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Love/Relationship Columnist Author: Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC - Love/Relationship Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:10:41 PM

What 7 Year Old Needs a Stuffed Bikini Top?

By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC - Love/Relationship Columnist -
Apr 26, 2010 - 7:03:00 AM

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( - It was mentioned in the New York Times and the Houston Chronicle a story out of London reporting that a major clothing retailer had withdrawn a children’s bathing suit line. The reason? The swimwear line was promoting a bikini for 7 year olds with a padded bra. The retail store acted immediately after the article was published calling the bikini the “paedo” (pedophile) bikini. That sounds reasonable to me because I cannot imagine any other population appreciating a stuffed bikini top for a 7 year old. Nor can I imagine any reason you should ever stuff any bikini top for any age child. They are children; they are not supposed to have big breasts. I am wondering what the clothing industry who designed this swim suit were thinking. Perhaps it will help if I clarify where the average girl of 7 years is emotionally, so they can understand how messed up their thinking was.

What the typical 7 year old girl may look like emotionally (according to about six child psychology book authors including Ruth Schmidt Neven):

They want to be perfect at this age and may seem more self critical than they were at 5 or 6 years.
They worry more and their self confidence is more fragile.
They have an increased tendency to complain. They are learning more and more about negotiation.
They understand clearly the difference between right and wrong.
They need punishment rarely because they understand the rules and usually follow them.
They are much better at losing games than they were at 5 or 6 years and they are less likely to blame.
They began to feel a stronger connection with shame and guilt.
Tips for parents.

Watch what you say about your own body in front of your children (try not to talk badly about your body).
Dads, be careful what you say about your daughter’s body. She is easily influenced by you, and tries to please you. If you say anything negatively these “tapes” are difficult to remove. Focus on her interests and embrace her specialness.
Watch shows with your child and help her realize how the advertisers are trying to make women fit into a perfect shape. If you keep communication open with her she will come to you when she is worried.
Encourage activity. Sports at school, or art after school, or whatever it is that she loves. Children who feel badly about themselves focus on outward appearance. Stress what is inside.

Seven year old children are playing with their friends, maybe Barbie dolls in the morning and dancing at night. They are not concerned nor should they be with their breasts and whether they are big enough. Parents, you must stop the madness. Every parent who saw this article most likely reacted similarly to how I did. Where did this come from and how do we stop it? In this case, thank God the retail store in London had enough sense to withdraw the line. But what if the next store doesn’t? What message are we sending our young girls? Please, let your children be children for as long as possible. That means dress them like children, expose them to TV shows for children, listen to music specifically for children, and appreciate this innocent time in their lives. Parents, this may require you to act like parents, dress like parents, listen to a parents’ music and watch parents’ TV programs. If you are trying to act like a “cool parent” to fit in with your child then maybe the bikini bra stuffing is for you and not your seven year old?

–Mary Jo Rapini

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is featured on TLC’s new series, Big Medicine which completed season one and two. She is also a contributing expert for Cosmopolitan magazine, Women’s Health, First, and Seventeen magazine. Mary Jo has a syndicated column (Note to Self) in the Houston Chronicle, is a Love/Relationships columnist to and “Ask Mary Jo” in Houston Family Magazine. She is an intimacy and sex counselor, and specializes in empowering relationships. She has worked with the Pelvic restorative center at Methodist Hospital since 2007.

Mary Jo is a popular speaker across the nation, with multiple repeat requests to serve as key-note speaker for national conferences. Her dynamic style is particularly engaging for those dealing with intimacy issues and relationship challenges, or those simply hanging on to unasked questions about sex in relationships. She was recently a major participant in a symposium for young girls dealing with body image and helping girls become strong women. Rapini is the author of Is God Pink? Dying to Heal and co-author of Start Talking: A Girl’s Guide for You and Your Mom about Health, Sex or Whatever. She has appeared on television programs including Montel, Fox Morning News and various Houston television and radio programs. Keep up with the latest advice at Mary Jo Rapini

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