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Designer Defends Nipple Tassels on Tot T-Shirt
It's not a wardrobe malfunction.
Suzi Warren intentionally put nipple tassels on shirts for infants and preschool girls.
Warren is the owner and designer of Twisted Twee, a London clothing company some people find twisted indeed. The tasseled top has been causing a controversial buzz on the blogosphere.
Twisted Twee also offers clothes for babies and preschoolers that proclaim, "I've done f--k all day" (minus the dashes). Then there are alphabet shirts that announce that B is for Beer, C is for Condom and X is apparently for a pig having sexual relations with a duck.
Warren talked to ParentDish exclusively last night, via email, from her vacation in Spain, to explain her design:
"The Nipple Tassel t-shirt was designed as a response to my own distaste at seeing mini versions of sexy clothes on young children," she wrote. "Five-year-olds wearing slashed mini skirts and boob tubes, little thumb-sucking Britneys.
"There is nothing very sexy about a baggy, lap neck, long sleeved t- shirt for a 6-month-old. So by embellishing this style of garment with printed nipple tassels, the result is not that the baby becomes sexualized by the tassels, but that the tassels are made benign and silly by the baby. In fact the more inert, innocent and unaware the infant is, the more ludicrous the contrast becomes."
Tasseled tots might fall under what University of Iowa journalism professor Meenakshi Gigi Durham calls "The Lolita Effect" in her book of the same name, which examines the pressure on increasingly younger girls to be presented as objects of sexual desire.
Durham said a survey last year by Girlguiding, a British Girl Scout organization, concluded that girls as young as 10 feel intense pressure to conform to social pressure to look and behave seductively.
We asked Warren to respond:
"I totally agree with critics who feel that young girls are put under
enormous pressure by the media, the fashion industry and the content
of many TV programs, to be aware of their appearance, and then
dissatisfied with it," she added. "The trap set to ensnare girls into a life-time
of preoccupation with their looks is a subtle one.
"My garments are not part of this trap because they are about a subtle as a blinking brick and are aimed at parents of children too young to read or speak.
"If you are wondering who would be heartless enough to put their tiny
daughters in Nipple Tassel t-shirts, it is often their grandparents
who think the design 'cheerful.' Or the parents of boys who think the
whole gender bender things a bit of a hoot.
"Most of Twisted Twee's t-shirt designs are a response to some baffling
thing or other our daughter Betty has done, and celebrate the
befuddlement of parenthood and the idiocy of life. We call the things
we make pieces of Object D'aft. That is what the Nipple Tassel t-shirt
is. A bit of lunacy."
Okay, our final question to Warren: Say I bought one for my six-month-old baby, and I had a 10-year-old child as well. What message do you think it would send to that older child?
"I guess my answer would simply be if you have doubts about it, don't buy it," she wrote. "Your daughter is probably smart enough, self confident enough and relaxed enough to share the irony, but maybe she'd hate it and become very angry about it and that's probably not a bad thing either. Dressing a baby probably shouldn't be laden with social significance."
Now that she explained it, would you buy this t-shirt for your daughter?