Abercrombie & Fitch, bowing to a torrent of criticism, has decided against marketing push-up bikini tops to girls as young as 7.
"We've re-categorized the Ashley swimsuit as padded," according to a statement posted Monday on the Abercrombie Kids Facebook page. "We agree with those who say it is best 'suited' for girls age 12 and older."
The decision came roughly a week after the website Sociological Images highlighted the provocative pre-pubescent tops as "another example of the sexualization of young girls."
Noting that Abercrombie Kids' target audience is age 7-14, and the average age of puberty is 12, site founder Lisa Wade asked, "at what age should girls start trying to enhance their cleavage?"
Babble, a popular parenting blog, echoed the widely held consensus: "Playing at sexy is an inevitable and important part of growing up. But there’s a difference between exploring these ideas on your own and having them sold to you in a children’s catalog.
"Right now, somewhere in the world, a girl is shopping at Abercrombie Kids and getting the message that her breasts might need a little help," wrote the Babble blogger. "Why not start now, with a push up bikini made special for you?"
Despite the apparent concession, the push up tops are still being sold to pre-pubescent girls, observed the Columbus Dispatch.
The "Ashley" bikini top is available on the company's website for girls 4 feet 8 inches tall -- the average height of a 10-year-old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This isn’t the first time Abercrombie has been accused of marketing sex to children. In 2002 the clothier was criticized for offering children’s-size thong underwear containing phrases like "eye candy" and "wink wink."
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