Alli sent us a link to a vintage ad posted at BoingBoing that reminds us, in the wake of the Abercrombie Kids push-up bikini top fiasco, that encouraging young girls to act like adult women, including wearing lingerie, isn’t a brand-new phenomenon. The ad, from 1959, offers bra and panties set for girls sizes 2-12:
Initially posted by Mitch O’Connell.
I wonder how this ad would have been perceived in 1959. Creepy? Just an example of harmless childhood mimicking of adults? How do we draw the line between the two?
Syd — April 15, 2011
Most children's clothing is modeled after adult clothing, so it makes sense that underwear would follow the same trend. It's not being marketed as sexual, and the picture gives off a very much 'playing dress up' feel, so while it's unnecessary, it's not necessarily "creepy." At least, no more so than a girl playing dress up in plastic high-heels or a fancy ladies hat. Also, they go up to size 12....while a girl wearing size 2 won't need it, there are certainly girls wearing size 12, 10, even 8 who might be ready for a training bra, so in the larger sizes, it would be functional. I remember when I was wearing about a size 12, the underwear available to me was "enormous flowy briefs in white or with cartoon characters" and "thick white sports bras." Being age 12 also, and wearing size 12 outerwear that was modeled after the same clothing that adults and teens wore, it was difficult to dress properly. Not saying I needed a crotchless thong and a push up bustier, but the same styles of more modest underwear adult women were wearing would have been an enormous help when I was required to wear uniform pants that showed panty lines like crazy and a white shirt.
Tom Megginson — April 15, 2011
Toddlers and Tiaras, anyone?
Rachel @ Last Res0rt — April 15, 2011
I don't know about the bra, but those are some serious Granny Panties going on there. I don't think there's anything sexual about THOSE, unless you're someone big on color-coded panties.
Candice — April 15, 2011
was it creepy when I dressed up in my mom's dresses and heels when I was little? I don't think so.
Jadehawk — April 15, 2011
well, that certainly takes the air out of any claims that this sort of thing is an evil post-1960's result of loose liberal morals :-p
Kelle — April 15, 2011
I think the difference here is that this is supposed to be for "dress ups" play (which has its own issues), whereas the ones from Abercrombie, and numerous other retailers, are supposed to be for regular everyday wear.
Alll — April 15, 2011
Mommie spelled like that makes me think of Joan Crawford. *shudder*
Stephen McTaggart — April 15, 2011
Not to downplay the sexualisation of children approach but it seems to me that another lens tells us that this advert is the attempted further commodification of the childhood experience. Dress up is a particular experience that should remain outside of the market. I used to dress in my dad's long tweed coat that he brought over from the cold climate of Scotland for fun and pretend to be the bogeyman with my brothers and sisters. I would hate to think that that experience was ever commodified.
Betty Fokker — April 16, 2011
I think the difference is that the bra was not padded, and NOT made for public display. It was clearly so the little girl could look like Mommie, not to make the neighborhood boys happy when they saw her.
Andrew — April 16, 2011
Creepy? Just an example of harmless childhood mimicking of adults? How do we draw the line between the two?
I'd draw the line at the point where the child is being presented/exploited for adult consumption and entertainment. There's nothing inherently sexual about wearing a bra and panties, unless there's an audience of observers there choosing to sexualize it.
When I was a little boy, I loved putting on my mom's bra and panties. Much to her relief, it didn't become a lifelong pastime, but so what? It's a completely normal feature of child's play to act out the adult roles they see around them. For me, it registered far higher on the "creepy" scale to have been given toy guns and weapons as innocuous gifts. I really struggled to understand why adults were completely at ease with children acting-out violent roles but horrified at the slightest hint (mistaken or otherwise) of emergent sexuality.
Honestly, I still don't get it.
Jonathan — April 16, 2011
Twisty Faster posted on this subject, at least with regards to the child beauty pageant phenomenon. Her take was that, from the perspective of the child, it was just an expression of their creativity confined to the strictures of a patriarchal system. The adult influence, though, was inexcusable.
helen — April 22, 2011
Woman is a sexualized idea, object, human, and behavior. Man is not. So dressing up like a woman brings sexual ideas to our heads (does it not?) while dressing up like a man brings ideas of business suits and jeans with workboots. Men are functional, strong. Woman is sexy.
kid fokker — March 11, 2013
Too bad there aren't more ads like this.
Media Reforms Regarding the Protection of Children | Bee Smith — March 30, 2013
[...] Gwen Sharp, PHD, Just like Mommie’s Panty and Bra Set http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2011/04/15/vintage-ad-for-just-like-mommies-bra-set/ [...]
Shelly — March 4, 2019
I used to make all the neighborhood boys very happy, after school, wearing mommy's bullet bra, open panty girdel, stockings, heels
It was very much fun.. we did more than play doctor. And so what??
Gary — March 4, 2019
Cool. Xx:-* I remember a girl like that when I was seven
We all had a lot of fun, everyday.
God bless the young slits
Very neat post
Gary — March 4, 2019
Did you pad the bra?