French Line Offers Lingerie for Girls As Young As Four

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Jours Apres Lunes

When it comes to the sexualization of young girls, France keeps stirring controversy.

First, there was the 10-year-old model styled in a very grown-up way in a Vogue Paris spread that many found unsettling, if not downright disturbing. Now, a new faux pas: a French lingerie line for kids that features girls prancing around in bras on its website.

(MORE: Vogue‘s 10-Year-Old Model and the Pressure to Be Hot From Cradle to Grave)

Jours Après Lunes, which offers underwear for babies, girls and female adolescents, has carved out a new niche that many believe sexualizes children. On its website, the French company offers undergarments for three different age groups: bébé (babies), fille (children), and ado/femme (teens). Don’t worry, the baby section solely features onesies, but the other sections showcase children in delicate two-piece lingerie sets that are far from Agent Provocateur, but bordering on Victoria’s Secret.

In these sections, you will find panties, bras and camisole sets that are undeniably pretty and embellished with lace, ornaments and bows. But the fact that these frilly items are catered to kids, even toddlers, is what Marilisa Racco, author of Le Snob Lingeries, calls “inappropriate.”

“A pearl-encrusted triangle bra on a little girl does not sit well with me,” she told the New York Daily News.

(VIDEO: Naughty Lingerie in Conservative Syria)

In the adolescent section, a model is reading on a couch wearing sunglasses in her underwear, and in another photo, the same teen is wearing only a bra and panties while hugging a teddy bear.

The world has become increasingly accustomed to young fashion models since the era when Kate Moss catapulted to international fame as a topless teen for Calvin Klein. In fact, Elle Fanning, Marc by Marc Jacobs’ new 13-year-old model for the fall/winter 2011 collection, is a very recent example of fashion’s preoccupation with the pretty young face. But critics claim that Jours Après Lunes is treading on dangerously sexual ground. In many of the photos, the child models echo the aesthetic of their older haute couture counterparts: voluminous hairdos pinned with accessories, oversized sunglasses, reclining poses and exposed skin.

Why a toddler would need a top designed like a bra, unless she’s in a swimming pool, we have no idea. But the French designer is defending her risqué line. In a letter to Fashionista, Sophie Morin wrote: “All I wanted to do was offer underwear that is soft and pleasant to wear,” adding that the materials “have no vulgar connotation: they are totally opaque, nothing transparent. The style is inspired by children’s fashion, with spots, bows, etc.” Morin also said she is “extremely surprised by the current uproar.”

MORE: At the Root of Every Problem Today Is … Fashion?

Kai Ma is a TIME contributor. Find her on Twitter at @Kai_Ma or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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