Last year, my daughters and I were taken aback at the selection of Halloween costumes for females of all ages at a party store. From toddlers through adults, the majority of these seemed to be in a competition to see which would win the prize for skimpiest, tightest fitting, most provocative and outright sleaziest. Now, I don't consider myself a prude, but a lot of those costumes really were disgusting.
Thankful that my girls are no longer little, I snapped up the last remaining least revealing vampire dress available in my daughter's size and, with a little help from some safety pins, was able to make it work wonderfully. As for the other daughter's costume (the other already had hers), we found a cute, albeit way too short one that a few yards of tulle and more safety pins were able to correct. It felt kind of like using one of those do-it-yourself craft kits, where most of the project is already assembled, but you do a few of the finishing touches so you can say "I made it myself."
I was reminded of this the other day, not because the store's commercials touting its vast selection of costumes and Halloween décor are in full swing, but because of something on one of those celebrity gossip shows that just happened to be on TV when I entered the living room. The celebrity of note was Jessica Simpson, who I've never been a fan of, and her four-month-old daughter, Maxwell. My initial shock was aimed at the baby's moniker – who names their daughter that?!? – then I realized it's no worse than other celebrities' baby names like Apple or Sunday and regardless of what anyone else thinks, people have the prerogative to give their kids whatever name they choose, even if the child risks being ridiculed for it down the road.
The photo of Maxwell flashing across the screen was simply amazing. It gave new meaning to "itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow bikini" (sans the polka dots). This utterly adorable baby girl, with dark eyes and faux-hawk hairstyle, donned a crocheted yellow bikini in a size 3-6 months, her diaper peeking out and her baby belly slightly hanging over the bottom. The photo was revealed on Katie Couric's new talk show.
A bikini for babies? What a neat idea, I thought. Toddlers and little girls wear them all the time to go swimming, so why not let babies wear them, too, if only for the cute factor?
This photo did not make it to a tabloid show because of its adorability, though; that's not what brings in the bucks for them. Controversy is what makes tabloids tick, which this photo of little Maxwell has generated plenty of. Critics are condemning Jessica's choice in her baby's attire. A British child welfare charity, Kidscape, said, "baby bikinis are totally inappropriate. They contribute to the sexualization and commercialization of childhood. We should not be compromising the sanctity of our children’s early years.”
Page 2 of 2 - According to this reasoning, we shouldn't have baby girls, on a hot day, sit around the house in only a diaper. Nor should babies be totally naked except for bath time, changing and doctor visits. Anything else would be sexually suggestive.
As I said earlier, I'm no fan of Jessica Simpson's. It pains me to defend her, but I really think she's getting an unfair rap in this case. It's one thing to dress a child in a sleazy Halloween costume or provocative everyday outfits. A bikini is a whole different matter. As long as it's not a thong, string or otherwise too revealing style, it can be totally appropriate for kids. And a baby who's much too young to comprehend any of this, wearing a bikini that covers her privates better than a lot of adult swimsuits do – can you say some people are much too nit-picky?
Like famous young mothers have for decades, Simpson's celebrity status has put her parenting skills under the microscope. Celebrity mongers look for anything and everything about her to criticize, and now that she has a child, what better target for tabloid fodder? Soon, Maxwell herself will become the object of the paparazzi, much like Suri Cruise has. We'll all certainly be watching for her first steps, first bike ride sans training wheels, first day of school, first date, first kiss...
Back to the bikini thing, I have to wonder if we aren't sometimes trying a little too hard to be politically/morally correct. We'll always have those who think nearly everything today is immoral and those who adhere to the notion that anything goes.
The ones in between make up the majority, so it's up to them to keep everything in perspective and not let some of these issues get overblown. Society is touchy enough as it is without drawing battle lines over such subjects as how a person dresses their child and whether or not tattoos/body jewelry are appropriate, among others.
It's time to concentrate on more important matters, like who's going to win the November elections, when and where gas prices finally tank out and, most vital of them all, will any Pirates go to state this season?