Primark Withdraws Padded Bikini for Seven-Year-Old Girls
Valerie Elliott, Consumer Editor
Times Online (UK)
April 14, 2010
Primark, the clothing chain, today ordered padded bikini bras for girls as young as seven to be removed from sale immediately after criticism that they sexualised children.
The company apologised for any offence caused by the £4 item and said profits from any bikinis already sold would be donated to a children’s charity.
The Children’s Society lambasted the High Street store for “premature sexualisation and inappropriate advertising”, while Shy Keenan, a child protection consultant with Phoenix Chief Advocates, which helps victims of paedophiles, called for a boycott of Primark until the bikini top was withdrawn.
David Cameron also intervened in the row and condemned sale of the item, which came in candy pink with gold stars or black with white polka dots, as “completely disgraceful.”
The Try leader has spoken out in the past against inappropriate clothing that sexualises children. He told BBC London Radio: “The sort of country I want is one where it is not just government (that) feels outraged about the early commercialisation and sexualisation of our children but companies should stop doing it, the should take some responsibility.”
Primark reacted swiftly to the furore. A spokesman said: “The company has stopped the sale of this product with immediate effect.”
Ms Keenan thanked the chain for taking note of the critics, and said that there could not have been a better outcome.
Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet, the parents' online forum which recently launched a “Let Girls Be Girls” campaign, to lobby retailers against sales of such adult items to children, was also pleased that Primark had removed the bra top from sale.
“It’s a shame it was ever put on the shelves in the first place,” she said.
Gordon Brown gave his backing to the Mumsnet campaign and said: “All of us parents can recognise there’s something wrong when companies are pushing our kids into acting like little grown-ups when they should be enjoying being children.“
Firms which have already endorsed the campaign include Asda, Boden and Start-rite shoes. Ms Roberts said that she hoped Primark would also now join the list.
Only two retailers, WHSmith and Next, have so far refused.
There have been a number of High Street stores whowever which have provoked outrage for selling items deemed too adult for young children.
Asda was criticised for selling lace lingerie, including a push-up bra, which were aimed at young girls, and Tesco withdrew a pole-dancing kit which appeared in its toy section. WH Smith announced last year it was also withdrawing Playboy stationery, including a pencil case, but refused to say if this followed criticism about the brand being sold to schoolchildren.
In the “family” section of its election manifesto, the Conservative party pledged to “help reverse the commercialisation of childhood, by clamping down on inappropriate advertising to children and letting teachers ban advertising and vending machines in schools“.