Gee, am I really going to get my daughter into the group or am I going to be the one who keeps her out of it?’ I venture to say that maybe even the people at Abercrombie knew that if there was a question that the mothers would say ‘Okay. Fine.’ because mothers today are out to please their daughters. Are are we hindering or helping,” says Barash.

“Wasn’t it a brilliant advertising ploy?” asked Farnack.

“Oh yes, it is and we live in a mass culture and, as I said before, consumer society. So, this is every appealing. The girls know about it. The mothers know they’ll be at the mall on Saturday.

“I remember in my childhood though stretch pants. There was like controversy over that. I  wanted a pair because all my buds had them and my parents said ‘No. Absolutely [not] and that was the end of it. What about that?,” asked Farnack.

“Well the idea, you know, we’re talking about Gen-X mothers and boomer mothers and so what we’re talking about is a different mentality. I mean mothers even are so different in terms of how they feel about their appearances. So, all this beauty and sort of sexualizing of daughters and why it matters so much, a little girl is aware of who the ‘it girl’ is when she’s in maybe 6th grade, 4th grade. She already knows. So, mothers are up against a lot more than your mother who was able to say no and she meant it,” says Barash.

“So, what do you do if you’re a mom and your 11-year-old says ‘Mom, I really want this cute striped bikini with the push-up bra.’ What do you say?” asked Farnack.

Barash says, “You have to really tell her your values. You know, you have to pick and choose your battles. If it’s against your values system, then you need to explain to your daughter and you have to be strong enough to do that. But if you believe in compromise, then you really need to listen to your daughter.”

“Or you can say ‘Look at this t-shirt that comes all the way down to the knees. Isn’t this gorgeous!” says Farnack.

“Well, these daughters who are getting these “Ashley” push-up bikini, what will they do? Will they be strict with their daughters, because the pendulum, really swings. You know, a lot of what we do with our daughters is a reaction to how much our mothers were able to say no,” says Barash.

More from Pat Farnack
  • vivi

    Very disappointed in A&F. Seems they only care @ profit and not general society.


  • Sheri Noga MA

    Our culture is in so much trouble when we are considering the sexualization of children appropriate. Like so many other aspects of American parenting, we have gone too far. Children need appropriate expectations and boundaries in order to develop a healthy sense of self. It is up to us, as parent, to provide those limits. As a psychotherapist and author of a book on parenting, I’ve watched the mental states of children decline significantly in the last ten years. Parents need to educate themselves.

    To watch my video parody of “Tiger Mom”, go to

    Sheri Noga, MA
    Author of “Have the Guts to Do it Right: Raising Grateful and Responsible Children in an Era of Indulgence”

  • Vanita

    I am a “gen x” mom of 2 teens and I can tell you there’s no way i’ll give my teen permission to wear something, go somewhere or take part in anything that I don’t find appropriate. I couldn’t care less what her friends are doing. So guess what? I’m really bloody offended by the interview above and have to say it’s BS.
    Yes we all want our kids to feel accepted, but I think it’s really bloody stupid to assume that moms born during a certain time frame are going to let their teen daughters get away with murder

  • S.R in Chicago, IL.

    Be it a publicity stunt or not, I’m extremely bothered that a company would even come out with such a product for such young girls, they created a want for something that wasn’t there is an area that girls of that age do not even need to think about.
    Our society already has a tremendous problem with children wanting to grow up and act grown up; teen pregnancy is almost an epidemic in many parts of our country. So I’m very bothered that such a product would target an even younger audience.
    “Sexuality” doesn’t need to be a concern for a child of even 11-years old. While it obviously comes down to the parent to purchase the product, the companies in this country still have a responsibility with the products they develop, and Abercrombie knew they were creating a want where there was not one, these actions and lack of concern were a very poor choice on their part.

    I’m also rather offended by the above interview, I am a women of Generation-X and I am not the least bit concerned with keeping my child “up with the in-crowd”, I’m concerned with her well-being, education and happiness. There is no amount of crying, tantrums and silent treatments that would EVER convince me to buy my child such a disgusting product. A child of 11-years old has no business even wearing a bikini in the first place, much less one with padding and push-up abilities!
    Abercrombie truly dropped the ball with this one, and I for one will never be stepping foot in their store again… who knows what garbage they’ll be attempting to put in our children’s heads next.

  • Mike Rotch

    As long as A&F is selling an ‘enhanced’ banana-hammock as well, I don’t see the problem.

  • pugphan

    Hooray for the parents because it’s always profits at any cost. Shame on them for making young kids look like hoes and calling it fashion. smokersodysseycom

  • valoispq

    I think you are missing the point that self confidence is a huge issue with teens and if your child’s is shaky or non-existent you have to help her/him at least fit in and not be the nerd in school or else where. It is cruel “out there” and to fit in is important to most kids. If they have tons of confidence it doesn’t matter. For you to tell them they are wonderful does not help when they are out of the house and they see their self imaged in everyone else’s eyes. Teen suicide and depression scares the heck out of me. Seems very deep when you are only talking about a bikini, but it is just one issue of many when growing up.

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