Last Updated on March 20, 2018

Let’s overlook the fact that it’s a bikini.

And forgive the sensual photos in the retailer’s ads.

I’m not here to create a boycott or ban. I just want to illuminate some educated thoughts on an argument that I see happening about a padded push-up bikini top. This one happens to be created for girls 8–14. (Yes, I just pushed the “8” key on my keyboard. Pick yourself up. Let’s talk!)

The top, which was labeled “Ashley push-up triangle” as seen above, features heavy padding as opposed to other bikini tops by the same retailer which feature “lightly-lined” padding. Immediate parental outcry met with a lesser amount of parental defense seems to have already spoken to the retail giant, which has changed the label of the top to be simply the “Ashley triangle.” This, however, does not remove the product and the potential for harm.

An American Psychological Association task force report links mature clothing marketed to younger and younger girls, the sexual content of the marketing, and the sexual overtones of the products themselves to eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression when these girls become teenagers. I’ve also read many sources that seem to link more immodest and mature clothing to an earlier sexual debut. Though this can’t be traced case-by-case, the Medical Institute for Sexual Health has noted that among the top five factors that place teens most at risk for early sexual activity is this one: “appearing older than their actual age.” I think that a padded bikini top on an 8–12-year-old would make her look older, don’t you? The news of this padded bikini top breaks the same day that my local newspaper features an article on a ten-year-old who recently gave birth to a baby. My heart is sick. And it’s sick because I know we’re headed in a direction where this will become more and more common if we, as moms, don’t speak up and change the tide of acceptance when it comes to sensualizing our girls at younger and younger ages.

I know I’m preaching to the choir. But you and I have to care about the girl whose mom does buy her that itty bitty bikini because one thing is clear: the fashion industry doesn’t. The leaders in the industry are aware that creating and marketing age-inappropriate clothing creates significant emotional disorders and an early sexual debut in our daughters. They care only about the bottom line. The bottom line is that tweens are a lucrative demographic, commanding about $43 billion of spending power nationwide. Girls 8–12 spend about $500 million a year on beauty products alone. (Mascara and eye liner sales doubled in this age range last year.)

Perhaps the saddest part of this financial factor is that these girls don’t have jobs, so it’s the moms who willingly fork out their credit cards to buy these tools of destruction for their daughters. These moms are rarely educated on the risks of a simple padded bikini top, a miniskirt, or some mascara, and are often prey to the “logical defenses” of a product like the  “Ashley triangle.”  In this situation, moms are hearing the buzz that this “great new product” protects a little girl from the embarrassing revelation of breast buds. How frail an argument! First, the initial name of the product contained the word “push-up.” Clearly, it was not created to hide anything, but to enhance. Second, the store itself carries other lightly-padded products and patterns that would also eliminate the discomfort of showing off breast buds.

We can’t just speak to the retailer; we have to raise awareness in moms, and this is a great opportunity for us to speak about something that’s important to us. A social buzz on a topic invites us to speak truth. And, in this case, there are a lot of moms who need some of that. Maybe you could use this headliner to sit down with some of your friends today and express your concern in hopes that it’ll become theirs.

Editor’s Note: The Secret Keeper Girl blog has a post about this by Dannah today also, with some action items that we, as moms, can do easily. I hope you’ll take a minute to share this information with your friends both online and off.

UPDATE: Editor’s Note — The padded bikini top appears to no longer be available on the Abercrombie website; however, as far as we have learned, it is still being sold in stores.

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    1. No, this is a popular US clothing retailer with a separate line marketed to children.

    1. Hi Cassandra, Thank YOU so much for sharing and using your voice to reach others about this issue. I agree with you. It isn't just about the bikini top. Blessings to you Sister!

      1. Cassandra says:

        Thank you Katie, I really appreciate your encouragement! (hug)

  1. Battles regarding age-appropriate clothing is constant in our home. My 11 year old is constantly nagging us to be able to wear clothing that will accentuate her figure (skin tight jeans, mini skirt, body hugging shirts). I refuse to buy her these clothes and she continues to push. Thank you for writing an article that highlights the risks to oversexualizing our daughters at younger and younger ages. I'm sure my 11 year old won't care, but it helps to give me strength to stick to my guns.

  2. Thank you so much fr sharing. My heart aches over push up bikini's, thongs , Victoria secret lotions etc… The list goes on and on.. When I was 8 I was still playing with Barbie Dolls that wore clothes that covered their body. I wore what was clean and comfortable. If I wanted something that was too expensive, too flashy, or inappropriate my Mom said No! and I turned out okay and loved.

    blessings & giggles,


  3. Thanks, ladies!

    Jeanie, I was also playing with my Barbies at age eight. Sadly, I was playing with a friend's little girl yesterday and noted how many of Barbie's clothes are overly sexy. Her mom and I agreed some of Barbie's dresses looked like nighties. I remembered a while back that a friend said she went through Barbie's wardrobe with her daughter. Together they eliminated the clothes that were inappropriate. My eldest and I had done the same a while back, but it looks like it's time for another clean out.

    Thanks, Dannah!

    1. I was still playing with Barbie at 10. I have an extremely difficult time finding Barbie clothes for my 6 year old's dolls that are not overtly immodest. If anyone knows of a good source for this, I'd love to hear it.

      1. Best source of clothing that actually covers Barbie? Grandmas who sew… 🙂

        That has been such a sad statement of thing the past many years, the increasing immodesty in doll clothes, Barbie and pretty much all the other dolls that aren't actually meant to look like infants.

        Our girls won't be wearing any bikini tops, much less push-up ones, and it grieves my mother's heart that our boys will undoubtedly be exposed to immodest young ladies whose parents don't seem to mind this sort of thing… It's not good for boys or girls, who are by definition, not men or women yet.

        A little prudishness could go a long way in our society these days…

  4. It's a bit difficult for the daughters to accept 'dressing modestly' if they see their mothers NOT dressing modestly. How is the daughter learning about modesty if her mother isn't setting an example?

  5. Thank you so much for putting my angry, irrational thoughts into clear words, Dannah! I just couldn't think clearly when I first saw the news about these ads! I appreciate you and your ministry so much!

  6. I absolutely loved this post! It spoke the words that have been on my heart about this very issue. I went to the website to see the actual bikinis myself and they were no longer there, hmmm. Maybe I didn't look very hard but it seems that they have been pulled from the website which is great even though I know it doesn't fix the deeper issue.

    Keep pressing on moms of older girls!! It's worth it in the long run even though they are fighting you over it now! One day they WILL thank you for it. Thanks to my mom, Barbara, for helping me be modest and beautiful even when I didn't want to. I am so glad that you pushed back when I did.

  7. Anne Payne says:

    I know this post is months after this article first appeared, BUT as the mom of two teenage boys I sure wish there were more moms/dads out there who cared about immodesty in their daughters, especially those who are Christian! With social media, it's difficult as well, because the girls post pictures of themselves at the beach, etc.

    When I was a young girl and wanted something my mom felt was inappropriate she just said No and didn't buy it. End of story. I wasn't allowed to whine and cajole her until she finally purchased it and the argument "That's what all the other girls are wearing" did NOT fly 🙂

    Thanks for such a great article and so articulately put!