A new trend in young girls’ fashion is raising some eyebrows: padded bras in sizes so small that would fit some preschool children.
They’re mini versions of something one may expect to find in the women’s lingerie department, but are being marketed to children as young as seven.
Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, South Yorkshire, has branded such underwear as ‘totally unsuitable’ after she was contacted by a concerned parent about a bra on sale in Matalan.
Promoted by the high street giant as an ‘ideal first bra’, the £4 item of underwear has a plunge-front and padded cups, and can be found in the section of the store aimed at two to 13-year-olds.
The Shadow Minister for Preventing Abuse and Domestic Violence said: “The bra is totally unsuitable for young girls. The design of the bra is too sexualised for any young child.”
She added: “The sale of clothes like this contributes to the sexualisation of children. These garments put children at risk and could be used in abusive images. It is tough enough for parents to protect their children from abuse without high-street stores selling items that make their job more difficult.”
Nevertheless, not everyone shares her concerns, with some believing that extra padding in their bras might help build self-confidence in children. “We definitely see it on the medical front that girls are going through puberty at a younger age,” obstetrician and mother of three girls Dr Lisa Johnston said. “I think when kids are going through puberty, they’re often very insecure and being proud of their body doesn’t mean showing off their body.”
This is not the first time stores have come under fire for selling inappropriate kids’ clothing. Just last week it was reported that Primark is selling hotpants for six-year-olds, while Tesco was forced to remove a pole-dancing kit from the toys and games section of its website in 2006 after being accused of “destroying children’s innocence”.
Last year, David Cameron hit out over a “disgraceful” Primark padded bikini for girls of seven, calling on firms to “take some responsibility”. In his pre-election pledge, the prime minister pledged to introduce measures to protect children against the growing threat of “inappropriate sexualisation”.