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.”
“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.