Sexualization Shouldn’t Sell Swimsuits

Image from Submarine Kids (R)

Dear Deborah Soriano,

Yesterday I received a message from a reader of mine who had gotten an eblast from a company marketing your line of swimwear, with the tag line as being “kid-appropriate”. She was a little shocked, as was I, when we went to your website and found very young female models vamped up and posed provocatively in your Submarine swimwear line. Little girls do not wear wigs and make-up to the beach, nor does the way you have them posed come naturally to them. You have directly and willingly sexualized these young girls for your commercial purposes.

As a mother of a young girl and a children’s apparel manufacturer myself, the photos on your website make me extremely uneasy. I personally find them to have crossed the line of appropriateness. While not illegal or pornographic, you certainly are playing up the pending sexuality of these little girls to sell your garments. Deborah, I find that repulsive.

Image from Submarine Kids (R)

As a woman and as a fellow business owner, I ask that you take some time to examine your marketing practices, and consider a more appropriate and non-sexualizing approach when you shoot your next season’s release. Certainly you have creative staff on hand to allow your brand to continue to be trendy and hip without having to exploit children to make sales. Your company’s practices directly contribute to the culture of sexualization our children are forced to grow up in. There is no reason or excuse for it.

I frequent children’s boutiques regularly both for business and for my family’s personal shopping. When I see your brand in their retail spaces, I will be sure to mention to each and every shop owner my issues with the level of sexualization portrayed on your website, thus leaving me never wanting to purchase your clothing or swimwear for my own daughter.

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you the issues around sexualization and perhaps help you craft some better business practices.

Best-

Melissa Wardy

Owner/Family Advocate Pigtail Pals, LLC

www.pigtailpals.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PUSH BACK: If you find Submarine Kids (R) marketing practices to cross the line and directly contradict the company’s release (click to enlarge), I encourage you to email or call owner Deborah Soriano at  deborah@submarineswim.com or 305-931-4196 and in a kind and graceful way explain why these images upset you.

Text and image from Submarine Kids (R)

Comments

  1. sam campbell says:

    These photos make me want to vomit.

  2. sam campbell says:

    I am a mother of three young, cool, clothing loving girls. THESE photos make me want to vomit. There’s no way I’d let my little ones anywhere near this clothing line. YUCK!

  3. AMEN!!
    I tell my daughters this all the time.
    Let little girls be LITTLE GIRLS, Not Little sexy ladies!!!!

  4. Marianne says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I have two young girls and will never again buy anything from this store! I am disgusted with these photos!! I will certainly share this on my Facebook page and with every mother that I know!

  5. Charlene says:

    I have to disagree with you and your blog. I am as well a mother of two and I happen to LOVE this line. I highly recommend Submarine. I don’t see anything inappropriate about this line. Great fit and awesome quality.
    What I believe the problem is – the way you are looking at these pictures. Really, do you think they are promoting sexuality to sell? I happen to believe that maybe childhood sexuality is in YOUR mind, maybe a little much?!
    Before you slam a great line such as Submarine, you should really look into your source of information instead of overreacting like you are.

    • Charlene –
      My source of information begins here, the American Psychological Association’s Report of the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls (http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx).

      From there, you could jump over to the my Resources page which contains a giant list of research books and professionals who have tangible evidence against the sexualization of childhood. Perhaps it is not all in my head.

      • When I look at these pix, I cant help but see “sex”…and I am very modest and clean and pure in thought. I would hate to think that my young teenaged son would get ahold of this catalog…he is 13…this is a confusing and terrible time – where EVERYTHING is about sex…and then to put pix like these in front of him? That is just tempting him to fall into sinful and sick thoughts…that he would never fall into if it wasnt put in front of him…and you cant say that he would probably never see it bc I dont subscribe to the company or get their catalogs…its not about JUST this line…I dont even let him get the mail most of the time bc there are many companies out there who sexualize young girls to sell clothing…(altho this is the worst I have seen). I get ads all the time that I deem inappropriate for his confused and befuddled teen boy mind…Im sorry to rant again…but we all think about the poor girls who are in these ads…and I hate that they are learning so early in life to sex it up so they can get the shoot…(I have 2 kids who model and act professionally and often run into these issues) but I feel just as bad for the teenaged boys who end up seeing it and are confused as to what they are seeing…these are BABIES! Dressed like young 20 ravers…So my teenaged boy who sees this has to dissect this in his mind…the difference between the sexy clothes, makeup and wigs and the fact that they are on BABIES…wow…

        • Kim –
          You bring up the very valid point that marketing like this, which lends to the larger picture of the culture of sexualization surrounding our kids, ABSOLUTELY affects boys. If you hop to my Resources page, I think you’ll find several books written by colleagues of mine that will help you in raising your crew to be media literate and fight back against this kind of garbage.

        • I came across this article as my wife was facebooking and my 6 year old son was looking at her screen. He said :”WHO IS SHE!” Not talking about our friend who posted the article, but the young model, whom he might go to school with if she lived in the nieghborhood. As a Father of two sons, a 6 year old and a 19 month old, these articles pose opportunities for me to discuss appropriate interactions between my boys and the girls in which he comes in contact with. I try teach my son, and will teach my younger son soon enough, what it means to be a gentleman. It is tragic that I have to explain these kind of images to my six year old, but I would rather talk to him at age 6, before hormones lead him to act on base desires, rather than age 13 when society has told these young boys that they SHOULD be aroused by images such as these, and that when he goes to the public pool, the PEOPLE that he encounters are not THINGS for his hormonal sexual fantasies, but duaghters and sisters and individuals of value.

          We can’t fight puberty, but we can raise our sons and daughters to enter puberty with dignity, prepared for what they will expereince and armed with knowledge of how the media is trying to manipulate them.

      • Mason Coleman says:

        Melissa, great response to Charlene. Flat out…you were right. Period. No honest, objective review of the photos on Submarine’s site would lead to any other rational conclusion.

      • Charlene, there is a HUGE amount of research on this topic – the UK and Australia have also released reports on the sexualisation of children.
        UK, June 2011: https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationDetail/Page1/CM%208078#downloadableparts
        Australia, 2006: https://www.tai.org.au/documents/downloads/DP93.pdf)

        Far from it being all in Melissa’s head, after reading these reports I think you will find that it is a societal problem with far-reaching effects.

    • I totally agree with Charlene. Submarine makes cute suits and clothes. If you are worried about your daughters’ “sexual perceptions” based on what they see in the media, you shouldn’t be wasting your time complaining about a website that I’m sure your daughters won’t even see.

      Why don’t you focus on all the things they DO see where girls are typecast in a sexual way, or portrayed as “dingy” or boy crazy like some Disney and NicKelodeon shows/movies. These are the real threats to our daughters’ perceptions of “how” they should be.

      • emandink says:

        What on earth makes you think that Melissa and the rest of us who read this blog *don’t* also focus on media directed at our children?

        The problems here are twofold, starting with the fact that even putting a young child as young as 9-12 months – which is where the baby line starts – in an outfit meant to mimic the most sexually provocative swimwear on earth. A *child* does not need a string bikini. She needs a swimsuit that protects her tender skin from the sun and that allows her to frolic and play. Putting a small child in an outfit designed to emphasize the sexual attractiveness of grown women tells her that that’s what she is supposed to be at the most tender age – sexually attractive and available. The deliberate provocative makeup and poses on the models, along with the copy on the site that discusses explicitly trying to base the line on notoriously skimpy and sexually attactive Brazillian swimwear just drives the point home – these outfits are meant to mirror “bikini babes”.

        If that’s what my daughter wants to be when she’s 18, so be it. I’ve worn my share of skimpy beachwear/clubwear/whathaveyouwear in my time. But while she’s a child, I want my daughter to have the chance to be – and dress like – a child, without the baggage of wearing a cutout swimsuit that emphasized a sexuality that she is barely aware she has.

    • Hi Charlene,

      I am not sure what you think is appropriate for young girls in terms of dress and accessories. I believe that little girls are not the same as young women. Little girls are just that and not miniature versions of adult (models, in this case). I am not looking at these images as a perverted individual with sex on my mind. I am looking at these images as a woman who believes that a company who thinks it is okay to have little girls pouting and posing the way adult models in swimsuit ads do, is demeaning and perverted.

      Exactly what is the point here? What are they trying to say/sell? I’ve been in marketing and every single detail is INTENTIONAL. There is something they want the buyers of their swimwear to believe about what they are selling. What could they be telling us with these images?

      I also find it ironic that you think this is such a waste of time yet here you are devoting time to posting, following up on your post and then posting yet again.

      Lipstick is a manmade way of playing up on a natural sexual response in aroused female humans (fuller, redder lips). It DOES NOT belong on young girls.

      I am amazed at how you and the poster below seem to be unable to distinguish between the actual articles of clothing and the way they are being marketed – which is the issue in this blog post.

    • I don’t believe that Melissa was criticizing the quality of the swimsuits or the fit. I think that it’s pretty clear that she was making a statement about the company’s inappropriate marketing strategy.

    • Wow, Charlene is it…Are you really that naive? Or just plain ignorant?

      • I think the ignorants are the ones arguing with Charlene. She is on the dot. You are all perverts looking to those pictures with this mentality.

  6. I get tired of this lazy way of getting attention. Sexy=lazy marketing. I like to see ads for swimsuits where kids are actually playing in the water, swimming, diving, and so forth. There are fun ways to sell swimsuits for kids, so why sex it up?

  7. Charlene says:

    Why isn’t my comment coming out? It is not fair that I don’t have a voice to speak up for this line.

    • Dear Charlene –
      I apologize for my patheticness as your email stated, I have been running my children around town and have just returned home. I do my best to keep up with everything. As a busy mom, I’m sure you can understand. You’ll see that your previous and dissenting comment was indeed published.

      Have a great day!

  8. Wow, this is bad… how do they think this is good way to market their brand>? What sicko society are we living in?
    Sharing on SUnday SUrf

  9. I sent an email. Those little girls are posing for all the pervs out there who just downloaded them. (ewwww).

  10. I wrote to her. The advertising is terrible and over sexual and so are her swim suits. I would not let my 14 year old wear those suits let along my 6,6,8 year old. NO WAY.

  11. This is sick.

  12. claudia castoriano says:

    Hi everybody,

    I don’t understand what kind of comments are these about SUBMARINE. I have 2 girls, ages 21 and 18 now. I’ve been buying from SUBMARINE for the past 16 years, almost since they open, and my girls have always looked adorable and properly dressed for their ages!!! I still buy their collection for my girls, actually they buy for themselves now and I give out many gifts from her line and everybody loves it!!! Their catalog and photos are so modern,different and updated that I dont understand what all these comments come from!!!
    Get a life please!!!!

    • The problem is not the line of swim suits, it’s the photos! Big difference!

      • Mason Coleman says:

        Cynthia, after reading some of the comments here from people who are clearly in denial about the sexual nature of these photos, I get a sense of how the mothers on Toddlers & Tiaras convince themselves they aren’t harming their girls.

  13. ans jansen says:

    Why is it that we see little girls look like lamb dressed up as sheep? Mothers really we have enough problems with pedophiles do not do this to your kids!! Disgusting!

  14. My 6 y.o. dd was sitting on my knee as I was reading this. She wanted to know if the models were Monster High dolls in real skin. WHY do they have to make such skimpy stuff for young girls?

  15. Charlene says:

    Dear Claudia,
    I agree! I think that these women should get a life and spend their time doing actual important things in life! I don’t see sexy when I look at these pictures, I see a great UPSCALE line of swimwear. Maybe the sexuality is in their heads??? Are they looking at these children with sex in mind? I know I don’t!!!!!!

    • You know the swimwear might be great, though it will be a cold day in hell before I put a tiny triangle top on my daughters non-existent breasts. To each their own, though. The poses, makeup, and hair, are clearly meant to be sexually provocative. If you want to live in a world with blinders on to the reality of what our girls grow up with, that is your choice. It is not mine. I will never support a company that needs to make little girls look “sexy” to sell their products.

      • Claudia Castoriano says:

        You are sick!!!!!!!! They are so cute and not sexually provocative they are just modern and very trendy.

        • This is an interesting response as well and is a symptom of the greater problem. The marketing specialists have succedded in training you to believe that trendy IS sexy, sexy IS trendy. This kind of success from the media is the the same tactic that leads our culture to believe that an active sex life with multiple partners is “healthy” and that the sooner a young man and young lady begin this sexual activity, the more partners they can have, and the happier and healthier they will be. To continue this social agenda for our youth, society has developed mulitple methods of birth control and highlight the side effects that clear up acne and help ease menstrual cramps. “Have a happy period!”

          Some might say that this is a slippery slope and that I take the argument too far. “These are completely unrelated issues” some might say. But I don’t think so. A culture of sex and sex related products, apparel, and marketting is much more profitable than a culture of virtue and modesty. Why, because our human tendancy toward temptation is strong and our will toward order and a greater social health, is more dificult.

          A popular song some years ago said “You and me, baby are just a couple of mammals, so lets do it like they do on the discovery channel.” Really? Are we no better than the animals on the nature shows of discovery channel? Striving to mate with the youngest, most fertile specimen of the species? I can’t help but think that we are better than that.

    • It is interesting to me as a dad of two sons that you see the sexualization of young girls as unimportant. I recognize that you disagree with the majority of these article readers and believe that these photos are not sexualized. putting your own opinions about these specific images aside, I would hope that you can recognize the importance of protecting our youth from an oversexualized culture at an early age. The marketing strategies of these types of clothing, TV shows, etc. has led to a culture in which middle school girls are expereince epidemics of gonorrhea of the throat from group sex parties that these children are participating in in alarming numbers. Children in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades are comming up pregnant. Even MTV, one of the worst perpetrators of sexualization of the young has it’s HIT show, 16 and Pregnant.

      This article sites Submarine as one instance of a HUGE problem which we as a society should not overlook as unimportant.

      • Kevin, yes it is a slippery slope, but you are not taking it too far – you are exactly right! Slippery slopes are dangerous, and one thing leads to another… it is all related. The way adults behave regarding their own bodies has an effect on the children, and it is certainly a huge cultural problem in that people use sex to sell things instead of portraying it for what it should truly be: sacred and pure, not lustful and just for kicks. I see the issue of handing out condoms to middle schoolers as being along the same lines as these ads: both send a message to our youth that we expect them to be sexual.

  16. Add me to the list of people who won’t buy Submarine. These ads are disgusting. I love the Old Navy suits that have actual shirts for more UV blockage anyway. Seriously what’s with the raver wigs for little girls? More makeup than I wear out to a club!!??

    • Sasha b. says:

      What century do you live in? Old navy is a different market first of all. Second of all, to all you mothers like myself, are you guys simply perverted and bored with life? I would never promote sexuality with the youth. However, I have been buying Submarine suits for the past 15 years, and I don’t shop for the UV protection, I shop for cute, well-made bikinis. If you guys have a problem with the images, don’t look at them! But you clearly have no life to sit here and have a whole discussion thread. I literally came across this blog and thought it was a joke. For the exaggerated ones saying “vomit” and “ew” maybe you should reconsider the things in life that are worth scrutinizing. Fashionable bikini images grosses you out? What about the situation with millions of soldiers dying daily in Afghanistan and mothers being put on trial for murdering their children? Your values and priorities are distorted- yes that’s to everyone.

      • As the wife of a currently deployed Marine who is the loving father to our two little girls, he definitely agrees with me that these issues ARE worthy of scrutinizing. When I sent him this, his reaction was “Jesus Christ, is this for real?” He couldn’t believe that anyone would exploit innocent little girls like this. What is sad is that you see no problem with the pictures. The thought of my daughters looking at pictures like this and feeling like their self value is only wrapped up in how sexy they are at 6,8,10 is vomit inducing. Your ‘values’ of using sexual images of children to sell clothes and your ‘priorities’ of ignoring the issues at hand are the only ones distorted here.

      • “However, I have been buying Submarine suits for the past 15 years, and I don’t shop for the UV protection, I shop for cute, well-made bikinis.”

        Because we all know it’s much more important to be stylish than sun safety. Don’t talk down to Erica simply because SHE’s wise enough to be sure her children are protected from UV rays.

  17. This is so gross. My stomach is literally turning. I wrote to the owner and reshared on facebook. Gross, gross, gross.

  18. I really don’t get how anyone thinks that these models are not sexualized. The way they are posed, the fact that they have makeup on, the wigs, it all adds up to making them look sexy. I don’t care how cute the suits are, or how great their quality is, it’s gross. I’m not a prude, but sexualizing children is sick.

    • I think it’s a testament to how normalized these sorts of images have become, that many people don’t even think twice or recognize how odd it is to have such young girls posing in wigs and with heavy makeup on, trying to look so adult. =/

  19. From the neck down, I don’t see too much of a problem. But the overly made up, vapid looks on the faces of these little girls gives me the creeps. If you photoshopped the head of a makeupless, smiling, happy little girl in messy pigtails instead of a weird wig onto the picture of the girl with the starfish, I might actually see where your dissenters are coming from. But until then, maybe they aught to take another look with their eyes open.

    • Completely agree!! They pushed it too far. But as it comes to a general rule in life – You see what you look for. If you’re looking to find the crime, you will find it. My children are allowed to wear make-up and my wigs (I suffer from severe hair loss) when they’re in the house. But they are not allowd to wear them out of the house. My children are not allowed to wear bikini’s, but people who allow it are no less parents. Those ad campaigns certainly are pushing it – but my daughters would be over the moon to be able to wear and dress like those little girls without any sexua ideas whatsoever! It’s US who find problems with it – and put sexual feelings attached to them. But yes, I agree – they go too far and I would NOT want my children to see those photos displayed in a store because I know for sure, they would gravitate towards that look.

      • Coley –
        I’m not looking for the crime, I’m screaming red when I see a crime right in front of my face. I am not imposing my sexuality or thoughts on these images. I am stating what is very clearly there: sexualization, as defined by the four components from the APA’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. I have linked this once already, but will do so again because the information in it is really important for you to understand: http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx

        Specifically relevant to you and a few others who think it is I with the problem:
        There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when:
        a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
        a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
        a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
        sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person
        .

        I encourage you to read this short post that does a great job explaining to parents what sexualization is. It is tangible and empirical, and has nothing at all to do with my healthy sexuality. http://blog.pigtailpals.com/2010/08/sexualization-in-140-or-less/

        It sounds like you have set very healthy boundaries for your daugthers to safely experiment and play at home, but at the same time respect their right to a girlhood and to age at an appropriate pace.

    • Susie R says:

      Precisely!

      I don’t *like* the suits. I won’t put them on my kid. That’s not the part that is offensive and disgusting. The little girl holding the starfish down on her lower abdomen with her mouth all puckered up and caked in lipstick? That’s what’s offensive and disgusting and it distresses me that there are people who think that’s an acceptable look for a little girl.

  20. I think its great that you emailed them. I’m all for trendy, cute and fun but these just come across, inappropriate. Which is sad, because the postcards in the catalog are cute, with little girls looking like little girls and not some 20 year old club vixen. They are little girls, they should be swimming, having fun by the pool or beach or something, and not looking like I might on Halloween (cause really, what other day of the year do I dress all skanky? ;-)

    • Suzanne says:

      No, no. Those postcards are *not* cute. What and WHO are those postcards for?!?! I would be appalled to receive a postcard with little girls in swimsuits. In fact, if I were receiving such mail, I would hope that a “red flag” would be sent to some sort of police station in my county to keep an eye open.

      Never in my life have I seen a little girl pose the way some of those photos were staged, nor would I want to. It’s vile.

      • Suzanne, I think you completely mis-read Tiffani’s comment…these pics are in the catalog itself, not the postcards; she agreed that these pictures aren’t appropriate…

  21. It’s intereting to me that most (if not all) of the dissenting comments states that the writers have purchased swimwear for their children from this company. To them, I say, if you want to stick your head in the sand and pretend that these pictures are not a wholly and completely inappropriate representation and exploitation of these young girls, that’s your problem. However, do not fool yourselves for one second that your defense of this company is anything more than a huge rationalization. Only when more people stand up for our girls and their right to be valued as so much more than overly-sexualized, made-up, little dolls will they have a chance to realize their true potential as strong, intelligent, beautiful women. To that end, I thank the author of this blog post for speaking the truth so eloquently.

  22. I totally agree! As a Mom of 4 kids – 18 and 14 year old girls and 13 and 9 year old boys – and working in social work with very young children – I dont see how anyone could NOT see these as sexualized pix. These are really gross…my girls are both very trendy and cute and “hip” and very modest. My 14 year old, especially, would never be seen in any bikini and doesnt even like tankinis. I worry for her in a world where her friends wear the skimpiest of suits to the beach and the sexy clothes to school. But more than my girls – I worry about my boys. I can control what my girls wear – to a point. But I cant control what my young, impressionable boys see. I dont want my 13 year old son going to the beach and thinking thoughts about the young baby girls around him tempting him when he is at an age that is unpredictable and confusing at best. And I hate that my 9 year old son – who has far more girlfriends than guy friends anyway – is exposed to such sexualization at such a young age! Sorry to rant…but this really got me. I dont usually comment on these things…but reading some of these comments from moms who dont see the sex in these pix? How is that possible? I am offended for kids in general and specifically my boys – who may possibly get hold of this catalog somewhere and see other kids their age and younger dressing up in such costumes…we need to let our KIDS be KIDS…

    • Kim – I hear you loud and clear – our boys shouldn’t be subjected to these images any more than girls are. How sad will it be for our sons as they grow up and – consciously or not – compare their REAL female friends with the highly charged, overtly sexual, airbrushed, made up & photo shopped images of these imaginary mini sex-waifs in catalogs and magazines. It makes real life relationships very difficult to manage realistically.

  23. This is an upsetting ad campaign.

  24. It’s the heavy make up especially that causes these ads to look creepy in my opinion. Makes them look like older faces stuck on little girls bodies. Yuck. Very poor taste.

  25. Ugh. Found out about this through The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Just sent my email; here it is – if anyone would like to use it as a basis for their own and just change it up a bit, please feel free.

    Dear Ms. Soriano:

    I am writing to express my repulsion over your latest advertising photos for your swim wear line for little girls. I was informed of these ads through the Pigtail Pals blog. I am the mother of a young girl with another child on the way. The little girls in your photographs have been dressed up in a sexualized way that is completely inappropriate. They remind me of actual photos I have seen of young girls who have been kidnapped for use as sex slaves; they are often dressed up in this manner by their madames or pimps in order to attract customers. I will certainly never buy any of your product line while you continue to contribute to the problem of young girls’ sexualization. It is disgusting and very, very sad. “Trendy” (as you say in your release) or not, if you are creating products for children then you have a moral responsibility for them that is much higher than the bottom line of the almighty dollar. Please, please remove these ads and make age-appropriate ads that honor little girls. Until you do, be assured that I will continue to campaign against your brand.

    Thank you for your time.

  26. Just wrote the company an email too. Absolutely repulsive, indeed.

  27. Kelly McPartlin says:

    I also wrote an e-mail to Gilt Groupe, who was selling and promoting this swimwear line today. Horrifying.

  28. This is truly repulsive. It’s disturbing that a female business owner would choose to sexualize young girls in this way. Thank you for bringing public attention to it and telling Ms. Soriano exactly why she should stop marketing her products like this.

  29. To the women who wrote that sex is in the dirty eye of the beholder: wise up! The statistics on pedophilia are staggering and those are the reported cases! If you’re NOT thinking about children, especially girls, looking over-sexed as in these ads, then you’re probably an enabler or an idiot. Apparently you are unaware of human trafficking, too…. These ads are definitely sexy and inappropriate. Wake up, ladies. Sex SHOULD be in YOUR minds a little more, like it definitely is in MEN. Perhaps you’re all robots who believe little girls should be sexy because you’re not.

  30. All I know is this: I would never allow anyone to pose and photograph my daughter in that manner. Gut check says: NO! Simple as that.

    Whether the suits are appropriate or not, to each their own.

    But, to pose and make up these barely not tots as if they were a BOND girl coming out of the ocean? Definitely sexy. Definitely wrong.

  31. The bad press has spread to Facebook. Watch your sales drop now.

  32. Ok, I just went to the website, and the first thing I noticed was it was Brazilian. Automatically, I understand why this company would not view its photos as deliberately provocative. In Brazil, I believe that there has been less of a view of women as merely sexual objects and therefore the sexual nature of a person is not seen as provocative, as if that is all she is.

    Because of the differences in our cultural histories and backgrounds, what is provocative here may not be there. What is blatantly sexual here, may be the norm there, so much so that it has lost its power to be sexual. Although, to counter that last argument, if they weren’t provocative photos, they wouldn’t be using them…….. :)

    That being said, I still would not want my daughter to appear in those pictures bottomline. (Also there were some very cute, modest suits as well….)

    • Jenny –
      The owner is Brazilian. The company is run out of Miami, FL. There were cute, modest suits. But my post wasn’t about the suits (many of which I found wildly inappropriate for children). My post was about the sexualization of her marketing, and the components of sexualization are universal.

      Geography and respect to culture aside, this company is operating very much in the wrong, and it contributes to the general cultural of objectified and sexualized girls we see everywhere. Brazil has an enormous sex and child traffiking problem, so I question how indeed they view and value their women.

      • Oh Melissa, I am not disagreeing with you, but knowing the Brazilian component it makes total sense, whether appropriate or not. :)

        Like I said, bottom line, I wouldn’t want my daughter to be in those pictures!

        Like I said, my daughter doesn’t need to be a BOND girl …. :-D

  33. I’m not sure how anyone could look at these pictures and not find them disturbing. The dead eyes, pouty lips, body positioning–very unsettling, to say the least. I recently read a transcript of The Codes of Gender, a film by the Media Education Foundation. It states that sexualized images of females have become normalized and notes that: “…when we see [such poses] utilized by men [we] are jarred by our reaction.”

    If these pictures had been of boys, maybe the shock would make the doubters who responded here realize how unacceptable the images are. I am not encouraging the sexualization of boys as some kind of counterbalance or suggesting that boys actually be photographed like this, but I think that such images of girls have (tragically) become so commonplace that the majority of people fail to find them shocking. Maybe even raising the question,”Would you want to see a boy photographed this way?” would get people thinking about what’s wrong with these images.

    • Excellent, and heartbreaking, analysis.

      For those who don’t know her, Crystal Smith is the author of Achilles Effect: What Pop Culture is Teaching Young Boys about Masculinity. It is a superb read, especially for those with sons.

  34. Crystal,

    I love the point you brought up about how deeply we’re socialized to expect “provocative poses” from girls & women. It would be fascinating to have little boys stand the same way and see how jarring that is. And if it’s jarring, then maybe we could move onto the bigger question of why we would accept these kids of images as “cute” or “acceptable” for our girls. Thanks for broadening the discussion!

    Ann

    • Exactly! Why are these poses considered cute for girls when we all know they would be considered creepy and perverted if it were boys in front of the camera.

  35. Annette says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one noticing this disturbing and…I WILL call it…pornographic imagery of young girls. I am actually, quite liberal, by most standards. I believe that once a young woman is old enough to work a job and buy her own clothes, she can wear whatever she wants…but…until such age, and we’re talking 16 here…there is NO WAY she is dressing up like that but I cringe at the thought that she would have to even see a picture implying that she could or should or that any child should be swept out of her youth on a billboard or circular…JUST to try to sell a few more swimsuits. Show me some wholesome young girls, playing beach ball with one pieces on…and I will support THAT company. Let them be children, please, until their bodies tell them they have grown up? Our culture will have plenty of time to over sexualize them later on, when they try to walk down the street or feed their baby in public. Why not work the “Thank heaven for little girls” market and cater to the ones PAYING for the clothes, rather than what a group of 10 year olds may have told you in a few market research meetings, when they were looking at mag shots of JayLo and Beyonce? How about bringing reality back to the fold and not catering to unhealthy fantasy for the mighty child-porn buck?

  36. this is just horrific. every time i read something like this my first reaction is it can’t be true, but it is. so sad.

  37. Suzanne says:

    I want to know what kind of money and fame-hungry “parent” lets his/her child pose for pictures like this in the first place. You can blame the marketing company (and I certainly do), but equal blame must fall on parents who are so desperate to have a “famous” child that they will be willing to be nothing better than pimps. They are selling their childrens’ sexuality for some sort of bragging right.

    The company would have been able to do nothing but advertise with cartoons wearing their swimsuits (or have underdeveloped young women pose in their swimwear as many other companies do when faced with this sort of dilemma–something I also disdain) if every parent who walked onto the set of “tryouts” put a foot down. Yet, somehow, they didn’t. There is a market for everything because people allow it to be that way. I think it’s repulsive–I just wish EVERYBODY thought that way.

  38. Hey Jen says:

    Okay, I will admit here that I’ve never even heard of this name brand of clothing. I will also admit that I find the swim wear in and of itself to be cute, HOWEVER, the photos and sexualization of these girls turns my stomach.

    I have a 12 year old who BEGS me to let her wear a string bikini. I think that it is inappropriate at her age. It’s too “old” for her. This she doesn’t understand because “all” of her friends have them. Well good for her friends. I’m not their parents. I won’t even let my girls wear clothing with sayings on the butt. It’s ridiculous that an 8 year old should wear something with the word JUICY on the butt. Seriously, wtf is that about? That just screams “Oh Hey Pedophile, look at me!” ;(

    At any rate, I don’t agree with Toddlers and Tiaras and I sure don’t agree with these photos.

  39. Something that I am humoured about is that I’d bet the farm Melissa is WAAAAY more liberal about sex – for adults – than Charlene and the other dissenters are. I bet the women here who see sexualized mini-models are way more open about sex, sex education, etc. But not for children. Just a thought. Hey Melissa and Charlene, do you plan on talking to your children about sex when they are old enough? Will you supply them with condoms and birth control? I know where my money lies…

  40. cherie bourgoin says:

    i totally agree , they are posing these girls like jon bonet ramsey and look at where that poor little girl is now :(

  41. Becky Bordon says:

    Who in their right mind could look at these beautiful bathingsuits and their models who look sooo cute and lower it to porn!! Who are the sick ones? This is art to me. The designs are so cute and artistic. They also fit beautifully. My daughter growing up worn them and my grandchildren wear them. WHO IS BEHIND THIS IS MY THOUGHT. Someone TRYING very hard to drive sales down. But I guess all great artists like Andy Worhl had critics. SUBMARINES ARE BEAUTIFUL SUITS THAT FIT GREAT. The only ones needing help are the women writing these ridiculous comments.

    • Claudia Castoriano says:

      I agree with you completely!!! For sure the ones sick in their minds are the ones who see this pictures as sexual and provocative.

  42. I showed my husband the first two pictures and his response was “OK…so you have Katy Perry and Lady Gaga in miniature… How’s that age appropriate again?”
    Yeah, he pretty much nailed it.

    • Rebekah says:

      My husband thought the photos were awful. His first response was, “Can you say SLUT?” He even said borderline pornographic. My husband is also not the type to scrutinize ads or swim wear, so it was refreshing to hear that response. :)

      • Yes! I quite often use my husband as a benchmark of whether I’m overreacting to something. But when he’s horrified by these pictures, I think that says a lot.

  43. As a Pre school professional this ad makes me sick. Why do we need to put little girls in positions that if they were 21 could be almost soft porn? Were are the parents at shoots like this????

  44. Rebekah says:

    I’ve felt compelled to write a comment all day, and yet am struggling to find the right words so bear with me please… From my perspective, I don’t think everyone is denying that the quality is good, or maybe to some extent even those most disgusted by the photographs might find the suits “cute”. I’ll admit it… I think certain bikinis on little girls are adorable. However, I will NEVER buy one for my daughter or my SD (modest tankini yes, perhaps even a shorter yet modest 2 piece, yes) – however a string bikini, or anything that is supposed to mimic a skimpy adult woman’s bathing suit… not so much. I have made this choice, not out of fear of pedophiles, and not because I want to shelter my children. I made this choice because children are no longer allowed to be children. It is not natural to ask our girls to pose with puckered lips, pounds of makeup, and ridiculous wigs in order to sell… well… anything. I can’t help but think of a photo Melissa posted on the FB page of her daughter and son playing in the mud, and the VERY negative response she received about her exploiting her own child. Hopefully the majority of those who read this know what I’m talking about. This photo was her child in a NATURAL state, playing innocently, and enjoying life. She was allowed to be a child – she wasn’t dressed up to mimic an adult, she wasn’t posed provocatively… she was just being a child. So, I find it astounding that these pictures for Submarine are not scrutinized closer by more parents. Personally, I’m not asking anyone to hate the line of swimwear, and I’m not saying that it is wrong to appreciate good quality. I am however saying that myself, along with many other parents, and Melissa spend the time writing blogs, sharing links we find concerning, etc. because issues such as the sexualization of girls/children IS important to us. And, while a simple bathing suit ad seems harmless and something that a lot of us are wasting our time critiquing, writing about, and so on, it is one of the many small battles we fight every day to give our girls/children a normal childhood. One where they don’t question if they are too fat, or if they are pretty enough. One where a 5 year old child doesn’t think she’s ugly and needs makeup, or a 7 year old asking for a push-up bikini because she wants to look like she has breasts. I believe we want our girls to feel confident in/with their bodies and capabilities instead of striving to impress boys with their attire and appearance. Growing up I’ve had friends who only felt any self-worth if a boy/guy/man found them sexually attractive. I struggle now raising a child who I believe is hypersexual and will do anything for the attention of boys (including dropping trou at their request). Unfortunately (in some ways) our children ARE impressionable – they are curious as well they should be. But, I truly believe it is our duty as parents to encourage them to be children, and to act like children and not adults, even if that means contacting retailers and advertisers about what we consider to be inappropriate advertisements depicting our young girls as sexual objects in order to sell clothing and bathing suits. I hope this made sense.

    • emandink says:

      @Rebekah – your comment makes total sense and pretty much sums up how I feel. At $90-plus a pop, I certainly hope these suits are well made and “fit well”, but that is so beyond the point.

      To everyone who feels like they need to defend their decision to buy these suits for their daughters: You can buy whatever you want for your daughters. Clearly plenty of people think it’s totally adorable to dress their children like tiny adult women, because you can buy these for $99 or something similar, but not as well made I presume, for $9 at any big box store. No one is attacking you or calling you a bad parent for making that decision. But I really hope you can get past your defensiveness to think about what Melissa and the rest of us are trying to do here – which is something we happen to think is vitally important: Defending our – and your and everyone’s – daughters’ right to a childhood in which they can be kids for as long as they want to on their own terms.

      • THIS. “Defending our – and your and everyone’s – daughters’ right to a childhood in which they can be kids for as long as they want to on their own terms.”

  45. Look, my father was a pedophile. My sister and I grew up with that. And one of the countless sick and twisted things that he did was steal our teen girl magazines like Seventeen and YM and our GIRL’S CLOTHES CATALOGS and masturbate to them. Do we really want to make little girls look sexier, so when sick bastards like my father pick up these catalogs they get even more pleasure out of it? I’m really hoping you say no. Children should be allowed to hold on to their childhood as long as possible. And if you want to believe that what I went through is a rarity, check your statistics.

    -As many as one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood.

    -In as many as 93 percent of child sexual cases, the child knows the person that commits the abuse.

    -88% of cases of sexual abuse are never reported to the authorities, so it’s nearly impossible to know the full extent of child sexual abuse

    Source: http://www.stopitnow.org/child_sexual_abuse_fact_sheet

    • Sarah Ann,
      Thank you for sharing your story with us. While certainly pedophiles are a great concern, it all feeds into the larger problem which is our society’s complicity in teaching our daughters their worth comes from their sex and degree of sexiness, which they must exhibit at all times but not act upon.

      Images like this absolutley slide the bar of taboo, and to men like your father, their becomes no end and no beginning to female sexuality, and every body is fair play.

    • As a survivor of child sexual abuse, thank you for sharing your experiences. I do not know if it was easy for you, as things get when time rolls on, but I appreciate your truth.

  46. I just want to say that I;m young (28) and possibly some of the mother’s that think this is ok are probably my age or younger. We all grew up accustomed to sexualization of everything- look at 80s music videos from early MTV. They don’t see it because to them it’s normal…I see what you are getting at and agree, though…they are too provocative, and I’m a laid back hippy!

  47. To everyone commenting on how well made the suits are, how great they fit,and you have been buying the brand for years for your child: Please – step back for a moment and look at the little girl in the platinum wig and the dangling Peace Sign earrings – not the swim suit she is wearing – look at HER. Who do you suppose she is giving the ‘come hither’ look too? If she were acting that way around your son, would you invite her to sit under your beach umbrella or would you send her tarty little behind back down the beach to her parent? Do you honestly believe the PHOTO, not the suits, are age appropriate? Is this how little girls act on the beach? I think not. I hope not.

  48. I was looking at the website when my teenaged son walked into the room. I asked him what he thought of the picture I was looking at and his instant response was “Sl*t!”. He walked closer to the screen and suddenly cried out “EEWW!!! That’s just wrong!” as he realized that he was actually looking at a little girl.

    Sure, some people might try to tell us that we are reading the implied sexuality in these pictures. But then apparently so are a bunch of men and boys. In itself this would be a concern! But face facts, these images are DELIBERATELY meant to be sexy.

    The very few people here who are trying to defend the images, come across like they are personally invested in this subject. Friends with the designer perhaps? Mum of a model perhaps?

    These images are simply disgusting. The style in which they have been taken has very little to do with the actual product for sale.

    • Such an interesting comment. I said on twitter to a colleague earlier today that I’d like to poll a large number of 4th-12th grade boys and see what their opinions are when little girls are used this way.

  49. These photos are so disturbing and whoever mentioned the Toddlers and Tiaras reference was right on the mark. I would never allow my daughter to wear anything like this; she wears either a one-piece or a two-piece made of shorts and t shirt to the swimming pool. It’s unconscionable for mothers to compromise their daughters’ (and other people’s daughters’ and sons’) childhoods that way.

  50. lis stafford says:

    These swim suits would be miniscule on adults, never mind kids !

  51. I am bothered by some of the arguments FOR this line of clothing. The fact that it is “UPSCALE” does not make it any less sexual in nature. The fact that Old Navy and Submarine are different markets does not excuse the sexualization of these girls. You are implying that due to socioeconomic ( and hence the implication of the parents worth/intelligence?)status that some children get to be sexualized while other are not. Just as another example, please look at how the girl is posed for submarine suits for this boutique http://www.littlefashionsboutique.com/submarine.html

    Hip, trendy, upscale, and runway does NOT EQUAL a little girl acting like she has something to offer, seriously. Children are not supposed to be mini-adults, there is a reason for the distinction and differences.

    • *applause*

      • Wild applause on call to action; not sure I can muster ‘kind and graceful’ as much as ‘cease and desist’ from parental outcry universally.

        Again, this is a PUBLIC HEALTH PROBLEM when corporations continue to ‘sell off’ childhood sans CSR/accountability missing the damage/harm in favor of profits/trendy glamorama…See UK precedent for what will happen if the USA reaches regulatory Howard Beale mode.

    • Well stated!!!!!!

    • Gabrielle says:

      bet the child molesters are LOVING these.

    • Standing Ovation! Right on!!!

      • Charlene says:

        Wow, really? I see everything BUT sex. Maybe you people should get treated. Sex is not on my mind when I look at these pictures. How ridiculous can you women be???

        • It isn’t about what you see – it’s about what girls younger and younger are exposed to as being cool and attractive. If girls this young are already looking ahead by pursing their lips or standing with one hip forward, with makeup and wigs and so on, then girls even younger will see the pictures and form their growing opinion from it. Teens don’t just appear anorexic, or desperate, or anything else, overnight. It starts subtly, and builds over a child’s formative years.

        • Bryan Hopkins says:

          OK, so NO sex – what DO you see ? Good for your children ?

  52. I think that when the dissenting comments are simply, “Get a life,” then that is a pretty weak argument. People caring about the over-sexualization of little girls don’t have a life and should spend their time on something else? And just what are you dissenting commenters doing here – somehow your arguments show that you *do* “have a life” moreso than those who are disturbed by this growing trend of making little girls look sexy? You think that “trendy” and “upscale” are important to the image of girls? I totally agree with what Kevin said: trendy=sexy. Also, his comments regarding birth control and how this is a much larger cultural issue were spot-on. Everything in our society encourages youth toward sex, with the emphasis on “safe sex.” The only safe sex is to teach your children all the consequences of early sex with multiple people and how they don’t need to use sex as a way to feel validated about themselves.

  53. I think this is crazy!
    Submarine is an awesome line for girls, great quality and amazing design.
    I have two daughters that wear nothing but submarine swim suits and trust me they don’t
    look sexy at all! They look super cute and trendy.
    All this sexuality thing is in your heads! Girls have mothers as role models so don’t blame it to submarine, please….

    • Well, I think you are crazy. Your perception of cute and trendy may be considered sexy to another individual, specifically to I don’t know say pedophiles. There is a plethora of professional research that backs the notion that little girls are being sexualized in our society. People like you are encouraging this disgusting idea, and further supporting it through profitable means. Yes little girls are mothers as role models, but their mothers aren’t the only influences in their lives, duh. Media, peers, among other factors greatly influence and impact young girls thoughts, actions, feelings, etc.

      Please go read a book and learn more about child development. Thanks.

      • Correction: “Yes little girls HAVE mothers as role models, but their mothers aren’t the only influences in their lives, duh.”

        • martina says:

          Psychological studies have found peer pressure is the greatest form of influence. So it is better to have bad parents in a great neighbourhood/school than vice versa. And if your children see others their age they identify with wear stuff like that, to them that will mean they have to do so to belong. As a parent one can say no but is unable to explain to a 10 year old who is not a formed personality as yet why saying no is the right thing. You cat try all you want but the need to identify with your friends is all that matters at that age. I remember what used to be important to me when I was looking for boyfriends at 14,15,16…
          1. he listens to the same music as me
          2. he dresses the way I like

          In my late thirties those things don’t matter but one needs to get to thirty to know that and if you start wearing and presenting yourself like this at 10…what hope is there?

    • Anna-Catherine says:

      As someone who has a grandniece who is a gorgeous little girl in her own right, she doesn’t need to see this kind of fake advertising. I’m sure if her father saw this ad he would freak out and never buy anything from this line either. For that matter her mother would never ever offer her this line of clothing. Her mom is just as beautiful as she is. Sexuality does not have a place until a person is old enough to know what they themselves are about. What does this tell the child?

      If I were a casting director, I would never hire a child who had these photos in her portfolio, it would tell me what kind of parent I was dealing with.

    • Susy,
      Respectfully, I find your response very disheartening. First off, the issue isn’t whether Submarine offers high quality garments or great design. The issue is that their marketing campaign makes children out to look like pin-up girls. When a designer opts to present a 5 year-old child as a 20 year-old woman, that is a problem. You’re really short selling your own girls by celebrating how ‘cute’ and ‘trendy’ they look in their suits. Yes, my vanity is such that I like my own 3 year-old to wear cute clothes. But when she’s on the beach, I don’t prioritize a ‘trendy look.’ Instead I prioritize her ability to play, swim, run, jump, raise hell, and be comfortable. ‘Trendy’ shouldn’t be in the same sentence with my child. There’s time enough for that when she’s 16.

      It’s attitudes like yours that lead our girls down a slippery slope of sexualization, discrimination, pigeon-holing, limitation, and worse. If it’s not sexual, then what message IS an advertisement featuring a child in a wig, hip askance, earrings dangling, lollipop in hand, pouty mouth engaged supposed to be sending?

      • “I don’t prioritize a ‘trendy look.’ Instead I prioritize her ability to play, swim, run, jump, raise hell, and be comfortable. ‘Trendy’ shouldn’t be in the same sentence with my child.”

        Hear hear, well said!

        Let’s not teach our children to prioritise their appearance over their happiness, or price tag over play time. If parents choose this path as an example, it is inevitably the kind of lie the child will grow up to believe.

        • Michelle says:

          I so agree, when I was a child in the 70’s clothes were designed for comfort, warmth/coolness and practicality so that we COULD be children and play. Now it’s almost impossible to clothe your children in this way, I have 4 children and apart from plain fleecy clothing it’s very difficult to find affordable clothing for children that is comfortable and practical. I dont want them wearing $50 jeans, $20 tshirt and $50 shoes when they are outside climbing trees, making mudpies, building cubbies, etc, etc. WHAT HAPPENED TO CHILDHOOD?????

    • What is most at issue here is the way the girls are portrayed in the ad campaign for the suits, not the suits themselves. I’m also a fan of many products in the Submarine line. I’m a mother of two girls, one 3 1/2 and one 7 months old, and I would put either of them in some of Submarine’s suits. However, I would not choose one of the teeny bikinis as I, personally, prefer more modesty and coverage. But the suits themselves don’t offend me. The way-too-grown up, sexualized staging of the little girls in the photos does. While some taking up the cause here are also offended by the small bikinis, all are troubled by the style of the pictures. Ad rightly so.

    • Wake up says:

      I’m afraid you’re naive beyond belief. If you can’t see the sexualization in these photographs I can only assume that you’re so used to sexualized images that you’ve accepted them as normal.

    • Susy,
      However “cute” and “trendy” they may look, Bikinis were originally designed to be a SEXY swimsuit. Period. Show as much skin as possible, accentuate the bust and hips. Why should a pre-pubescent girl need to accentuate these things? I’m not a prude, but it bothers me that the vast percentage of swimwear available to my five-year-old are bikinis. WHY should a FIVE-year-old be made to look like a smaller version of a sexy woman????!!!

    • Bryan Hopkins says:

      OK, so NO sex – what DO you see ? Good for your children ?
      Do they wear wigs to the beach like the submarine kids ?

  54. Michael Reed says:

    I’m not sorry for saying this but the people who came up with these ads must be closet pedophiles. The ONLY people who like these ads in my opinion are pedophiles. The makers of these ads need professional help.

    • Totally agree with you Michael!!

      • This is just like a Playboy mag to the perves …WHY WHY WHY …And when some one grabes them up will ya wonder why ????

        • Exactly! We see it ALL the time on the news…little girl went missing here, or there. Pitiful.

        • I know this seems really bad to you guys but this isn’t why little kids go missing. And tell the swimsuit companies boys get raped and molested and ignored by you people so much theyre forced.to wear nothing but a pair of shorts. No wonder your priests have been molesting your sons and you all looked the other way. How about you put the guilty evil priests in jail finally instead of just making the catholic church pay money cause thats all you care about.
          oh and toddlers and tiaras are more of a sex scandel than anything.

  55. AMEN! These little girl looks 30! ..It’s a shame how advertisements, and society in general, personify girls to look a certain way..”sexy”..instead of just being natural and true to themselves. And people wonder why young girls and teens have so many self-esteem, self-concept, and self-image issues!! Many parents don’t help the situation..”its a new day in age” or “times have changed”..yea well, that doesn’t mean you have to conform and treat your child like they’re adults…treat them like the LITTLE KIDS they are!

  56. Rebecca says:

    To all the women who think that we mothers who disagree with this form of marketing and think it is disgusting have our minds on sex…. of course we do. I know I do… and not in a perverted way either, but in the way that says how can I keep my little girl little?! How can I keep my daughter from becoming a sex object for others or to think of herself that way? How can I raise my daughter to respect herself? I was raised in a conservative Christian family and I will raise my children the same way. When I was 13 and was allowed to get my very first bikini (which I was only allowed to wear in our own pool and not at the beach) it covered more of me than these bikini’s that these little girls are wearing. I’m not saying that the fit or durability is not great. But what is this teaching our little girls and like others have said, our boys. Even now I dress more modestly than thse girls. I RESPECT MYSELF!!!!!! Society is making it normal to sexualize and objectify young women… and it has become the norm. Little girls have breasts or know more about sex than I (a married woman) do, and are having sex! Who’s fault is that? I blame the media, but I also blame the parents who allow their children to “jump off the bridge” if you will… “Well those children wear it, I’ll let mine too”, because standing up for something is just not done anymore. Morals have gone out the window and so have parents judgement on what is appropriate for little children. How can you teach your child to respect themselves for who they are and what they believe in if you are allowing them to show what they’ve got and if they don’t got it, wear heavy make-up and rediculous wigs and to pose like they do got it. “Don’t respect yourself for who you are and what you can do, but instead get your respect from how others look at you and if it’s sexy then you’ve done well?!?!” Is this really what we want to teach our daughters?

  57. PedoBear says:

    PEDOBEAR APPROVES OF THIS CLOTHING LINE!

  58. Stephanie says:

    I just sent off the following email to Deborah at the email address you provided, Melissa:

    Dear Ms. Soriano:

    I am writing to you today as both a woman and concerned mother.

    As a woman I feel that it is high time that we stand up and put a stop to companies and the media using women as nothing more than sexual beings/playthings. It is time that women stand up and demand that companies and the media show some respect for all the amazing qualities that women have completely apart from our sexuality! To use sexuality to sell items is a complete copout.

    However, with that said, one step worse than selling based simply on sexuality is using children in sexually provocative poses, dress, etc. to sell one’s goods!

    As a mother I am absolutely sickened by how quickly companies, like your own, jump to posing children in sexually provocative poses and sending the message that it is okay to view children as sex items–which IS what sexually provocative poses are for!

    Selling swimwear for children should include images showing children participating in childish activities that they’d use your product for–splashing in the water, swimming, playing in the sand, running, skipping, jumping, etc.–not as overly sexualized mini adults (which they are not!) This approach would not detract, in any way, from the quality of your product but instead would send a message that your suits are for children and for their childish activities and that while the girls are in them they are able to look great and participate in their summer-fun activities!

    I am asking that you remove the photos of the young children in sexual poses and instead turn to using pictures of children being–playful–children!

    It’s time we let our kids be kids!

    Sincerely,
    Stephanie

  59. Ms Kitty says:

    …. with pictures like these, no wonder children are being abducted and sexually abused.

    I think the parents should go to jail, they are suppose to PROTECT children, not set them up for sexual predators.

    These children look like grown woman who are dressing up as children… they are being posed as sexual objects.

  60. I not only think that the swimwear is not approtate in the way it is advertized, but also the way that they are making young girls grow up so fast with the push up bras being sold for the young girls. my they are just getting to know there bodies with out putting them in such exploited clothing. I am a grandmother and my granddaughter wears things like this cause it makes her look grown up. children dont know how to grow up anymore with the clothing they are offered lets let the children go from 5-18 slowly. but not now days it is let the children go from developing to grown up to look sexual. no wonder there are so many girls being molested and kidnapped. you as the maker and advertizers dont alow them to grow up and act their ages. i agree with stephanie and have the pictures with the girls hair wet and playing in the sand on the beach. let the kids be kids. sincelerly, sue

  61. Stephanie C says:

    To people who don’t think young girls are being sexualized I have one thing to say watch toddlers and tiaras. When your 5 year old is made up to look 30 I think there is a problem. Last year when I tried to find my son’s sister a bathing suit it took me a week and 5 different stores to find a one piece suit. She was 6!! and all I could find for her size were bikinis and not only that but in my opinion they were very skimpy bikinis. I think this is a growing trend and if people don’t start speaking up it is only going to get worse.

  62. I think you guys have nothing to do. This mentality is what is bringing this country down. I dont see anything that suggests me sexualization. – bikini for kids means a kid in a bikini. What do you want to see there? You guys have a very perverted mind to see the world like this.
    Shame on you!

    • Mamasaurus says:

      What do we want to see? Little girls who are SMILING & happily playing like *children* in clothing that is practical for summer activities … not little girls making sultry Porn-esque expressions, fakely make up in skimpy lil things that will fall when they run into the ocean or dive off the low board!!!!! We want to see little girls allowed to simply be young happy playful children without trying to make boys/men intersted in being sexually attracted to their skin. Hello?!

    • How can you sit here and say “shame on you” when it is picture like this that got a 5 year old little girl molested. How can you say “shame on you” when a 14 year old girl has to drop out of school to take care of a baby she had because she was raped and does not believe in abortion. You are the one that should be ashamed of being blind to the truth. Because of the twisted greedy minds of others like you, our children continue to suffer everyday at the hands of sexual predators. You are no better than one of them.

    • Are you a Parent?

  63. As a mother of a young girl I find this not only offensive but scary. Our children should NEVER be exploited in this manner EVER! People sit here and forget to think about the fact that sick people in this world take pictures like these and pervert them into some sick twisted thought and our daughters pay the price for other peoples stupidity. Children should be sheltered from that, NOT used to make the problem worse. I would ask the the maker of these adds stops to think for a minute about there own children and what they would do if some sexual predator took advantage of their child. Please for the sake of our children stop this MADDNESS!

  64. That’s disgusting!! Let a child be a child and take that disgusting makeup and wig and wipe that face of them little kids! What kind of life do you think these exploited children are going to have!! Quit trying to make money off of the children, ya sick ba**tards!

  65. How many subscriptions of this go straight to the pedophile population?
    Disturbing, really disturbing.

  66. Jessica C says:

    While I, as a parent have chosen to not let my daughter wear a bikini until she is at least 15 (she is currently 3) I feel like people are over reacting. These children were hired as models, the photos are tasteful and could be worse, and that if anyone sees anything dirty in it then that’s in their own heads and may want to seek help.

    These photos are artistically depicting her clothing line. I think people are over looking that she is from Brazil, where skimpy bikinis such as the Brazilian bikini (not wax) were derived from and that the fashion in Brazil is a bit freer. If you don’t like her designs, or how she has chosen to portray her models then the solution is simple: do not buy her clothing.

    • Jessica…
      You are not really thinking that 15 is a good age to let your child wear a bikini with 15 yr old boys hanging around?? Were you ever 15? Do you remember the hormonal flood happening then in you and the boys? A confusing enough time as it is let alone putting sexy bathing suits on our teens (or prepubescent girls) and parading them around the eyes of over sexed boys (or pedophiles)… THINK OF YOUR GIRL, MOM !!

      Plus… being in Brazil where the social standards are “freer” doesn’t make the photos or skimpy styles any better for little girls … JUST SAYING…

  67. Wow, this is the most ridiculous thing ever. And Americans really wonder why they have the most teen/child pregnancies in the universe. While all the other developed/developing countries are focused on the success of their future generation and country…America is busy advertising sex left and right whether in the media or advertising for children and then blaming the parents for having a problem with it and defending themselves by saying it’s our responsibility. And actually it’s not all their fault because they’re actually in it for the money and sometimes money can diminish all morals obviously…….the problem is the parents who are buying these clothes for their children. I don’t understand any parent, grandparent, or any family members that have any legit amount of IQ could take a look at a poster of this company’s ad..and then turn around get in line at the register. What are these people thinking? I feel sorry for the little girl models because it just truly shows how much their parents care about money and other things over the health and well being of their little daughters…enough to exploit them in this manner. My heart goes out to these girls and hope they are lucky enough in their lives to meet some truly inspiring role models…since their parents obviously failed.

    • and P.S. if the parents are responsible for what our children wear or do or think….how do we fight up against companies like this one…when they’re using all the power they have to make sex…the norm? like it’s okay….it’s supposed to be that way….regardless of how old you are…if you’re a girl you should look sexy, act sexy, pose sexy, because that’s how girls are supposed to be like. WTF? We are not objects walking around the earth for the pleasure of men …we are our own people and women are just as powerful as men these days. UGHHHH. I hope this company gets sued, someway..somehow.

  68. Jessica C says:

    Also, as a proactive parent that is concerned, why not sit down with your children and show them these photos? Ask them what they think about it and have a freaking discussion with them about why you feel it is inappropriate and also bring up stranger danger and how to be safe.

    Problem solved, and you actually get to *gasp* interact with your child.

    • I guarantee you that many of us have or will do exactly that. But that’s not enough. We have to fight the sexualization of our children. We have to open other parents’ eyes so that they can fight it in their own homes as well. Thank goodness that Melissa takes the time to help us do that! Not only has she extrapolated on issues in a way that makes it easier for me to talk about them with other parents, she has provided invaluable “talking points” for me to open up these topics with my children. How many of her blog posts have you read?

      It’s interesting how you assume that people who don’t want to see children viewed as sex objects must not interact with their children.

  69. This is very, very repulsive and disturbing. I don’t mind a smiling girl, hair a mess, ice cream stains on her face, wearing some swim suit or towel. But this is going a little too far. Unnatural.

  70. MSinnott says:

    An irresponsible sort of soft paedo porn exploitation of a child model. It is loathesome. I dread to think what sort of market you are ‘catering ‘ to.

  71. Victoria says:

    I sincerely hope that whoever approved this ad for this company is not a parent…& if they are that they begin parenting classes immediately. This sort of exploitation of young children should be illegal…I concider it child pornography. I am a health care professional in womens health and see the after math of this sort of behavior all to often; and its appauling. I sincerely hope this company pulls these ads and gets some appropriate ads.

  72. Reprehensible. Playing dress up is one thing for little girls, but to be mocked up as overly-sexualized adults caters to pedophiles. Even the wig and maekup styles resonate with a more trashy/slutty quality than a tasteful adult quality, not to mention the poses.

  73. Ok, for starters, you MUST get a life. I have shopped at Submarine from when I was little, until today for gifts for people. I happen to LOVE the way Deborah advertises her merchandise, but that’s me. You may not like the way she advertises, but in reality, it is none of your business. She does not affect your life in any way, shape, or form. There are so much more important things in life… so if you are looking to help out in the world, check the NY times and donate some money. Many people need it.
    Sincerely,
    Shelly

    • Shelly –
      Confused. Should I donate money to the NY Times, or check the Times to see who needs money? Do you need a subscription to the Times?

      Deborah’s business and her smutty marketing DO affect me, as the sexualization of children is an issue of social justice, and I work every day to educate parents and ignorants as to how severe and pervasive the problem is in our culture. People like Deborah contribute directly to it.

      Wait, do you want to come over on Sunday and read the Times with me? Do you want cinnamon rolls?

    • I’m running out right now to find out where I can get this “life” you speak of so that I can stop focusing on such mundane issues as protecting my children from being turned into sex objects! I can’t imagine how I could have been so misguided!

  74. First off, thank you to Melissa and the Pigtail Pals who started this extremely important discussion. What stands out to me after reading all the comments is that many people are focusing on the idea that these photos and marketing campaigns are drawing out the pedophiles. Another group of readers are furiously demanding we ‘get a life’ and worry about important issues.

    Let’s not forget that there is a middle ground between inciting pedophiles and supporting trendy toddlers. I worry less about the pedophiles and more about my daughter’s self esteem. I worry that she will see so much of this crap that she will weigh her worth in sexual conquests, boyfriends, dress size, and cup size. I worry that she will think women like Katy Perry and Rihanna are career and lifestyle role models. I worry that she will think Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton are worth emulating. I worry that her spirit will be broken, her value will be overlooked, and her body disrespected. I worry that I am fighting a battle that so many other parents seem to be completely unaware of. Parents – really LOOK at this stuff! Think about it. Pick at the thread, unravel it, follow it, and really open your eyes to what is going on with our girls. There are a lot of damaging images out there for our girls to absorb – it’s NOT harmless. Check some out here: http://notaboutbaby.blogspot.com/2011/04/not-so-funny-old-mama-sexy-babies.html

    • This. THIS. Brilliant. Thank you.

    • Jennifer E. says:

      Penny, I see your point. I must say however, Submarine is not to blame for this. If you have a problem with Katy Perry, Lindsay Lohan, etc. that is something completely different and you have to take that up with Hollywood and America itself, because that is American culture. Submarine is simply using clever advertising techniques that are known to work in the US. I am sure that if these images were shown in Iraq, these images would definitely be considered pornography, so the real question is if these images bother you (and by you, I mean anyone on this site) so much, then maybe you should consider an alternative lifestyle, OUTSIDE of the US because this is American culture and nothing anyone on this blog can say will change that.

      • As an American, I think we CAN and SHOULD strive to be better for our youth than pimping them out for the bottom dollar. I, for one, am willing to put up a fight against the ‘culture’ of sexualization so present to try to turn the tide. My girls are worth that. Do you not think yours are also worthy?

  75. I sent a message to them via their online contact form:

    I wanted to express my concerns with the way your company has young girls posing for your advertisement of swimwear. These are children, yet they have been made to look sultry, with pouty faces and vapid eyes, wearing wigs and makeup, and frankly, they look as if they are extremely sexualized. As a mother to three girls, this is exactly what I want to combat: the idea that girls must be “sexy” from a very young age. It harms their self esteem and especially their bodies as they grow up thinking they must meet some kind of sexual standard. I will be doing my best to avoid exposing my three girls to your website as well as any other clothing lines which treat children in this way. I ask that you please consider children and do what is right (and not what is “trendy” or what makes you the most money) and change the way you advertise. I would much rather see girls in modest swimsuits with their real hair, playing on a real beach, rather than these girls whose facial expressions resemble porn models and who are posing provocatively with hands on their hips and such rather than doing what the products are inteded to do: swimming! If I was going to spend this much on a girls’ swimsuit, I would much rather support a company such as this one: http://www.chichanellabella.com/main.php** since they are able to portray their models as being true little kids while still creating a fashionable product.

    Please view our girls as deserving of respect and deserving of a childhood!

    **Do check this website out… adorable, modest, vintage swimsuits for girls. Still way out of my price range, ha ha! But certainly a better place to support than Submarine.

  76. Becky Bordon says:

    I’M SORRY BUT WHERE IS MY COMMENT AND FEELINGS REGARDING ALL THIS. ARE ONLY THE COMMENTS AGREEING WITH PIGTAILS POSTED?

    • HELLO BECKY –
      I’M SORRY BUT I DO NOT SEE ANY OTHER COMMENTS FROM YOU TO PUBLISH. EVERY COMMENT THAT HAS COME IN FOR THIS POST HAS BEEN PUBLISHED, WHETHER OR NOT THEY AGREE WITH ME. IN FACT, I THINK THE NUMBER OF COMMENTS TELLING ME TO GET A LIFE OR THAT I AM THE PERV IS UP TO 9.

      IF YOU’D LIKE TO RE-SUBMIT YOUR COMMENT, AND IT IS NOT VULGAR OR OFFENSIVE, IT WILL BE PUBLISHED.

      • Hahaha… love the sense of humor involved in writing this response! ;)

        Are all these people who are responding with “Get a life!” the same person? A person who has some interest in the swimsuit company in question, perhaps, like maybe an employee? If not, there are sure a lot of people who come up with “Get a life” as their only response rather than using reasoned facts and rational discussion to debate their opposing viewpoint.

        • Erin –
          We’ve checked the IP addresses of some of these very similar comments coming in. They are not coming from the same computer, but they sure do sound alike!

          As for the “Get a life” stuff, the most common comebacks/slams in this line of work are as follows (all of which I find amusing and only encourages me to work harder): 1a) You must be the perverted one, is in a tie with 1b) You need something better to do with your time 2) You are a pearl-clutching prude 3) You are a pearl-clutching prude that needs to get laid 4) This is in your head and you are the one with the problem, little girls just like to dress up

  77. GET A LIFE PEOPLE, FIND A HOBBY….YOU SHOULD NOT MAKE UNTRUE COMMENTS, LOVE THIS LINE !!!

  78. I took a look at some additional pictures for this swimwear line. And I side fully with those calling for a stop to these images. For those of you claiming these are just “trendy” images let me provide you with a brief historical lesson of image of sexuality:
    Lets go WAAAY back in time, lets say oh 500 and some years ago. In the Renaissance the “Venus” pose of the seductress with her armpit exposed with her hand behind her head was established. Venus=the goddess of sexual seduction. Her classic pose is repeated in many famous paintings over the centuries, including Olympia by Manet. Olympia is in the painting is a prostitute, and in that classic arm up, hand behind the head arm pit exposed pose.
    So historically and artistically this is an established pose of sexuality.
    This is not “cute” or “trendy” and I don’t see why they need to put a 7 year old model in a swimsuit in this pose. Or how they can call it child appropriate, or say its not overly sexualized.
    And yes there is currently a pose like this for this swim wear line

  79. Grumpydad says:

    Doesn’t appear to be any dads leaving thoughts, I’ll give you mine
    It’s sad that no matter how sick is the garbage some people sell, there will always be fools that will buy it. Unfortunately as long as there is demand, this stuff will sell and will be marketed.

    My little girl wears the swimming trunks her older brother’s grown out of, end of story. Anything else would just be ridiculous.

  80. Sasha B. says:

    I would just like to add a comment here. WHO IS REALLY THE ONE SEXUALIZING THE KIDS HERE? Adding images of Playboy and Maxim and placing it next to an innocent child shows something on your part. Quite perverted of you to go so far as to look on those sites.. But it seems your into that ;) Hugh Heffner is looking for a new bride, keep hitting up the site, you might get lucky :)

  81. Goodness gracious!! These girls don’t even have little buds of breasts, and they’re wearing such gendered and sexualized clothing?? It makes me sick to my stomach… As someone who was sexually abused as a little girl, I find these images severely disturbing and even encouraging to pedophiles.

    • Jennifer E. says:

      Although it is really sad that you were abused as a child and I am very sorry, I think the REAL problem is the pedophiles themselves, not girls having fun with blue wigs and makeup. The company is not to blame in any way for any sexual attacks or be responsible for your generalization that this clothing is too risque for children.

  82. Jennifer E. says:

    Are you guys simply perverted? These girls are not victims of any type of child abuse. They are simply having fun and selling bathing suits to the public (which clearly is not you). They are marketing large, suburban areas like Miami, New York, and LA. If you asked anyone in these areas, I’m sure they would not have a problem with this. The real problem is that you people are so sheltered that you will turn a blue wig and some fake eyelashes into child pornography. Instead of bashing such a great bathing suit line, I propose you ladies go and deal with real problems. Men who are really raping young girls or the KKK. Spend your time where it is needed, not bashing young girls who simply are having fun and not trying to provoke any sense of sexual images or pornography. As a mother whose children wear and LOVE these suits, I am completely behind this marketing. When my kids saw these ads they loved it and agreed that it reminded them of the Bratz dolls and Katy Perry. These girls are not in any way representing anything close to Maxim or Playboy. Please put your efforts somewhere where they are needed, NOT bashing such a great and innocent line.

    • Hey Jen –
      If the girls are having so much fun, why is not a single one of them smiling? My kids smile when they “play dress up”. As soon as I finish up with Submarine, I turn my focus on the KKK. Clearly, you’ve got this problem solved.

    • Why do girls “not trying to provoke any sense of sexual images or pornography” need pouty lips, make up, and wigs? Last time I checked, little girls wear none of the above to the beach/lake/pool!

    • Sasha B. says:

      Jen, I couldnt agree more. PS. Models arent usually smiling, their natural looks without smiling is what sets them apart from the ordinary child and makes them a model.
      I guess these people are from the Midwest or somewhere not like Miami or NY. It may help to understand that this is a Brazilian children’s line- the cut and style is different, thats what sets it apart from your ordinary fully-covered speedo one piece. If you do not allow your children to wear bikinis, that is totally your choice and no one will criticize you for it. Yet, scrutinizing others for allowing their children to do so=close-minded. I can’t really waste my time commenting on this blog because some of us have real jobs and children to attend to, so sitting around and posting 30 comments is not necessarily part of my habituated routine. All the best.

      • Charlene says:

        AGREED!!! MID WEST PEOPLE!!!! THEY JUST DON’T GET IT! VERY CLOSE MINDED. THEY SHOULDNT WEAR SUBMARINE. THEY SHOULD GO TO K- MART!!! THEY’RE TASTELESS ANYWAY!!

  83. REPULSIVE. Yes, exactly, Melissa. They say it is “suitable” for young girls?! Makes me wonder what young girls are doing in Brazil!

    • Charlene says:

      Nothing as bad as what happens in Las Vegas, so take it easy with the Brazil thing!!!

      • I totally agree. Turning little girls into sex objects is wrong no matter where it happens. Actually, turning ANYONE into a sex object is wrong. Period. Must have struck a nerve here. I guess I’m wrong that the nationality of the owner means anything. It sure is no excuse for her reprehensible ad campaign!

  84. You have to love the repeat comments…..it is funny that those who like the brand are full of nothing but crappy, desperate insults. In a way it seems like they see it to but can wrap their brains around the fact that some companies exploit children…..or they are feeling to guilty to try and use actual debate.

    There is something wrong here.

  85. T. Edwards says:

    “urging you people to put some pressure on the cavalier attitude displayed by the people behind “Child Model Magazine”. Their Facebook page here ‘https://www.facebook.com/pages/Child-Model-Magazine/105415206158558′ has endless pics of little girls vamped up in makeup etc. Their attitude is uneducated and argumentative for their “contest” based page.

  86. Charlene says:

    Hahahah!!! This makes me laugh!!! You people are so ridiculous!!!! Get a life!!!!

    • Charlene –
      I’ve had to delete one of your comments because of the profanity you used. You are welcome to, as you clearly do, disagree with us. But you also need to keep it classy. If you submit another comment of that nature your IP address will be blocked from this blog.

      • Charlene says:

        Gosh, my apologies. I’ll keep it as classy as your blog (putting Playboy/ Maxim pictures near children.) Perhaps you want to give people the idea of PLAYKIDS? With naked children?? VERY CLASSY. Congratulations.

  87. I’m not a prude, I’m not sheltered, and I’m not a mom. However, Submarine’s marketing pictures still gross me out. Anyone who doesn’t see the sexualization in the company’s ad photos needs to have their head examined. Yeah, the suits are way cute. So what? The little girls are still posing provocatively. They look like pedophile candy. EW!!!

  88. Charlene says:

    Hey Melissa,
    It is time for you to seek counseling in the medical form for your sick thoughts of such an adorable and loved collection.
    Freedom of speech is one thing but you should always get the real facts first. You have opened up your own can of worms and you deserve them to be bloodsuckers on your behalf for causing lies and troubles that in this world of today, are not needed. You are an insult to humanity.

    • Charlene, you continue to amaze me.

      But before I get eaten alive by all the bloodsucking worms, in the event I am not lying and did get the real facts first, I strongly encourage you to read this 2007 report from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls: http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx.

      • Charlene says:

        I have read your link, still doesn’t make sense. Does not fall under these pictures. Honestly, people have different taste. We cannot deny that, but to slam these pictures along with the line is what makes me angry. If you’re saying that the line and pictures are “edgy” that’s one thing. This line is not like the other swimwear lines where they go for the “cute”. Submarine is more on the “fun/ funky” side and obviously you people don’t get it. There are many things out there that I personally dislike but I just don’t create a blog to try to destroy their image which is what this whole thing feels like. I truly believe that this whole matter is very much outta hand and I believe that YOU Melissa is desperately looking for media attention.

        • Charlene –
          To be clear, I never once ‘slammed’ the line or its apparel. My entire commentary has been and remains to be focused on the marketing and the photos on the website. It is not a matter of taste. It is a matter of imposing age-inappropriate sexaulized ideals onto a child who would not naturally come by those actions or thoughts. I have been running my company and blog for over two years without media attention, that is not what I am seeking. I reached out to Deborah Soriano, CEO of your beloved Submarine Swimwear. She rudely replied to me and blew me off. As a family advocate on matters of children, marketing, and sexualization, I have a large community of parents and other concerned adults who look to me to fight this kind of marketing.

          I do ‘get’ that Submarine Kids wants to be “fun/funky”. I believe they can do that without the sexploitation of child models. If the company and their suits really are that great, they wouldn’t need these kind of images to help them sell their garments.

  89. Charlene says:

    Melissa, you are just pathetic!!! Your close minded point of view is understood. No worries. BUT other people don’t see what you and your Midwest followers see. If the girl had ice cream all over her face and/or chest I would MORE than agree with you! But she’s holding a FAKE ice cream. The other picture is 60’s inspired and she’s doing a “peace” sign. Another picture she’s holding a star fish. What’s wrong with that????
    Maybe, she’s not smiling because that was the look? Not because she’s unhappy like your “fans” said. She’s a professional model, so I’m pretty sure she did not do anything that she wasn’t OK with.
    Did you get a chance to see other Submarine pictures? Where girls are NOT wearing make up and they’re smiling??? Are they unhappy too??? Being forced to do sexual poses??? Please!!! Why don’t you worry about real things in life?? So many things happening in this world and you are using up people’s time for “sexual looking” (in your heads only) pictures? Give Submarine the benefit of the doubt. I’m pretty sure the company was NOT going for SEXUAL POSES. If they really wanted to get “sexual” they would have used a very different scenario, don’t you think???

    • Charlene,

      I’m the father of a cute 4 year old who I know is going to be breaking hearts when she’s older as I fend off the boys (blonde hair, blue eyes, and cute as a button but then maybe Daddy is biased).

      The photos on the Submarine Kids site are bad taste and inappropriate for the target age. It’s amazing to see your opinion that these are perfectly fine pictures for kids. “60’s inspired” might be the theme here, but the message is clear. Body language, especially as it’s used to sell products, is very expressive, suggestive, and powerful. And with great power comes great responsibility. Sultry eyes through the (heavy) use of eye shadow, forward thrusting hips, twisted torsos, pursed lips. These are techniques used by photographers to say absolutely the wrong thing for little girls.

      How about a reality check? Here’s SwimOutlet.com and their girls swimline: http://www.swimoutlet.com/Girls_Swimwear_s/947.htm. The format is a pleasant picture in the header and the swimsuits, the product, that they’re selling. Not a picture of a 10 year old Lady Gaga making me uncomfortable. Maybe SwimOutlet is too small for you? Okay, how about The Gap. Here’s their swimwear for girls: http://www.gap.com/browse/category.do?cid=14127&kwid=1&sem=false. No lipstick, no pouty lips, no fake silver wigs, no suggestive posing. Just pictures of, wait for it, the product I want to buy. Even doing a simple Google search for “kids swimwear” yields pages and pages of pictures of little boys and girls standing or playing and having fun in the sun with their outfits. Nothing immoral about these pictures and nothing I would be ashamed of viewing in public.

      I’m sure your reaction might be “oh but they’re boring and Submarine just wants to have fun with their product to make it stand out”. Fine, then let the product stand on its own. Trendy? Sure, but not at the expense of exploitation of small girls. Exploitation, the act of using something in an unjust manner. There is no justification here to exploit these girls for products. There are morality lines you simply do not cross. Someone earlier said that the pictures reminded her of the Bratz dolls and Katy Perry. Yes, yes they do and again, there’s something wrong with us if we have to resort to drawing parallels with someone who in 2011 won FHM Magazines “Sexiest Woman in the World” award. Yeah, that’s great to associate that with pre-teen swimwear.

      I’m reminded of the innapropriate video going around last year of a bunch of young (teen and pre-teen) girls on stage dressed up and dancing Moulin Rouge style. Do you think that’s innocent and appropriate like this ad campaign is?

      Apparently 3 million YouTube viewers didn’t and the video was removed.

      Apparently the marketers at Submarine think sex sells but has no issue associating that strategy with children.

      Apparently most of the comments left here also think it’s done in bad taste along with (currently) 3,109 people that liked this blog post via Facebook.

      Apparently you’re the only one who stands with the Submarine organization in thinking it’s okay to exploit our children like this.

      • Susie D. says:

        Bill…. don’t you think you’re exagerating???? Seriously?

        • Susie D.

          Like Melissa said, this isn’t about childrens sexuality, it’s a about sexualization in marketing, a choice that Submarine made and a poor one in most peoples opinions.

          This is not about the quality of their product but the message they’re sending by choosing their advertising campaign approach.

          As a father and someone with the right to free speech, I’m just voicing my opinion about how I feel about it. You can choose to agree or disagree with my points as you see fit.

  90. I think you people are a little mistaken. I KNOW this line!!! I have spoken to the owner several times and I happen to LOVE Submarine. Great quality, great looks, nothing like you people are saying!!! I am a mother and I would NEVER in my life put my daughter thru something that would support children’s sexuality. That is a little far, don’t you think? It makes me very sad to see what your website is doing.
    TRUST ME PEOPLE – SUBMARINE IS NOT ABOUT THAT. THEY’RE ABOUT KIDS HAVING FUN, BEING KIDS AND AWESOME QUALITY!!!!

    • Loryn –
      We not talking about the suits or children’s sexuality. We’re talking about sexualization in marketing. Not the same thing. If Submarine Kids is about “kids having fun, being kids” their marketing certainly does not reflect that. I have tried to speak to the owner, but both Deborah and Charlene’s emails to me have been rude, dismissing, profane, and harassing. Makes for difficult conversation.

  91. Susie D. says:

    This is 100% not true. I have known Submarine since my 19 year old daughter was 3!! She has been wearing their swimwear for a long time and I wish I could still buy it for her! You people are crazy!!!! There’s NOTHING sexual about Submarine swimsuits!!! Go find out more info… this is NUTS!!!

    • Susie –
      My issue isn’t with the swimsuit, but rather the way they are marketed. I have all the info on need on the issue of sexualization. I can’t gather more info from Submarine Kids because both Deborah and Charlene’s emails to me have been rude, dismissing, profane, and harassing.

      • Susie D. says:

        Sorry to hear that Melissa. I’m sure there was no need for rudeness. But, I’m sure they’re a little “consumed” by this whole thing. I know Deborah and I know she only means well. She’s gone above and beyond for my kid. My daughter has rocked her swimwear for years. So… let’s try to take it easy on it. I KNOW she does NOT mean any harm to kids. Deborah is a wonderful mother. I happen to have met her two kids. One serves the army and the other one is in college. Great kids. I just don’t think is fair. The stuff that’s being said about her and her line. She’s an extremely hard worker and has helped so many people. She’s done so many children’s charity works – and not just to “promote” her line, but truly outof her heart. So it makes me sad to see all these bad comments on her. She’s truly an amazing woman.

        • Susie –
          I have not said anything bad about Deborah. I called her to task on her marketing. That’s business, not personal. Unlike the personal attacks I myself have had to publically endure from her employee and vendors, I have not said anything personal about her, her mothering skills, or what kind of person she may be. I professionally and directly called her on her marketing that depicts young girls in sexually suggestive poses and heavy make up — the images are sexualized images of children. That was the extent of my commentary, both in my public blog and in my emails to her. And in both my public blog and in my private emails to her, I offer to her to explain the issue to her and help her to better craft marketing that doesn’t come across to thousands and thousands and thousands of people as inappropriate. My invitation to her stands that if she would like to communicate, I am happy to do so. But I will not stand for exploited and sexualized girls.

  92. Hey guys…
    I’m just amazed by the way this is going. I have never heard of this website pig tail thing… but, truly…. what’s up with you????? Seriously!!! “GET A LIFE” doesn’t even start with it…. come on… I’ve seen some ridiculous comments, but this??? Go take a look at how children REALLY live and are exploited in other countries and then go back to Submarine’s website. You’ll see a huge difference!!!! So many horrible things happening in the world lately and you all are soooooooo worried about Subamrine’s pictures???? Come on… get a grip!!! Let the kids rock their swimwear!!! Stop being so square and old fashioned!!! Good God!!!!

    • I’m about as un-square as it gets and I can respect your opinion here. Normally, I’d be on your side, but this looks like child pornography. I mean, it’s uncanny. By that I mean you could shuffle this in with a stack of the stuff and never know it was for a swimsuit advert. This is how children are exploited in OUR country. In the shadow of our sexually repressed, fear and dogma based American culture, the plight of this exploit is often glossed over when you consider the sweeping, frightening majority of it’s members attend church more times per week than they have orgasms. But the fact remains that sexual exploitation and abuses through religious indoctrination are the american equivalent to child slave labor in east asia or the armies of children strapped with assault weapons fighting men’s wars in Africa. It is not as noticeably horrific to us because we see it every day and we choose to ignore it because it is common.

  93. Dannyter says:

    Hey guys…
    with all due respect, please stop insulting this wonderful line. I belive this is an older floks website, am I right? I don’t think this is sexual at all.
    Maybe just another generation. That’s OK, you all can have your opinion. My grandparents think like that too. I respect it. But truly, nowadays, thinks have changed.

    • Dannyter –
      I think it is comical that you assume we are senior citizens. This website is primarily used by parents who are in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. I am 33 years old.

      I don’t find the images sexual at all. I find them sexualized. Not the same thing, my friend.

  94. Huh. Yeah, a little creepy. Not as creepy as those toddler beauty pageants, but yeah, I can see where it’s a little too…

  95. I’m looking at this from several points. First as a mother of 4. My daughters are 15 and 7. My 15 year old does some part time modeling and it is nothing like what is shown here. I sign a model release and I approve of all hair, make-up and wardrobe that she wears for pictures. She is 15 and she looks 15.

    [IMG]http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b355/aloegirl/IMG_0087.jpg[/IMG]

    My 7 year old does not model at all, and if she did, she certainly would not be made to look like the girls in the Submarine photos.

    Instead of giving my opinion on the matter, I’m going to give you facts.
    I live in suburbs just north of Atlanta. Fact #1 – What most people don’t know is that this area is #1 in the nation for child sex trafficking. Men are buying and selling little girls with images like this on Craigs list around here everyday. The epidemic has gotten so bad that the local churches and community refer to it as “the Candy Shop” and have even made a movie about it.
    Fact #2 – If found in an adult man’s private home, some of the images portrayed by Submarine swimwear would be considered child exploitation and he would be arrested. Label them “trendy, or upscale” all you want. They should be illegal, and NO model release should make it otherwise.

    ** It should be noted that John’s Creek Ga, has one of the highest per capita incomes in the country. It is very “Trend & Upscale” to live here with all the pedos and sex traffickers.

    The Candy Shop Trailer from Whitestone Motion Pictures on Vimeo.

  96. Some of these photos bare a striking resemblance to child pornography. Show these to any law enforcement officer you know and ask their opinion. If you found this in a pedophile’s home, would you consider it child pornography? You need only to watch Todlers In Tiarras to know that children are being forced-sexualized, not just in media and advertisements, but even by their own parents. Certainly all children develop into adults and possess some degree of burgeoning sexuality in their adolescence, and I’ll even go so far as to say some develop sooner than others. I should know, I developed at nine years old when my neighbor took me in his basement, tied me up and f*cked me. I’ve been a sexual being ever since. That doesn’t make it acceptable for companies to exploit and sexualize children for monetary gain.

  97. Thanks for posting this. I agree that this ad campaign is unacceptable, and I blogged about it here: http://www.everythingbeautifulinitstime.com/2011/07/hall-of-shame-submarines-ad-campaign.html

  98. Awful. It *should* be illegal.

  99. My best friend is in doubt that he is doing a good job raising his two teenage children on his own. Their mother has not been in their lives for years, and sometimes he feels as if he’s too hard on them when he has to punish them.

  100. Melissa, I completely agree with you on this and I think one good way of stopping these illicit act is to name and shame these organizations in public.

    The government might also need to set up a watchdog overseeing every adverts before they appear on our screen.

    Kids learn by what they see and what they hear. We should really not allow them to be subjected to these type of ad campaigns.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] fabulous Pigtail Pals. Melissa succinctly summed up the issues I had with the swimwear site in a wonderfully worded letter she wrote to the president of the [...]

  2. [...] I came across a post by Melissa on how “Sexualization Shouldn’t Sell Swimsuits” – the post was about a Brazilian Swimwear company for girls creating a questionably [...]

  3. [...] Melissa Wardy (and others who take the time to call out childhood sexualization and sexual objectification): Here’s a fun game to play while reading your many comments and [...]

  4. [...] Because in less than three years, she is apparently supposed to show up at the beach looking like this.  She has, it’s safe to say, some way to go.  She doesn’t even own a wig and her [...]

  5. [...] of sexploitation of kids to sell swimsuits? (must read media by PigtailPals about lead visual [...]

  6. [...] is a fan letter to Melissa Atkins Wardy of Pigtail Pals. Her blog on June 23  calling out sexualized images of girls used by Submarine Kids, a maker of [...]

  7. [...] PR spin games that take advantage of children or exploit young people. She has written about the sexploitation of children to sell swimsuits, Rhianna’s revenge fantasy videos, and Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood’s [...]

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