In case you missed it, Jessica Simpson was the first guest on Katie Couric's new daytime talk show, Katie, Monday morning (scroll down for the video). The two blondies chatted about Simpson's post-baby body and, more importantly, the baby itself. "Motherhood is a dream," said Simpson, before showing off a photo of her four-month-old daughter, Maxwell. Here's where things get interesting: In said photo, Maxwell is wearing an itty-bitty yellow crocheted bikini. The Internet, and British child welfare charity Kidscape, objects.
"It is very disturbing to see a young baby presented to the world wearing a bikini," Kidscape director Claude Knights said in an interview with Daily Mail. "It is to be hoped that parents will understand that 'baby bikinis' are totally inappropriate, and that they contribute to the sexualization and commercialization of childhood … We should not be compromising the sanctity of our children's early years."
Okay, I'm going to have to stop you right there. Do you know what babies usually wear? Nothing. How many photos have you seen of babies taking their first baths, or lying on their cribs with just a diaper on? So many. Babies are naked more often than they are clothed — probably because babies are messy and laundry takes up a lot of time and money. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that anyone who thinks that a photo of a baby in a bikini is "sexualizing" the child needs to get his or her mind in the gutter, or at least calm down a bit.
Now, I've seen Toddlers and Tiaras; I'm aware that the over-sexualization of children is rampant in this country. I am not a proponent of putting your four-year-old in a Pretty Woman costume and asking her to strut around a stage or instructing your daughter to "shake her booty" for a Mardi Gras dance. But Jessica Simpson putting her infant in a bikini is not the same thing. Dressing little Maxwell in her bikini is more akin to putting your dog in a Halloween costume. You do it because it's cute and funny; not because you hope that someone will find it attractive. Katie Couric's audience, who cooed when Maxwell's photo appeared on the screen, would agree.
(As a side note, I would like to point out that with this incident the public has once again found fault with Jessica Simpson's fashion choices — only this time she made the choice for her daughter. Poor Jessica — everyone always has an opinion about her clothes. They're always too dowdy or too revealing; they make her look too fat or too short. For whatever reason, Simpson's clothes are always a point of contention. Would we even raise an eyebrow if Angelina Jolie put Vivienne in a bikini, or if that was how Katie Holmes chose to dress Suri? Probably not. The Internet has decided that Jessica Simpson makes poor choices, whether or not that's the case. Can everyone take a deep breath and cut the woman a little slack?)
Bottom line: Bikinis are sexy and risqué because they reveal parts of the body that adults usually keep covered up. Babies, however, don't know the meaning of modesty. Seeing a baby's bare bottom or chest is nothing unusual or scandalous in the least. So how could seeing a baby with a covered bottom and chest somehow be worse? The logic doesn't compute.
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: Ida Mae Astute/Disney-ABC]
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