Yes, little girl lingerie is wrong.
Or, it would be wrong if it existed, but it doesn't. I fell for the headline, and now I feel like a creep for being intrigued.
Here's the deal … 'Little girl lingerie' was an attention-getting term used by media outlets to describe a line of children's clothing launched in 2011. Jours Après Lunes is a French label that produces what the designer calls "loungerie enfant," or lounge-around-wear for kids. In English, the term 'lingerie' is understood to be something sexually risqué a woman wears to entice and seduce men. In French, 'lingerie' derives from 'linen', and the broader term describes nothing more risqué than underwear.
Fashion sites know these definitions better than their readership, yet in August one of the biggest such sites, Fashionista, 'broke' the story of Jours Après Lunes' campaign featuring kids wearing the items while playing dress-up—heavy make-up, over-the-top hairstyles, oversized sunglasses and other accessories. Some pictures seemed (to me) undeniably sexually suggestive.
The designer defended her line as being totally acceptable and age appropriate, then took a page from the Abercrombie & Fitch It's-Not-Me-It's-You playbook.
Recall back in 2002 when A&F began selling thong underwear for girls ages 7 and up that featured imprinted slogans like "eye candy." The company responded to the outcry by claiming that their kiddie thong's heart was in the right place and that "any misrepresentation … is in the eye of the beholder."
Put in more direct terms, they're not sickos for making it, we are—for thinking they made it. This is a cynical, even delusional insult, but it's not the point.
Fashionista is an enormously popular fashion website that has never presented itself as a defender of the innocent. In fact, a month before the little girl lingerie headline, the website took the occasion of a highly sexualized French Vogue photo editorial featuring 10-year old Ivory Coast model Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau to gush over the girl's staggering, Bardot-like beauty.
Conclusion? Some clever Fashionista editor realized 'Little Girl Lingerie' was a headline homerun. The site could run the sensational headline, re-print the racy photos while protecting their own image by adopting a moral, journalistic high ground.
This is a common (cynical) media tactic employed by local news, tabloids and websites to attract viewers and eyeballs. Since the publisher is only reporting, then gruesome autopsy photos, violent 7-11 robberies and little girl lingerie are all fair game.
Ross is a freelance journalist and writer specializing in medical topics and men's lifestyle. His work appears in numerous online and print publications, including AskMen, Forbes, AOL, and Fox News. He is the editor of several published quotation collections, and in addition to work as a cancer care advocate, he plays ice hockey and blogs for two pro hockey web sites.