Raising a little girl is hard. You have all these decisions to make: schools to choose, what to feed them, how to make sure they don't grow up half as weird as you did. And of course, at some point you'll have to tell her about the birds and the bees. But all that sex stuff can wait until later, right?
Well, around age six, if your nearest department store is to be believed. In stores and catalogues for kids you can find items like ...
This is one of those pictures you see floating around the Internet, and you always just assume it's either 1) a photoshop or 2) some handmade project from a feminist making some heavy-handed statement about the exploitation of young girls. "Just imagine if they sold toy stripper poles!" But, the toy is very real and was indeed sold in the toy section.
In case you were thinking the pole dancing kit was intended for some kind of nonstripper (poles make for good exercise, right?), then you didn't notice it comes with a garter and play money to stuff into it.
Good old-fashioned exercise!
The product was sold in a chain called Tesco, which is like the Walmart of Great Britian, who denied that this was marketed to children and has since relegated it to the exercise department. That's not only about as transparent as selling a pole dancing kit in the children's toy section -- it's also a hilariously blatant lie. As advertised on the website before being forced to take it down, the Peek-a-Boo Pole Dancing Kit was "suitable for participants of 11 years old and upwards."
Oh, bonus fun fact for those of you whose eyeballs are still intact: The product description on the box invites purchasers to "unleash the sex kitten inside."
A Tesco burns down from, we assume, combustible shame.
Let's pretend you're shopping for your 9-year-old daughter. You grab the typical stuff little girls like -- a unicorn backpack, a pretty psychedelic dolphin trapper keeper (that's what little girls are buying these days, right?). And now, to the toy section. There you see the Bratz dolls:
Huh. Those are definitely hot pants and high heel leather knee boots there. But, hey, millions of girls were raised on Barbie, with her gigantic inhuman boobs and they turned out fine, right?
Wait, are those snake skin pants?
We like how you can pick between the stiletto heel shoes and the stiletto heel boots. You know, for different occasions.
Well, OK, so maybe your kid's not old enough yet for dolls meant for the "16- to 20-year-old girls who still play with dolls" demographic. And to be fair, while having these dolls as her role models might make back-to-school clothes shopping for your daughter a battle, the dolls are themselves adults. It's not like they're telling your little girl that at her age she needs to dress like she's in the background of a rap video.
Now, meet Bratz "Twiins" Roxxi and Phoebi:
That's ... Jesus, can we go to jail for having a picture of an infant in a leather jacket and black panties on the site? And are we wrong to think that 100 percent of the people in the world named "Roxxi" who wear short, pink fur coats are hookers? We'd think we were misinterpreting what we're looking at there, but we actually can't find a photo of these dolls not dressed skankily:
But, still, it's not like they're specifically selling push-up bras and thongs to your kid ...
We all know that building real confidence and self-esteem is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your child. There are lots of ways to help them along with this: hugs, rigorous readings of Judy Blume and the occasional bar fight with your kid's enemies' fathers, the trophies of which you leave under your child's pillow to find the next morning.
"Be right back. Daddy's gonna go get a 12-pack of confidence."
But take a stroll through Abercrombie and Fitch and you'll find that there is a market for parents who think that the best way to boost the self-esteem of your first-grader is via a bikini top that will enhance her bustline.
Since A&F came under fire for selling the "push-up" bikini tops to little girls (and yes, the word "push-up" was on the description), they caved and took them off the shelves and swore to never try to showcase your 7-year-old daughter's boobs ever again. Just kidding! First, they simply changed the name of it from "push-up" to "padded." Then they relented and agreed to only market the "padded" tops to 12-year-old girls. Oh, but they made sure they still fit 10-year-olds.
"Honey, we need to have a talk about your inadequate, disappointing breasts."
OK, Abercrombie is clearly just fucking with us at this point.
Not only is the above thong sold in the goddamn kid's section where you'd expect to find the Spongebob Underoos, but the tiny thong contains the words "Eye Candy" and "Wink, Wink." This is made to fit girls as young as 7.
Not that they're trying to sexualize your child, or get free publicity by drawing web traffic from pedophiles (wink, wink).