I lived in France for a short time in my carefree younger days, and I have fond memories of their refreshing attitudes about sex (and also soft cheeses): Ne t'inquietes pas! C'est naturel! and so on. However, call it the American prude in me, but I am thoroughly creeped out by this new line of lingerie for girls ages three months and up by the French company Jours Après Lunes. Making out on a park bench or not shaving your armpits or what have you is one thing, but putting a bra on a four-year old is something else entirely.
It's OK—I'm reading Kafka.
Now I'll be the first to admit that some of the lingerie and "loungerie" (what they call their line of baby products) on the site is pretty cute. Black and white striped shorts and tank tops? So French and fetching. And it's not as if I'm arguing that young girls and women should cover themselves up and never run around in their underwear either—lounging around in your undies is what being a kid (and a 29-year-old who lives alone) is all about. There's a big difference though, between a five-year old girl in Wonder Woman underoos and a five-year old girl wearing expensive lace lingerie, styled to look like a sexually mature adult. Check out these thumbnails from the "filles" collection to see what I mean (larger versions of the images can be found here):
Who? Lolita? Sorry, never heard of her.
Considering the extensive research available on the consequences of sexualizing young girls, lingerie peddlers (and swimsuit peddlers—I'm looking at you, Abercrombie Kids) should know better. Of course, France has a reputation—most recently for the 10-year old Thylane Blondeau controversy—for hiring young girls as models, but keep in mind that this line of lingerie is being marketed to young girls (or rather, their parents) in general, not just to those who pose for Vogue.
Erving Goffman is turning over in his grave right now.
The sectioning off of body parts, the suggestive poses, the pearls and updos—these photos and this line of "loungerie" go right past cute kidswear and straight into objectification territory. Selling sexy underwear to young girls (and babies!) sends a male-gaze-directed message that I, for one, think kids should get to wait a while before they receive (or in a perfect world, wait their entire lives without receiving). Nominate me for a Prude Decree if you must, Jours Après Lunes, but I'm decreeing you a douchebag.