Buh-bye girlhood, hello trampy ‘tweendom!

Back-to-school shopping is in full swing -- so is selling sex to preteens.

Topics: Teenagers, Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

It’s that exciting time of year when adolescent girls across the nation go in search of the essentials for starting off the school year prepared and ready to learn as a hot new ‘tween: pink, padded bras, T-shirts with slogans declaring their total lack of smarts (“I Left My Brain in My Locker”) and, perhaps, a Juicy Couture gym bag made especially for prepubescents, announcing “Juicy and Happy.”

So reports Slate’s Emily Yoffe from the back-to-school shopping battlefield. Yoffe braved the mall with her 11-year-old daughter and discovered that “scanty panties for girls are standard” and no more are the days when girls would stuff their bras with tissue paper — now Limited Too (which targets girls ages 7-12) has a line of “padded, underwire push-up bras for girls with nothing of their own to pad or push up.” ‘Tweens are expected to account for $13 billion in clothing sales this year, and retailers are none too proud to resort to selling sex to the girls in this desirable demographic.

This isn’t a new trend, of course. Abercrombie & Fitch stirred up quite a storm when it targeted young girls with a line of thongs with coquettish catchphrases. But flash forward a few years, and it’s more remarkable to find a major clothing company that isn’t targeting ‘tweens with flirtatious, peek-a-boo panties. Back in my preteen days — just over a decade ago — I’m not sure I even knew what a thong was.



There is a middle ground for those wary of joining the Bratz pack but creeped out by modesty campaigns like Pure Fashion. Amid the trash, Yoffe was able to find a few items that were “trendy but not trampy.” Naturally, mother and daughter don’t always agree on what’s trendy and, of course, ‘tweens will be ‘tweens; when Yoffe held up a pair of modest pants from Talbots Kids, her daughter responded: “Mom, I’m 11! I’m not Harriet Miers!” (You gotta love sassy Washingtonian ‘tweens.)

Back-to-school shopping has and always will be a battle — it’s kids’ job to push the limits of age-appropriate dress and it’s parents’ job to try to reasonably enforce them. But, parents, be warned: Your preteens have reinforcements.

Tracy Clark-Flory

Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon. Follow @tracyclarkflory on Twitter and Facebook.

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