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Thongs for kids a bad idea


Would you want your fourth-grade daughter wearing thong underwear?

At least one well-known clothing distributor believes there are parents among us who think that is a good idea.

Parents and people with common sense nationwide reacted with outrage last week when it was learned that Abercrombie and Fitch is selling thong underwear for girls in sizes 10 to 16, meaning that they will fit most girls of those ages and some younger.

In case you don’t know what a thong is, it’s a garment which is worn like briefs or panties but has no covering for the gluteus maximus. A person wears a thong to expose his or her tush and to appear titillating.

And for adults, that’s fine. But what message is a 10-year-old girl getting when her parents buy thong underwear for her? Especially ones that have “wink wink” and “eye candy” printed on them?

“It's cute and fun and sweet,” Hampton Carney, spokesman for the New Albany, Ohio-based company, told the Associated Press.

Actually, it is an overt attempt to market a sexually oriented product to pre-teen girls, many of whom are already overly inundated with images of sexuality in the mass media. As sad as it is to admit to ourselves, a substantial percentage of 10-year-old girls in our culture probably already know what a thong is. After all, parents had to explain to their questioning children at least some of the details of why Monica Lewinsky was in the news on a daily basis a few years back, and why Bill Clinton was in trouble over it.

Wouldn’t most girls ask their parents what the “wink wink” and “eye candy” references mean, if they didn’t already know?

Children have a limited time to be children, to be able to live without having to make adult decisions or deal with adult situations. As we grow older, we look back on those days in our own lives fondly, and parents like to give their own kids the gift of having that time for as long as possible. Of course, most kids are in a hurry to grow up, so the irresistible force usually meets the immovable object.

There may never have been a time in modern American history in which there were more societal forces at work nudging children toward a premature adulthood. These days, schoolchildren deal with the possibility that someone may shoot them or one of their friends at school. They deal with the fact that we are at war with terrorists who successfully attacked us and killed thousands of Americans on our mainland. They are bombarded with images, advertising and music that make it clear that being a sexual being is where it’s at.

Of course, nobody needs to tell teens that sexuality exists, because they become well aware of it by default around puberty. But we certainly don’t need to make suggestive thong underwear available to 10-year-old girls. Give them that time of pre-pubescent innocence.

If consumers refuse to buy the product, the problem may disappear. Some will claim that the size 10 children’s thong could be a good fashion accessory since it would get rid of panty lines. That would be easier to accept if the items didn’t say “wink wink” and “eye candy.”

The truth is that there is no reason that anyone wears a thong other than to be more sexually appealing, and that is not something that 10-year-old girls should be worrying about. If your daughter asks for the “eye candy” thong, please do her a favor and just say no. Any parent with common sense knows that he or she shouldn’t be buying what Abercrombie and Fitch is trying to sell.

This column was written May 26, 2002, and published in several print publications across the country.

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