G-Strings for Preteens

When I grocery shop, I find the peanut butter right next to the jelly. Side by side. Because they go together. Two products people buy in tandem because you use one with the other. You see, retailers intentionally merchandise products of similarity near each other to make the shopping experience more fluid for the shopper. Life jackets by fishing poles, sponges near the dish soap, lacy panties and thongs near the training bras…..

Wait, WHAT!? Did I spy with my little eye a lace and hot-pink python print g-string within an arms reach of the training bras? I did. I was at Kohl’s Department Store and the panties were from Candie’s. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and at first I figured it was out of place, put there by a customer who hadn’t returned it to it’s intended spot. Then I took a step back. I was looking at an entire wall of lacy, sexy panties all within an arm’s reach of the training bras. No other panties were closer, no discreet cotton bikini cut Days of the Week or rainbows, just this wall of semi-trashy looking unmentionables. What struck me is how tiny and sexy they were. Not a lot of coverage even from the hipsters or ‘cheekies’ (teeny boy short undies). An entire wall, right next to the training bras. Peanut butter and jelly.

This seemed wrong to me, that girls young enough to be wearing training bras (average age is 8-13 years old) would also be wearing lingerie-like panties. After all, lingerie is like gift wrapping for sex, so why in the world would a 10 year old who just bought a training bra also need a black thong with bedazzled skull on it? Who exactly is this 10 year old supposed to be gift wrapping herself for?

I didn’t know the answer to these questions, but I knew I was giving a talk in a couple of days on media literacy, the girl’s marketplace, and hypersexualization. So I bought a pair.

Candie's thong purchased at Kohl's next to training bras.

I came home and showed them to my husband and my mom, which elicited a “Good Lord, Melissa.” I told her where I had found them and she was very surprised. We are, after all from Wisconsin, home of family owned, Midwestern-values Kohl’s. Kohl’s even has a mission statement, something about being:  the leading value-oriented, family-focused, specialty department store. In 5th grade I got my first training bra at Kohl’s. I’ve bought every Father’s Day present for the last 15 years at Kohl’s. And now I had purchased a g-string for a preteen.

At the store I measured with a little tape measurer from my purse (I have a four year old who loves to measure stuff when we run errands) and sure enough, the Wall of Thong was less than 24 inches from the training bras, was facing the training bras and the whole Juniors section. At home, I put the thong, Size Small, on a dress form I use to display my Pigtail Pals tees. I picked my largest torso, an 8T. I had no problem fitting the thong onto the form that has a 29? hip measurement (US standard hip measurement for a 10 yr old girl is 28.5 inches). The image is above.

I went to Kohl’s website to determine if maybe this was just an anomaly at my particular store. Nope. Seems Kohl’s family-focused department store has no problem selling sexy undies to Juniors under several of their labels. In addition to Candie’s, Mudd also makse thongs for teens and Hello Kitty makes a hipster that barely covers the public bone. Certainly there were many choices online for more appropriate underwear for a girl sized 7-16. But that differed from how the store was merchandised. The appropriate underwear was back by the Kids section, nowhere near the Juniors. The sexy underwear was right next to the Juniors section, where these girls would be shopping, either with the family or their friends. Let’s be honest, if you’re 13 years old and hanging out at the mall with your gal pals and you want to buy underwear, are you really going to excuse yourself and walk over to the kids’ section? Is Kohl’s counting on peer pressure to make sales?

Well, next I went to Candie’s website, to see what they were about. Didn’t take long to figure that out. (Britney Spears is their new spokesperson) Candie’s seems to have a track record of taking young women, usually about to release a vocal project, and turn them into sultry, sexy spokemodels for a clothing line that actually isn’t that racy or sexy. The shoes and the underwear don’t really seem to match the vibe of the rest of the line. But, sex sells, and Candie’s markets to a young teen demographic eager to prove how grownup they are.

Britney Spears for Candie's Brand, 2010

What does this picture say to you? To me, I see a pop star notorious for her troubled past, dressed like “Slutty Slumber Party Girl” with a naughty pout and ‘Come hither’ look, complete with heels and tattoo. This is tame compared to much of Candie’s print advertisting. And this. Certainly Brit is a legal adult, and fantasizing about her in a sexual way wouldn’t be deviant by any means. But in this picture, Britney isn’t really portraying an adult woman, seemingly she is portraying a much younger female, specifically, one that is underage and illegal to have sex with. The teddy bear, for me, crosses the line and blurs what is taboo or not. Teddy bears are a child’s toy. Are our children supposed to be sexy? Considered potential sexual partners? How young is too young to wear sexy intimates and pout while teetering on stilettos?

I asked an attorney friend of mine, off the record, about general child pornography statutes. Obviously neither Kohl’s nor Candie’s does anything close to that or illegal, and I’m not suggesting they do. But I was curious,what if a person (an older teen boyfriend or adult male) created a photo like the one above, but it was a 10 year old girl instead of an adult Britney Spears? What would be the call? Lingerie is packaging for sex and retailers are selling lingerie-like panties to very young girls. In many cases these girls are too young to understand the messages they would be sending. That makes my stomach turn. My friend said it is a gray area, which I understand. But when it comes to childhood and sex, there is no room for shades of gray. There is NO amount of sex that is appropriate during childhood.

I started asking parents – eyewitness to their daughter’s development and clothing battles in their homes. Heads exploded. Comments ranged from “Inappropriate” to “Should be illegal” to “Not for my daughter” to “It helps with panty lines” to “They’ll look like strippers”. I saw eyebrows raise, mouths fall open, and faces turn angry. People couldn’t believe that a company would market this kind of underwear to young girls.

So this got me thinking, historically the tiniest of thongs is called a “G-string”, a name given to them by dancers and strippers in clubs who wear this as part of their costuming. Parents had expressed concern that if their daughter was wearing one, she would be perceived as ‘looking like strippers’. So I called up a stripper. I had a most fascinating conversation with Amber, a house mom at a local strip club here in my area. She is a former dancer and now mom of two small kids, and she seemed to convey a stronger sense of family values and social responsibility than either corporations you’ll read about in a minute. We spoke by phone, so I couldn’t see her face, but that allowed me to focus on her voice. And I heard emotion. Frustration. Anger. Amber felt girls are wearing this stuff to feel sexy, that they’ve been taught that’s what sexy is. She said parents need to be more involved because girls were doing this to get attention and schools were too lax on sex and conduct/dress standards. Amber said she had no intention of allowing her children to be exposed to this and that she would never allow her daughter to wear a thong like the python one described above while she was living with her. And then, she said this:

You know, there is a backlash against girls like me. And it isn’t fair. I think what you’re talking about is wrong. People may not agree with what I do for a living, but I pay my bills and provide for my family and people coming in the club to see the shows are legal, 18 and over. But in the stores, that isn’t the case. Girls can buy those thongs but they wouldn’t be allowed to even peek into the club if they are under 18. My industry gets criticized a lot, but we don’t take advantage of kids, we don’t make money off of kids like those corporations do. – Amber, house mom at a Gentlemen’s Club

I was in complete agreement with Amber, so next I wanted to ask a pediatrician what they thought about the issue. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t making a mountain out of a molehill. I sent a message to a friend of mine who is a doctor here in WI and also a mom of a young girl. My question to her was “Can you give me any info, if there is any, on health risks associated with young girls wearing thongs?” Her reply:

A minor medical issue that may result is vaginal or labial irritation, or vulvovaginitis, caused by wearing a thong in the context of poor personal hygiene. My bigger concern, however, is the other choices these girls are being encouraged to make, with regard to their bodies and their sexual health. These young, preteen girls are just beginning to experience all of the physical and psychological changes that come with puberty. By oversexualizing their immature bodies, they may be at a greater risk for engaging in early sexual activity and therefore, at a higher risk for pregnancy and sexually -transmitted infection. – Dr.  H, Pediatrician in Wisconsin

Three mothers: A house mom, a doctor, and me. Interesting bed fellows, I agree. Yet, three mothers all with very young girls, each feeling like a mother to all girls as we looked at this issue.

When I challenged Candie’s about marketing sexy panties to young girls, a rep from Candie’s left a comment on my blog, then sent me a message on Twitter, then sent me an email, all with contradictory or absent contact info and three different age ranges as to who is Candie’s demographic. First it was 16-21 years old. But their own website says 7-16 and Juniors. Then an email response said 18-24 years old. Which is it, Candie’s? The print ads run in teen magazines, arguably read by girls far younger than the 18 years they claim to market to. I don’t know how many 24 year olds wear training bras. Even if their market is 16-21 years old like written by a Candie’s rep on my blog, wouldn’t the promotion on Twitter of Britney Spear’s song “Three”, an ode threesomes, be inappropriate?  Especially considering a 16 year old participating in a threesome, aside from being illegal, would have more chances of getting pregnant, not something Candie’s is trying to promote with their Candie’s Foundation against teen pregnancy.

I continued to press for answers, and was directed to Kohl’s. Fine. So I email Kohl’s, and get a corporate sounding response from an Assistant Manager in the Correspondence Department. I was told “the Candie’s brand is meant to be stylish and invoke self-confidence” and the other brands are carried to appeal to different tastes. I found this incredibly stupid for three reasons.

  • I don’t care if grown women (18 years+) are wearing thongs. I don’t give a hoot. My concern that the thongs were being merchandised to young teen/tween girls was not addressed.
  • Just because other brands are offered does not negate the wrong-doing of the brand over here. I’m not going to shift focus from the problem. Pump fake.
  • Candie’s may be considered stylish by some. But ‘invoke self-confidence’? Hypersexualization does not invoke self-confident girls. It creates confused girls and endangered girls.

I was invited to call with further questions. I had a lot of further questions. So I called and spoke with this same Assistant Manager in the Correspondence Department. I got the overall impression that one) Kohl’s should have given me someone higher up to speak to, and two) they seem seriously confused on what builds self-confidence in young women. Most of the same verbage from the email was regurgitated during the phone call. I questioned Kohl’s embracing a brand like Candie’s who uses overtly sexual marketing to capture the attention of young girls. I asked about the proximity of the sexy panties to the training bras and the Juniors section. I asked how this was meant to empower a young girl?

Here’s what I got, from the corporate representative who was handling my escalated customer service complaint and was told she was on the record:

  • “We offer other choices of brands and styles.”
  • “Candie’s will continue to be an exclusive brand for us. It does well for us.”
  • “We implement changes based on customer feedback.”
  • “I agree with you, and you can always vote with your money.”
  • “Bottom line: it sells”

Bottom line, it sells. Bottom line, it sells?!? The bottom line is this doesn’t sell with me. Hell no.

Had she crafted a prepared statement saying something about Candie’s brand really is meant for older teens and young twenty-somethings and that Kohl’s will look at how items are displayed and merchandised in their stores, I would have accepted that. I would have followed up, but I would have accepted that. I’m not out to burn people on stakes, I’m out to make positive changes for our girls and get people thinking about media literacy. I think Kohl’s has a lot to learn on the topic.

There was no carefully crafted statement. At least Huffy gave me a statement about bike paths. Kohl’s said it loud and clear: BOTTOM LINE: IT SELLS.

Is that acceptable to you? If something is sold to children makes a lot of money for a corporation, should that be all there is to it? Or should there be more? Should there be a sense of social responsibility? Should there be backlash from parents who are so sick and tired of their girls being exploited? Should the companies hear about it?

Many dozens of people have told me they have paid off and cancelled their Kohl’s cards or that they will no longer shop at Kohl’s. I will no longer shop at Kohl’s. There response was far from what I find acceptable. I think until there are changes made, that is the right thing to do. Let’s all vote with our dollars by taking our dollars elsewhere until Kohl’s puts our kids ahead of their bottom line.

Add your voice to the mix. Encourage your daughters to speak up, too. Here’s who I spoke with:

Candie’s: Cory Cole email: Ccole@iconixbrand.com

Kohl’s: Jessica Swearingen 262-704-9185, Assistant Manager of Correspondence

Kohl’s Customer Service: customer.service@kohls.com



Comments

  1. I just, wow. I don’t even know what to say that would capture how messed up it is to offer preteens sexy lingerie. I remarked to my husband the other night that women don’t care what undergarments they wear until they start to think about showing someone else what they’ve got on. We generally go for comfort rather than playing sex kitten. Maybe that isn’t a fair generalization, but if it is, does that mean these girls are buying sexy underwear with the intention of being sexually active and showing her body to a boy? That scares me.
    .-= Diana Lee´s last blog ..Try Aspirin for a Mild Migraine =-.

  2. Thank you for bringing this our attention. I have not been in to our local Kohls to see if the display is set up the same way here, but having worked for a giant retail corp in the past, I bet it is. I’ll have to go look.

    As a father of two young girls, this kind of stuff breaks my heart, but doesn’t surprise me. At least Kohls was honest – the bottom line is THE BOTTOM LINE. And that makes parental skill that much more important. You are right on about media litteracy. We can’t escape these messages, if Kohls does the right thing and reworks their displays, there will be another knuckle head who thinks “Oh, lets use sexy to sell to kids too.” (To be clear, I am by no means suggesting giving this, or any other example of it a pass.) In order for me to protect my kids, I have to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations with them about stuff like this.

    As the definition of a good father changes, I need to rethink the protector role – protecting my kids is more and more about communication and conversation than it was for generations past. I have to talk abut what makes a girl beautiful, what makes her special, what makes her valuable to this world, and how she should expect to be treated by boys, men other girls and women – and in so doing, counter the mesages they get that boil girlhood/womanhood down to objects.

    Thanks again for a really important post.
    Brian
    @strongfathersme

  3. Melissa!!!!! Oh my gosh :( This infuriates me. As the mother of four daughters, it concerns me deeply to see the way society’s focus has shifted so drastically. There are no boundaries in mainstream marketing anymore. As Kohl’s rep said, the bottom line is always MONEY. They don’t care about the effects of their unspoken messages that are being sent to our youth – to them, that is the parent’s responsibility which may be true; but we can’t hide the world from them and there has to eventually be a level of accountability when it comes to distasteful advertising such as these.

    Most of our children learn visually, and despite what we – as parents – are telling them, they’re going to look at this and believe that if “everyone” says it’s okay then it must be… (and if it’s displayed in a STORE, it “can’t” be inappropriate) and we as parents are left to fight the perception that we’re being overly protective, unfair, or behind in the times. There are so many words floating around in my head and it’s hard to arrange them all in one comment.

    It’s so disheartening to realize how little regard corporations that our dollars feed are giving to our children, their self-image, and their safety.
    .-= Kat @ For the Love of Chaos´s last blog ..Goodness Sakes! {Fibromyalgia, Kids, & College} =-.

  4. Crossposting shortly for our week long series supporting Girls Rights Week in honor of Girls, Inc. http://j.mp/Girlsinc (Your readers can add themselves to our resource list for a chance to win the pink think tome from our nonprofit’s advisory board crew at PackagingGirlhood.com :-) w00t! In solidarity and with appreciation, Amy
    p.s. Oh, I tweeted to you, “Girls have the right to be children” (not ‘little women!) that’s my add to their six top spots on the bill of rights)
    .-= Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth´s last blog ..Shaping Youth Honors Girls Rights Week May 3-7 =-.

  5. That is awful. Just awful. Both the fact that they are positioning them for that demographic segment and the horrid response you got. Ugh.
    .-= Annie @ PhD in Parenting´s last blog ..Age three: defiance with a smirk =-.

  6. UG. Thank you for taking so much time and energy to not only confront this issue, but to bring it to our attention as well. I will be linking over here from my blog.

  7. Mary Ann says:

    This is disgusting. I will be contacting both. I was equally disgusted by a sign in Urban Outfitters at Mall of America last Sunday. Proudly displayed on the wall, one of those “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” banners, but this one said “HAPPY BIRTHDAY FUC***” I’m not amused by this public display of profanity, as I had my 10 year old son and 16 year old daughter with me. I called the manager over, (twenty-something with multiple lip piercings) and said he had no problem with the sign. However, when I told him I was photographing it and would be posting it on the Internet, he started taking it down. I’m not a prude, but someone has to stand up for what is right.

  8. This just, makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. I had Days of the Week underwear when I was a kid and I turned out just fine.

    I think this inappropriate marketing strategy is going to lead to nothing good…maybe even making sex ‘okay’ for kids. Maybe not in the literal sense, but the smallest spark can ignite the largest flame, right? I just think it’s a terrible idea getting kids (as young as 8!!!) started with the habit of needing to ‘appear sexy.’ As it said above, “Sexy for whom?” A child has enough problems as is, kids being mean to one another, tattling, who can and can’t be in the secret club. Don’t make them grow up before they have to be! They have their whole lives to be grown up.

  9. I am impressed by the amount of research and the number of people you contacted about this post.

    I don’t shop at Kohl’s (because there isn’t one that close and I try not to shop at chains as much as possible) but if I did, I would stop. And I would let them know why. If what matters is the bottom line than that is the only way we can have any effect over this. Once their profits drop then they will change their mind.

    My daughter is only 7 but this fills me with dread.
    .-= Kim Woodbridge´s last blog ..First Year Freelancing – 12% off all Services for the Month of May =-.

  10. Amazing. I don’t shop at Kohl’s because I find their pricing/sales strategy annoying and insulting, but now I will never enter another of their stores.

  11. Michael in Kansas says:

    As a father of daughters………… AAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. ysadora says:

    I will be giving Candies and Kohl’s pieces of my mind just as soon as I finish here! I have three daughters, ages 14, 14, and 18. I want them to have self-confidence and healthy, lusty sexuality. This means taking their own time and following their own tastes, and never being rushed nor pushed by any corporation (manufacturer, marketer, or seller, OR religion or other such group)…The companies involved here have lost my business forever. This IS kiddie porn: you can be sure pedophiles will be using it as such, and they can do so without fear of penalty. This part of rabid American capitalism makes me utterly ill. It should not be allowed.

  13. ugh! i <3 kohl's, but this is definitely going to make me rethink shopping there. i just might have to tell them how i feel about it too. thank u for bringing attention to this matter. young girls are being sexualized way. too. early. and now we also have kohl's to thank for this. sad. :(

  14. I remember many years ago, Abercrombie Kids produced thong underwear for their stores. Started at kids size 10 (and went up to 16 I think). They were printed with messages like “wink, wink” and “hot stuff”. I was STUNNED when I saw it and I didn’t even have children yet. I was just a designer for a competing major brand checking out the competition. I think there was such an uproar about it that it got pulled from the line within the same year. Maybe if Kohls feels the same pressure, they’ll think twice about reordering that part of the Candies line.

  15. Laurie says:

    I haven’t seen the thongs, but I have seen sexy training bras in the Target girls’ department. Molded cups, fancy prints, lace. Who is supposed to see them on these girls?

  16. Wow. Thank you for so thoroughly reporting this issue. I’m now curious to check out other stores’ juniors section. I suspect Kohl’s is not the only retailer marketing clothes inappropriate for young girls. And it won’t be long terribly before my daughter is shopping in these sections. yikes.

  17. hatetotellyouthis says:

    While putting lingerie-esque underwear and what not by training bras is excessive and should be something that could be easily rectified, this is not the problem. As a 20-something’s male, I’m disgusted by the generation of pre-teens, and teenagers that have come after me. Mainly because I can’t tell the friggin difference between them and someone my age anymore. The women I date are obviously of the age where they know when and how to be sexy and what times dressing as such is and is not appropriate, but I don’t think this younger generation does. I don’t know if it’s the fact they want to be “grown up” or if they just think thats how it is now, but there is a considerable amount more of ‘slutily’ dressed young girls these days than there was even 10 ago when I was in High school. And it doesn’t just end there, I go to the mall now (this has happened more than once), which I’ve come to despise, because I will get ‘women’ (who initially, don’t strike me wrong in any way) coming up to talk to me/hitting on me/flirting etc…, and then when it gets to the point of no-return conversation, I’m forced to ask the question of “how old are you?” just to make sure, and the responses back have been as young as 14(!). My immediate response to something like that is an audible laugh, and either a shooshing away of said girls as my skin begins to crawl in disgust, an immediate flight response, or saying something like “and how old do you think I am? why don’t you go find your mother”. I don’t know if this is a game to them, or they just think because of the way they dress and look they might be more attractive to older men or because of the way they dress and look they think they should be treated like they are older. This ‘hypersexualization’ definitely has to stop, let kids be kids, teach kids to be kids, don’t make them grow up so fast (that’s what college is for…j/k…sort of), it is a dangerous proposition in many ways, but the root of it is the ideals, ideas, and lessons learned and instilled by the parents, and their level of control in allowing their daughters to conform to misplaced norms or doing the right thing, which not enough parents these days are doing.

  18. Small wonder why the US has the highest rate of teenaged and unplanned pregnancy in the industrialized world. Was there no one in either company that thought this was a bad idea?

  19. I wouldn’t feel comfortable knowing my 8 year old was wearing these…so I won’t buy them, simple. Moral outrage not required, let the markets decide.

  20. Denise says:

    Ok. So although I agree that it is unnecessary for pre-teens or even teens for that matter to wear a thong, I think everyone’s “OH MY GOSH” and “I’M APPALLED” reaction is a bit over the top. If you don’t believe something is good for your child, then don’t buy it!! I think Heely’s are the most annoying invention ever for children. I have been in the mall numerous times and have almost been run over by rollerskating 6 to 15 years olds. I think it is rude to allow your child to skate around a store and have seen kids get hurt on them. They are not anything I would ever buy for my kids and although they have begged me for years I have stuck to my guns. I also don’t believe children should have cell phones either. With texting, sexting, video uploads, etc I find it a danger for kids to have them. But just because my view are that of the above, it doesn’t mean I am going to boycott every store that sells cell phones, or not buy things from a store that sells Heely’s. Being a good parent and one who teaches my children good morals is enough. If Kohl’s wants to sell thongs in the junior section, well then let them. My daughter will learn from me how to be a strong, independent, moral woman with a mind of her own. Do any of you really think that your daughters will be so influenced by the thongs in the Junior section of Kohls that they will be pregnant by the age 14 and become strippers? C’mon people, are you all that naive? I agree that the thongs are wrong, I believe that we live in a world full of immorality, but please stop acting like immorality is something new. Love your children, teach them well, talk to them and treat them with respect and they will grow up and maybe make a difference in this world!!

  21. Alicia says:

    I am going to to shopping at KOHLS tomorrow! I might buy some of those thongs and wear them. Hmm… I might also buy some BootyShorts for my 3 year year old to go with her BIKINI!

    I think you are being rediculas.

    I ya’ll dont want your daughters to wear thongs, dont buy them. If you want to send your 16 year old to school in ‘days of the week’ underwear go ahead and see how much they hate you when they are being made fun of.

    Oh yeah. For Christmas, I bought my 6 year old cousin a thong. She thought it was GREAT!

  22. I greatly admire your tenacity in following this clearly unacceptable and exploitative issue through many means and avenues. It’s marketing madness.

  23. Alicia (who is probably a troll, but whatever)

    Why would a girl get made fun of at school for what underwear she is wearing? Who is going to see it?

  24. It’s more than just our own personal views. This is about a society (or capitalism) in general pushing young girls to be sexualized at a young (REALLY) young age. Anyone involved with children at a professional level has at some point been exposed to the ramifications of doing that to a child. None of them good. It is for society’s sake that American parents need to use their dollars wisely and be vocal about why they are not spending them in certain places. This is how you activate change. Isn’t this what being American is about?? (I’m not, just in case you didn’t get that yet.) Aren’t Americans the ones who talk about being socially active? Standing up for your rights? Well, your children can’t really stand up the way their adult parents can. And children deserve parents who will stand up and be a voice and a force for good in their world. THAT is a wonderful example to set. Good luck to all of you.

  25. My Kids' Mom says:

    I have 4 girls, ranging in age from 22-4. The thong craze came in as my eldest was growing up and I flat refused to EVER allow her to have one. As the next two came up, I kept the same policy. While I agree that they are lingerie (to be worn for un-dressing), I’ve never understood the logic – how something that is less sanitary and something that actually shows out of the top of the pant waist, or worse, causes clothing to be drawn into one’s rear end, is desired by any female regardless of age. Marketing and herd mentality must be the answer. Thong wearers may say it makes them “feel” sexy, but the rest of us are just feeling awkward when sitting or walking behind them. Because I was such a “backward” mom, my eldest, now in grad school, thought I would enjoy hearing that a recent article she saw claimed thongs were going out of style. That was the best mother’s day news I’ve heard. Let’s tell Candies!

  26. Shannon says:

    I share the same view as Denise. The world is full of choices. It is the ones you choose that shape who you are. I began wearing thong underwear in my early 20′s. I have been wearing them ever since and I am now 45. Does my 11 year old daughter wear them? Hell no. Do I want her to? Hell no. That is a choice I make. My children (11 and 14) also do not have cell phones. That is a choice I make. You are the parent, they are the children. You make the choices. Too many parents give in to their kids and then unfortunately the ones who do the right thing end up being the minority. It has to stop somewhere. Yes, my kids complain about things they want and don’t have, but they get over it and I feel in the long run it will make them better adults and they will pass these values on to their children.

  27. ——— YOU HAVE ALL BEEN FOOLED!!! ———

      I suppose the person whose blog this is assumed that nobody would follow the links, and see where they really led.  The intent was apparently to promote a hoax, and create a moral panic over nothing.

      It’s easy enough to follow the links, and find the truth.  NEITHER KOHL’S NOR THE CANDIE’S BRAND ARE PROMOTING THONG PANTIES NOR ANYTHING ELSE IMMODEST FOR LITTLE GIRLS.

      The thong panties at the link provided in this blog, on the Kohl’s web site, both in the Candie’s brand and in other brands, are for “juniors” (women) and not for children.  The Candie’s brand doesn’t even seem to offer any panties for at all for young girls, and among the panties that Kohl’s sells for girls, none or thongs or otherwise particularly immodest.

      Here are all the categories at Kohl’s that include panties for preteen girls.  Note that there are no thongs or otherwise overtly “sexy” styles among them…

      • http://www.kohls.com/kohlsStore/kids/socksunderwear/toddlers.jsp
      • http://www.kohls.com/kohlsStore/kids/girls46x/socksunderwear/underwear.jsp
      • http://www.kohls.com/kohlsStore/kids/girls716/socksunderwear/underwear.jsp

      And that lingerie-like outfit being modeled by Brittney Spears?  It’s a swimsuit, fairly modest, actually, as bikini-type swimwear goes.  And it’s not for children, but for “juniors”.  See how the very same outfit is presented on Kohls’ site:

        http://www.kohls.com/kohlsStore/landingpages/candies_new/juniors/swim/PRD~c18203/Candies+Ditsy+Floral+Ruffled+Swim+Separates.jsp

      I guess there really is a sucker born every minute.

    • Bob -
      My post was in relation to how the underwear is merchandised in the store, which means where it is located within the retail space, not how it is categorized online. I think you missed the point. I assure you and the rest of my readers can accurately assume that I do have valid links, check my facts, and have complete transparency. Please reread the post as to your comments about who Kohl’s and Candie’s really consider to be “juniors”. What you are seeing online and how they market to young teens/tweens is vastly different.

      Media literacy, my friend.

  28. The post by Hatetotellyouthis was very interesting to me – this is exactly the problem that the sexualization of children in marketing and the media has led to. You say the problem isn’t the underwear, it’s the behavior of the pre-teens and teens. But the messages that girls are getting from the time they are very young is that this is the appropriate way to dress and act. And the messages are repeated everywhere, all the time. Many very vigilant parents are very, very frustrated by their inability to protect their kids from this barrage of harmful messages.

    He says “The women I date are obviously of the age where they know when and how to be sexy and what times dressing as such is and is not appropriate, but I don’t think this younger generation does.” That’s exactly right – many of them don’t because the sleazy, oversexed culture is undermining even those parents who are ultra-aware and try to teach their kids. Imagine the effects on kids whose parents are not aware- or just overworked and focused on providing basic necessities – and there are plenty of those. And then peer pressure kicks in at a very early age.

    “Parent responsibility” can’t stand up to the marketing machine and you can’t raise your children in a vacuum. You would never buy those things for your child, but she still sees them on the shelf, and so she still gets the message: you need to be sexy.

    And what about my boys? I certainly don’t want them to have this image of girls, but the pat answer of simply not buying them the underwear doesn’t really work here. They do shop at Kohls, and they will pass by this display, and they will get the message, too. Kids are subject to a constant barrage of damaging messages, and parents can only do so much as individuals.
    I’m going over to Kohls, and I’m going to check for myself. If I don’t like what I see, I will complain.

  29. It’s more than just our own personal views. This is about a society (or capitalism) in general pushing young girls to be sexualized at a young (REALLY) young age. Anyone involved with children at a professional level has at some point been exposed to the ramifications of doing that to a child. None of them good. It is for society’s sake that American parents need to use their dollars wisely and be vocal about why they are not spending them in certain places. This is how you activate change. Isn’t this what being American is about?? (I’m not, just in case you didn’t get that yet.) Aren’t Americans the ones who talk about being socially active? Standing up for your rights? Well, your children can’t really stand up the way their adult parents can. And children deserve parents who will stand up and be a voice and a force for good in their world. THAT is a wonderful example to set. Good luck to all of you.

  30. Thank you Erin for bringing up a great point about boys seeing these messages too. It’s not just parents of girls that have to fight this. So many times I hear moms of boys saying “Oh, I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with that,” and it frustrates me so much because those messages are bad for ALL children, not only our girls. Not only will girls feel they need to be “sexy,” boys will start to see that as normal too.

  31. Maryann says:

    Maybe I’m just hopelessly old and out of it, but why are there even “training bras?” What’s being trained? If a girl has developed to the point of needing a bra, it seems to me that she needs a bra. Not a lacy, push-up, underwire affair, but something comfortable so she can still run around and play like 8-13 year olds are supposed to. I have two granddaughters and I see what’s going on with marketing to girls these days as obnoxious in the extreme. Everything is pink unicorns, and apparently now it’s pink unicorn thongs.

  32. thisisstupid says:

    It is a juniors section! They have a section for size 8-16 which does have the little girl underwear. The juniors section is for when they hit older sizes! The next thing you will be complaining about is that they have thongs lingerie section. Juniors is not just for kids its for girls in the 20s and 30s too!!!!!

  33. I don’t shop at Kohl’s, but I will continue to not shop there. Didn’t WalMart actually pull the inappropriate young girls’ underwear when they were called on it? I don’t shop at WalMart, either, but I can’t believe that they are more customer responsive than Kohl’s.

    I have a 13 year old daughter and neither of us is comfortable with this sexualization of children.

    I recommend reading Susan Douglas’s Enlightened Sexism, which has a section devoted to the hyper-sexualization of young girls. It’s an excellent, frustrating read.

  34. I feel this article relates to me wholeheartedly, I started wearing thongs and g-strings as a pre-teen. But the truth be told I was actually a kid. But please let me explain myself before anyone displays there disapproval of me as I don’t wish to upset anyone.

    Up until I was 11 years old or so I took dance (disco) and when I was 8 or so in dance class all us girls were advised about VPL and it should no longer show. Anyways with a brief discussion with my mum my teacher let her no about alternatives to prevent my panty lines from showing.

    Being as young as I was, my mum would often dress in the morning before heading out for practice. Well, I was ajusting my cosy at break and couldn’t find the back of my knickers until I was informed by an older women in the class I was wearing a thong, I knew what a thong was has my mum wore them her self.

    So I quess that’s how most girls in my class ended up avoiding vpl, they wore thongs. Although some girls were very young they were allowed to stick with the normal undies. Since I started wear thongs they become my underwear choice on a daily basis really has it was much easier getting dressed and I haven’t changed my mind on them at all as I find them comfy as ever.

    What I have to say for most girls, especially around my age group, that all thongs and g-strings are just another pair of underwear like boyshorts and girl boxers.

  35. Hello,

    I am a Christian, I believe in Jesus, now, part of me is stunned to hear this, and part of me is not surprised at all. Lets not stop here, lets look at the morality of the world that we live in today, TV, Movies, Videogames, Music, to just name a few, many characters in these wear/drawn, created with intensive sexual clothing, to attract a statistical percentage of our youths. I took my 13 yr old nephew to a PG-13 Movie, many years ago, and found myself walking out and going to the manager, because the movie previews before the feature presentation were “R” rated, and I didn’t want to expose him to that. It didn’t do any good, I was told they have no control over that, and I wager that even if they did, they wouldn’t do anything about, or they might lose a vital percentage of customers, and their money.

    Lets look at the Movie rating system, who decides what movies are good for our young people, example: Alien vs Predator,(PG-13). Lets analyze this, all the Alien movies up to this were rated “R”, all the Predator movies up to this were rated “R”, so how is it possible for the movie itself to be rated PG-13. Why, for the money, plain and simple, they would lose profit if it were rated any higher; how long this has been going on, I’d say for almost or over 10 years.

    Look at the world everyone, its not just this topic, there are many things in todays world, where money, power is all that matters, vanity, popularity, who has the best whatever, when will it stop, how will we keep our young people protected, keep the world away from destroying the innocence of our children.

    There is only one answer, Jesus. Life is short, when I was a teen of 15, my brother of 16 passed away, and life since then, well, I’ve been through h.ll, but with the Lords guidance in my life, the horrors of my past are easier to tread, given the Lords mercy, mercy over things that I could never forgive myself for. Prayer, I’m not the best at prayer, but in cases such as these, I believe it is a necessity.

    How will we save our children, only God knows.

  36. First off I am a single father of a 12 yr old girl. There have been assorted agencies watching me like a hawk presuming that because I am male that I can’t control my hormones throughout my daughters entire life. For the comment “sex sells” this is an unfortunate truth about society today. I FIND IT DEPLORABLE THAT CORPORATE MALES ARE ALLOWED TO CONDUCT BUSINESS WITH THE MENTALITY OF A PEDOPHILE, AND IT IS SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE. Furthermore that it appears to be encouraged, it is obvious that the CEO’s, designers, and everyone involved in that type of juniors product is either still single and fantasizes about females often, or already is a pedophile.
    Candie’s on the one hand sells a product to an audience that doesn’t understand the perception of said product, (lingerie = gift wrap). But on the other hand they are so active to prevent teen pregnancy, not pre-teen though? There is something to be stated for dressing modestly in an age appropriate manner. I think that corporations have to stop putting the cart before the horse as a cure for a problem they fuel all for the sake of sexually exploiting the younger generation for the sake of money. After reading this article I wish there was a Kohl’s in close proximity to me, as I would make rather short work of destroying the entire stock, either by physically destroying it, or by burning it on the showroom floor.

  37. I can not believe this.Just horrifying.Who in the world would sell that kind of underwear to young girls.I have an eight year old daughter,and I would never let her wear this kind of thing.Do these marketers have any idea what they are doing? They are teaching children that to get attention,you have to be sexy.I cannot believe what people are doing to our girls.

  38. To say that a product is sexualising young girls is a matter of opinion. I am certain that the manufacturer is aware of the effect that seeing “sexy lingerie” has on these girls, and is capitalizing on it. Appealing to a burgeoning group of not-quite-adolescent girls is in the best interest of the company as long as it is profitable. The only thing that the consumer can do is to not purchase the item. As the author did buy the panties, this point has been lost.

  39. This post is absolutely ridiculous. The sad thing is that what is ridiculous about this is not the topic matter of this post, but the sheer ignorance of the post and most of the comments on this post.

    First of all this entire post makes me feel like I stepped into a time warp. Its like its the 1950′s all over again and parents are having a fit because their preteen/teen daughter is going to wear a two piece bathing suit and that somehow equates to “sex”. If only someone could have shown them 60 years into the future – a time when a two piece bathing suit wasn’t considered sexy, but rather just normal. In fact its so normal that they even make and sell them REGULARLY in sizes for newborns and toddlers. Damn everyone on earth must be a pedophile or looking to exploit children in that future…..

    You are talking about UNDERWEAR. Not the wrapping to some present, not some magical treasure map, just plain old underwear for a child. The fact YOU see them as “SEXY” is YOUR flaw. And why is it that you see them as sexy? Why is it you see britney and think she looks like a cheap slut (okay you didn’t use those words, but no point implying things when we all know what you meant). Do you think Michael Jordan is being cheap and slutty in the hanes commercials or is this strictly a one sided sexist topic?

    The truth is they are not sexy underwear, they are not anything except…. underwear. I know MANY MANY girls who wear thongs and g-strings everyday (two people commented on this post and i doubt either feel sexy when they wear them) – some who don’t own anything but thongs and g-strings. They wear them when they are single, they wear them in a relationship, and they even wear them to McDonalds (must be they are trying to get their freak on in the greasy fry room?).

    Now on top of this lets talk about the realities of healthy living – call your doctor if you want to I would love to hear what a professional thinks about this… but… they have to be able to set parenting aside and strictly look at things from a medical perspective.

    You yourself said the words training bra. This means you must realize your child is (was) going through puberty if they are wearing training bra’s. If your child has reached the age of puberty, like it or not, that means they are starting to have sexual feelings. Its par for the course. Its going to also be par for the course that they WANT to feel sexy.

    Now if the child is raised by parents who think the clothing we wear can make us more or less sexy and its obvious that’s the case or the topic wouldn’t be an issue at all, then naturally the child is going to want to wear such clothes because they will believe that’s what makes them sexy – thus they will feel sexy and that’s HEALTHY for them to feel.

    However, if the child is raised by parents who think the only thing that makes someone more or less attractive is whats going on inside someones head – then clothes will never even come into the picture because the child will never take on the belief of “clothes make me sexy”.

    Now of course one can try to argue there are outside influences and thats true to a degree but hardly one worthy of mention. The truth is most of these behaviors are learned from parents and through their actions. When a parent “dresses up” to go out to dinner, when they “get dressed in church clothes”, and countless other times in a childs life. Its all as if to say “children, we didn’t look good enough before so we had to make ourselves look better”.

    As long as parents enforce and re-enforce that looks matter, that clothes can make us sexy, that we need to dress certain ways for certain things, that we dress differently at some ages than other ages, that clothes can alter who we are in some magical way rather than embracing its all about what goes on inside out heads then children are going to continue to wear such things, and it will get worse not better because as it becomes a social norm, then things have to get even more risque to be “sexy” and the problem just escalates more and more each generation.

    For the record I am a father of two children ages 9 and 11 years old…. my views are my views on parenting – not just some random person who doesn’t understand the protectiveness of a parent.

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