Waitress weigh-ins, lingerie for kids and abuse couture

All the news that's likely to induce vomiting, all in one place!

Published September 12, 2006 6:35PM (EDT)

Some days there is just so much repulsive news that it would be, well, criminally depressing to separate it into three separate entries. So for everyone's vomitous convenience, I present the three grossest stories of the day, in no particular order.

The first item is technically not a "today" story. In fact, Page Rockwell mentioned it briefly in Friday's "What Else We're Reading." But have you seen these Bratz dolls and their provocative underwear sets? These little pink and purple numbers include padded "bralettes" to better enhance your 6-year-old's cleavage. According to a piece in Saturday's Australian Herald Sun, these sets are for girls who are 6 and 7 years old. That's kindergarten, first grade, second grade, folks. And don't let the diminutive "bralette" fool you. These are brassieres. For Broadsheet readers who may not have experience with this: Girls that age do not typically wear bras. At all. Because they do not have breasts. Because they are children.

A spokeswoman from Bratz distributor Funtastic told the Herald Sun that the notion that the bras might sexualize children was silly. "The idea of the padding is for girls to be discreet as they develop ... It is more about hiding what you have got than showing it off." A Target spokesperson likewise argued that the padded bras "give girls modesty and style as they go through development changes." The message is that everyone should calm down: No one's trying to make your little girls voluptuous by selling them padded bras. They're just trying to make them feel shame about their bodies six years before puberty!

While rummaging around the Web for more information on the "bralettes," I found this blog entry that also has photos of some Bratz dolls, Phoebe "Sugar" and Roxxi "Spice," dressed only in cropped fur and leather jackets and their undergarments. The dolls have baby milk bottles chained to their ankles. Because, like so many imps named "Roxxi," they just love to hang out in their lacy underthings and furs and drink milk from their sippy cups.

Onward and upward to our next uplifting tale: today's report in the New York Post about two waitresses suing the pub that employed them for sexual harassment. Their particular harassment is what makes this story stand out. The women claim that they were regularly weighed by their bosses, who also kept track of their poundage on a spreadsheet and on a Web site that supposedly tracked and compared the weights of the female serving staffs of other New York City eateries. One of the waitresses, Kristen McRedmond, told the Post that she was summoned into the manager's office, where she was told she "needed to get on the scale." When she resisted, she claims that a manager tried to pick her up and put her on the scale while another man looked on. McRedmond and her fellow complainant allege that only female workers were asked to weigh in, and that managers would comment when the female wait staff ordered fatty fried food for their own dinners. The women's lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold, told the Post, "I've been doing sexual-harassment law for 20 years, and this has to be the most egregious case of degradation to women that I have ever seen."

And last but by no means least on the barfometer is this fashion spread, singled out by Gawker yesterday, from Italian Vogue. Called "State of Emergency," it's a series of photographs by Steven Meisel in which, in a moving tribute to a post-9/11 world, scantily clad women in vertiginous heels and various states of undress are subjected to a stunning array of physical brutalities at the hands of big policemen. Some of the highlights include a woman being forced to the ground by officers, her dress pulled up and her legs spread with a cop's knee between them; a model who has been shoved against a car, her dress also hiked to a height at which her lower ass is visible, her legs forcibly separated; a woman in a red cocktail dress, prone on a dirty sidewalk with a big boot stomping her neck. And then there's the woman who's being strip-searched in an airport, standing in a lacy black bra.

You can just about imagine all these stories getting rolled into one arresting photo spread: a 6-year-old girl clad only in her bralette being forced at gunpoint to stand on a scale.

Enjoy your Fashion Week!

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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