As if girls don’t get enough negative messaging about their appearance — through TV shows, movies, advertising, parents, and peers — it appears that promotional copy for a certain bra for kids (as if its mere existence were not enough) has now been added to that list.
“Ideal as a first bra with removable filling!” reads the label of a girls’ bra from the French company DIM. Not only that, it notes the bra also “hides small imperfections.”
— Florence Braud (@Babeth_AS) September 2, 2016
The wording caught the attention of Florence Braud, mom to a 12-year-old daughter in France, who posted a photo of the product, along with the hashtag “#We’reReallyDoneWithThisShit,” to Twitter on Friday.
“It saddened me to see that, so soon, she was already suffering the threats [of] femininity,” Braud told BuzzFeed, adding that the wording was an “injunction of femininity.” Many others agreed, as Braud’s post was retweeted nearly 400 times and inspired comments including “how awful!” and “So according to [DIM], 12-year-old girls have ‘imperfections’ that should be smoothed out?”
A DIM spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in a statement, “When we said imperfections, we meant clothing and nonphysiological imperfections. This is to erase imperfections [of] materials — folds, overlays, etc. — to make the product smooth and harmonious under clothing.”
But according to Barbara Greenberg, a child and teen psychologist in Connecticut, that’s mincing words. “Regardless of what it meant, it’s ambiguous enough to be dangerous,” she tells Yahoo Style. “First bras should be exciting, and soft and comfortable, and girls should feel so good about wearing them. Anything that suggests imperfections or something wrong with the body is eventually going to be a trigger for body issues — not only for the child but for the mother as well. Language is very, very important.”
Kids’ bras and their marketing have regularly sparked concerns. In May, British company Matalan was called out for sexualizing young girls after marketing a black plunge bra to teens, with some critics noting that the sizes were actually small enough to fit girls as young as 8. Several years ago, another French company, Jours Aprés Lunes, introduced what was essentially a line of kids’ lingerie, inspiring folks to call it “disturbing” and “unsettling.” There’s also been much discussion over sexy Pink underwear from Victoria’s Secret and whether or not it’s appropriate for tweens.
The answer to all this has come from Yellowberry, a company selling bras geared specifically to girls’ needs. “I was 17 years old when I took my younger sister shopping to buy her very first bras,” notes founder Megan Grassell on the Yellowberry website. “We scoured the mall to find a product that she was excited about, but I ended up being completely appalled at all of the bra options that were not only available for my little sister but also marketed to her and girls her age. Padding, push-up features, and underwire galore … I could not believe that these were the bras that girls were supposed to wear!” She adds: “I saw something wrong with that entire experience. In fact, it was a day that I could not stop thinking about. Why wasn’t there just a cute, colorful, and comfortable bra for Mary Margaret to fit her and her body, not the body that she was ‘supposed’ to have? The answer was that there simply wasn’t one. That is when I realized that if no one else was going to make bras specifically for girls, then I was going to find a way to do it myself.”
Note to Florence Braud: The bras ship internationally.