• Thu, Apr 3 - 9:40 am ET

Outrage Explodes Over Skimpy Bathing Suits For Kids, But Don’t 7-Year-Olds Deserve Sexier Clothing Options?

Ascot Races

90′s poster girl and clothing designer (who knew?) Elizabeth Hurley is facing some backlash about her eponymous clothing line’s children’s bathing suits, which some prudes are calling too damn hot. In fact, some tightwads are arguing that Hurley’s line is sexualizing children by making suits that look like adult lingerie, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

The reaction was largely in response to this tweet, which showcased some of Hurley’s collection and led people over to her website to check out the goods:

Per The Daily Mail:

The actress’s website features several children wearing the skimpy designs while striking poses more suitable for adult models. It includes items for the under eights, such as an animal-print ‘Mini Cha Cha Bikini’ which costs £32.90 and is modelled by a blonde child with both hands placed precociously on her hips. Another design, called the ‘Collette Bikini’ is advertised in the 8-13 age range, and is described as being ‘great for girls who want to look grown up’.

What’s the big deal? So these kids’ suits look vaguely like something out of a Miami-themed erotica novel sold at the grocery storeDon’t kids also have a right to conform to crushing societal pressure to be sexually attractive from birth if they want to? CHOICE!

The outrage here is largely misplaced–I’m personally upset that children don’t have more sexy clothing options. Sometimes, you’re just a kid running around the water park, and you think to yourself “you know what would really make this water slide a fun, youthful time? A little sex appeal!” And I get it. I was just the least sexy child in the world, and nobody would have ever thought to sexualize me prematurely. It’s been hard to deal with over my life, but somehow I’ve gotten past my non-sexualized childhood of mud pies and trickery. Thank you. I know, I’m so brave. But I never want another child to go through what I went through–a carefree childhood without the pressure to be alluring to the other children around me. Can you imagine?

So I’m calling for children’s clothing designers to step up. We want sexier clothing options–bathing suits and otherwise– for America’s children. The time is now. The cause is just. Let’s invest in our future.

Photos: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

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  • MerlePerle

    Oh God, at first I thought you were being serious! My kid’s been eyeing the leopard print leggings at H&M. Yeah, not gonna happen.

  • Samantha Escobar

    When I was seven, I shoved socks into my shirt and walked around my room and was like I LOOK LIKE AN ADULT. There is a reason my mother did not let me go out like that, and why she didn’t want me to wear shirts that said stuff like “Naughty little angel.” I didn’t get it at the time, but FFS, stuff like this makes me feel so bad for arguing with her about letting me ~*be free*~ with my clothes.

  • Valerie

    When I was 9, I had a spiral perm (oh early 90′s) and loved wearing country-western style shirts because I was obsessed with Hey Dude. So my 4th grade picture was definitely a pouf of curly bangs and a pastel colored country western button-down shirt. I def could have used some help in the Sexy department.

    • Robotic Socks

      You had an s-perm? Awesome!

    • Valerie

      Oh yeah. That same year I was in a Little Mermaid skit in the ice show…..I may have even crimped it. I rocked the early 90′s.

  • Charmless

    Here’s what I’m curious about: the original Coppertone kid (from 1953, thanks Wiki!) was topless and there was nothing inherently sexual about it. The little girl is fully covered up now and only occupies a teeny bit of real estate on the packaging, but I can only assume that parents would flip their fucking lids over her nudity and coy facial expression if the character was introduced today. She’s basically a child pinup, but an army of enraged parents didn’t start screaming about pedophile panic 60 years ago. Was letting your kids run around the beach without tops the norm back then? There are loads of photos of my mom on the beach in the late ’50s wearing a little ruffly bikini, or just a pair of swimming bloomers. This isn’t a new thing. The perception of it as being sexual is what has changed.

    • nikki753

      I think that part of the thing is the calling attention to the… future assets. Take the Coppertone kid and imagine a set of pasties on her. Yeah. That’s when it gets creepy. There’s something that you can’t always describe but you can feel it when you see it. 3-year-old running around nakie? Whatever. Same kid in a string bikini and suddenly it’s weird.

    • Charmless

      I see where you’re coming from. I think I’m just more sensitive to it in some areas than others. For some reason, questionable swimwear doesn’t provoke a response, but those novelty baby onesies that say dumb shit like “BREAST MAN” infuriate me.

    • nikki753

      Oh. Heck yes. Those are foul.

    • Bearbones

      No Lie.. I manage a Pool during the summer months in a private community.
      12 year old girl wearing a T shirt that says
      “Dirty Old Men Need Love Too”
      I spoke with her mother. I might as well have talked to a wall. She was Shit Faced and told me to screw. I ejected both of them from the pool and the surrounding play area until the girl changed and the mother sobered up. The mother filed a complaint. Well, She lost and was shamed at the same time. Now we have dress codes
      for the common areas. Common sense and morality are in short supply these days

  • Megan

    I suppose I’m the only one who doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with young girls wearing bikinis? Those bathing suits aren’t strappy and don’t sport weird cutouts, I don’t see the sexual/skimpy parts of the collection.

    • ChopChick

      CHILDREN! SHOWING SKIN! IN THE SUMMER!!!!!! Someone get me my pearls….QUICK!

    • Sarah

      Haha

    • CrosslyStitched

      I think the problem with a triangle top is that without anything to put in it, it basically becomes a nipple cover and won’t stay in place. Skimpy tops don’t allow for a free range of movement and prohibit play. A larger top allows a child to play comfortably without always having to adjust. One pieces are a nightmare if only because of the difficultly for a kid to quickly get out of it to use the bathroom. I’m pro rash guard/bikini or swim trunk bottom. I don’t like any of my kids to run around shirtless because of sun exposure. Rash guards provide UV coverage and I don’t have to worry about sunburns as much. Of course I force all my kids to wear massive sun hats all summer long and we all hate how frequently we have to apply sunblock.

    • Katherine Handcock

      Yeah, I’ll second this. I bought my daughter a one-piece for the winter that has a triangle top, and it won’t stay in place, so I can’t imagine how a triangle bikini top stays put on a kid. I want my daughter to be able to run, play, and splash without me chasing her around trying to prevent her from accidentally strangling on her swimsuit top!

      I love the rashguard/bikini bottom combos for the summer in particular – much less area to slather with sunscreen! – but in general, I want whatever my kids are wearing in the pool or at the beach to let them swim and play without getting tangled up in their swimsuit.

    • CrosslyStitched

      Oh the tangled swimsuit, ugh. My daughter had a ruffled halter two piece last year very modest but the bottoms were slightly too loose and kept creeping up. I gave up yanking them down and at the end of the summer she had one slightly unevenly toasted bun. Even with all the sunblock we use she manages to tan. It’s totally foreign to me!

  • Sirah

    I’m sorry, but what a bunch of ethnocenctric prudes. If you go outside North America you will find that suits like these and just wearing bottoms are extremely normal for girls. Since girls don’t have the bodies to fill the suits like grown women do, nobody sees “the sexual” part of it.

    • Kelly

      Yep, anybody who looks at a little girl in a swimsuit and thinks, “sexy” is a pedophile. It’s not the child’s fault or the suit’s fault.

      Just like rape isn’t caused by clothing, it’s caused by rapists.

    • MerlePerle

      Here in Germany I actually see lots of wholesome hello kitty swimsuits….and it’s not about trying not to attract pedophiles. It’s about letting kids be kids. Just bottoms is fine by me. But a triangle bikini makes absolutely no sense at all on a 5 year old.

  • Crayzcheshire

    …as if she’s the first one to invent the child’s bikini! this really grinds my gears. If you’re going to hate on kid’s bikinis- hate on all of them. Besides- leopard print is adorable.

    & I hope this isn’t misunderstood- but I wish we lived in a world where little kids could run around naked without it being weird or taboo and was basically adorable and without fear of lurking perverts. If I ever have kids I’m going to live really rurally and let them run around naked all the time!

  • nikki753

    The Colette image and description are unfortunate. I mean, that’s an $80 swimsuit. You’re telling me that no one could have straightened that thing on her?

    it seems like some of the more offensive images have been removed. Or maybe I didn’t look around the site enough. Wait. Found them. Sale section. Odd to have such cheap looking pictures for such expensive swimsuits (who drops $80 on a kid’s suit???).

    In any case, every time I have to pull a wet one-piece swimsuit back on, I vow that if I have girls, they’ll be welcome to have reasonable two-piece swimsuits. Ugh. I do not relish the thought of trying to yank a wet suit onto a kid. Or the thought of one of them not looking forward to that and, as a result, waiting to long to make it to the bathroom.

    That said, there’s a difference between ones that just look like cute kids swimsuits and ones that are just… awkward for everyone involved.

  • Daniella Sloane Alberts

    what really gets to me is the fact that anyone would even CONSIDER buying an $82 bikini for a 6 year old.

  • Katherine Handcock

    I do find the teeny-weeny bikinis/swimsuits with cutouts a bit icky, just because they are taking styles that are sexy on adult women and putting them on kids. I don’t find the “too sexy” objection applies to ones that have substantial tops and bottoms, though.

    What really bothers me, not just about kids’ bikinis but also all the girls’ swimsuits with ruffles, bows, etc., is that they are really hard for kids to actually play and swim in. At the pool near me last summer, I saw tons of girls between the ages of 2 and 9 wrestling with their swimsuits. One girl who looked to be about 7 actually had clothespins on her bikini bottom to hold it up. And at one point, my daughter’s hand actually got tangled up in the ties on another toddler’s swimsuit and the other mom and I had to spend about a minute holding two unhappy toddlers down while we untangled them. Meanwhile, the boys’ styles are all pretty functional as long as you buy the right size. That’s the discrepancy that I find problematic.

  • ANA

    i dont see the big deal about kids wearing bikinis. my 7 yr old cousin has more bikins than me, and im 24! The problem is not kids (or teenagers) showing a little skin, it is the sex obsessed people who are distracted by it. that is the problem

  • Ilya

    Sex appeal is something that is imposed on people from the outside. No article of clothing or person is intrinsically sexy. If you can’t look at a little girl in a bikini without thinking, “Mmm, there goes one sexy 7-year-old,” then that’s YOUR problem, not Elizabeth Hurley’s.

  • MammaSweetpea

    “Mudpies and trickery” made me smile :-)

  • Jen

    Does a child really need to be sexy now? Are people pimping out their children or trying to find their 5 year old a date?? Why should a kid have that kind of pressure on them now? Let kids be kids without worrying about being grown up, because being an adult is nowhere near easy. People wonder why their 12 year old kids start being sexually active at that age? Maybe you should have thong diapers for your babies too because babies need a sexy line of diapers! LOL It’s not being a prude when you don’t want a fat old white dude to check out your 5 year old baby or your 13 year old to look like a street walker or not want her to get pregnant at that age either. It’s called being smart & teaching your kid that it’s better to be respected than to be liked & popular with the boys. Being sexy & popular with the boys got my cousin knocked up at 13, my sister in law knocked up at 15, & a friends daughter who just died of AIDS. Cuz they wanted to be sexy.

  • gothicgaelicgirl

    I used to run around in the nip all the time as a kid, right up to around five or six. Then again we lived in the country near a sandpit, so there wasn’t really anyone around to see me.
    It’s only as I have the kids myself now that I stop and think before I buy them clothes. I had to buy the 10 year old a ladies padded swimsuit the other day, she’s far too tall for even the teen swimsuits and she’s very selfconscious of her development.

    So we figured a ladies one-piece with a little safety padding at the front would be no harm.
    And STILL, the woman at the check out had the nerve to ask me was I “sure that swimsuit is appropriate for her”?

  • Bearbones

    Looking sexy at 7??? WTF How low exactly has the bar fallen. Not to mention you are painting a target on your daughter for all the perverts to aim for. A parent who would want to parade their child around at 7 with the intention of being “Sexy” Has a problem that a good freaking Dope Slap couldn’t fix. What ever happened to “Cute”