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Little Girls In Lingerie? Non, Merci.

By Melissa Campbell

The Internet has been blowing up lately with discussion around Jour Apres Lunes, a French company that’s released a lingerie—excuse me, loungerie—line for little girls 4-12 years old. The photo shoot for the line features girls with big pompadours and expertly applied makeup. The reaction, of course, has been largely outrage.

It’s hard to formulate thoughts on something like this. What is there even to say? I can’t explain why it’s so awful to make lingerie for four year olds because I didn’t think I would ever have to explain it. I mean, shouldn’t that be a given? It’s like asking me why it’s bad to drink a gallon of milk and then go running—you just don’t do it! Why are you even asking me why it’s bad? You’ll puke! Duh!

In this Today Show clip (which, for all of its shock and horror at the images, sure went out of its way to show each photo at least ten times each), a bystander says that the photos are inappropriate because they “show too much skin.” I think this is a common reaction in situations like this, when we know it’s wrong but can’t quite put our finger on why.

“Showing too much skin” is the way we simplify all of our culture’s problems with sexualization and focus them back on the woman (in this case, little girls) in question. I don’t think the problem is that you can see the girls’ midriffs; it’s the fact that they’re four years old, yet this company and photographer are treating them like fully sexual adults.

I should say I’m not averse to everything in the collection. I actually think some of it is cute and age-appropriate. That yellow pinstriped cotton two piece is adorable, and if I had a daughter I would totally let her wear it on hot days. (Again, the problem isn’t the midriff.) But those silk bra and panty sets with the diamonds? Black ruffled bras? Get out. There’s no reason that those should exist for little girls to wear.

This line and its accompanying photo shoots are creepy; these garments are forcing undeveloped bodies to (quite literally) fill the spaces of their adult counterparts. It’s not “playing dress-up,” as Melissa Wardy points out at Pigtail Pals. Playing dress-up is explicitly pretend, with too-big clothes and childish makeup. This shoot is not pretend: it is hair tousled just-so and makeup applied by an expert with panty shots that wouldn’t be out of place on an American Apparel billboard.

I feel like people behind this collection are the kind of people who think Lolita was a sexually precocious girl who seduced Humbert Humbert. Of course, that wasn’t how it went—Humbert Humbert was a predator who invented stories about a little girl’s sexuality in order to make himself feel better. And man, if Humbert Humbert were a real person, he would be salivating for sure right now. What is this lingerie line if not an attempt to show that girls are capable of playing sexy the way women are sexy? That girls should play at that kind of sexy?

This is all part of the narrative we hear and see every day: women are there for the world’s pleasure, and little girls are nothing more than objects in training.

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5 Responses to “Little Girls In Lingerie? Non, Merci.”

  1. Tamara Scholz says:

    No f’n way!!!
    What’s next gstrings for babies?
    Remove head from a$$ & realize how this crap affects society

  2. Teri says:

    I just sent the French co a disapproving message. Unfortunately I don’t speak French so I hope someone can translate it lol

  3. Emma Murphy says:

    This is just unbelieveable. As both a professional working in the area of eating disorder, and a mother of a five year old girl, I am outraged. Something I’ve commented on before is, how do the advertising standards authority in any country think it is ok to release ads like this? Who do they take their direction from? Certainly not the public and the organisations concerned for the a) sexualisation of children and b) negative portrayal of women in the media.
    I’m so sick of having to actually react to this kind of stuff, there’s been far too much of it even in just the past three months – 10 year old French models, padded bikinis for children (Abercrombie & Fitch), and a clothing company for petite women who describe two of their sizes as “malnourished” and “anorexic”, to name just some.
    How can we expect our next generation of female children to grow up with anything approaching healthy self-esteem and a sense of personal power and freedom in the face of this borderline paedophilic advertising? Actually, is it even borderline? Ugh, my skin crawls just seeing that picture. Horrifying.

  4. Lisa Lamb says:

    This, from the culture that brings us DSK and the Vogue shoot with photographs of little girls in suggestive poses. Are we disgusted? Oui. Surprised? Mais, non.

  5. Valerie Connors says:

    I went to the company’s website to see the images; the images depict little girls with “Amy Winehouse” style hair, heavy make-up, donning pearls. This was a little bit disturbing although it could be seen as little girls trying to dress up like mommy. The truly disturbing part was that some of the images had the little girls in provocative poses. From my perspective, it could be seen as soft kiddie you-know-what. Girls have a hard enough time as it is today being bombarded by images of teens and women in this way. I think this is only adding to the highly sexualized context in which women and girls already find themselves. We’re going in the wrong direction. Is this a prudish perspective? Maybe, but I think that we need to redefine what a sexy woman really is.

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