Fashion turns kids into sex objects

It’s a scorching hot July weekend in Central Alberta and the family decides to leap into the cooling waters of Sylvan Lake. But what to wear at the beach? Worse yet, their four-year-old daughter has outgrown her bathing suit, so what to do?

It’s a scorching hot July weekend in Central Alberta and the family decides to leap into the cooling waters of Sylvan Lake. But what to wear at the beach? Worse yet, their four-year-old daughter has outgrown her bathing suit, so what to do?

Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow has the perfect solution — buy the child a bikini over her website GOOP. The website features a girls’ line of swimwear that includes bikinis for four-year-olds.

Or, if your child is few years older, go to the website of British model and actress Elizabeth Hurley that features a swimwear collection aimed at eight- to 13-year-old girls. One of her items is a leopard-print Mini Cha Cha Bikini, which is described as “great for girls who want to look grown up.” It’s modelled on her website by a blonde child, posed in a suggestive manner, with her hands on her hips.

In today’s endless battle against child pornography, society must question the revealing swimwear offered by two high-profile women. They are adding more powder to the keg despite their claims they are doing absolutely nothing wrong. They are throwing out the bait for pedophiles.

Paltrow, 1998 Academy Award winner for best actress in Shakespeare in Love, has come under “a firestorm” for her revealing bikini lines for children, but dismisses the comments as “absurd.”

Critics counter that this is another case of young girls being sexualized for profit.

The bikinis for four-year-olds are selling for $45 each and are covered in ruffles on the top and bottom. The outfits come in sizes for girls aged four, six and eight.

Organizations battling child abuse say Paltrow is sexualizing children. “Scaled down versions of women’s clothing that are intended to arouse sexual interest are not appropriate for young girls,” said Kristan Dooley, managing director of Women’s Forum Australia.

Paltrow also offers any moms who are a fan of the kiddy design a black bikini to match that of their four-year-olds’, or visa versa. Quite the fashion statement on the beach.

Claudia Knights, director of the children’s charity Kidscape, said the organization is strongly opposed to the “sexualization of children and of childhood.”

“The dangers have been discussed at length, so it is a great pity such trends continue and that they carry celebrity endorsement,” said Knights.

In defence of Paltrow, a spokesperson for the bikini line dismisses the uproar as “absurd.”

“Two-piece bathing suits have been worn by young girls for decades,” the person said.

That may be the case. But they have never been marketed as bikinis. A Google check on Paltrow’s child bikini lines reveals questionable attire the spokesperson dismisses as mere two-piece bathing suits.

Enter Elizabeth Hurley whose leopard-print Mini Cha Cha Bikini was modelled by a blonde child on the website with both hands placed on her hips.

Children portrayed in such a suggestive manner, and available to millions viewing the Internet, is counter-productive to the war against child pornography.

Children must rely on reasonable adults to bring this disease of child pornography under control. Designing and selling questionable outfits on the Internet is at best counterproductive and at worst insidious.

Rick Zemanek is a former Advocate editor.