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Padded Bikini Top for Seven-Year-Olds Draws Parents' Ire

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Would you buy your pre-teen daughter a push-up bikini top? One major retailer hopes you will.

Abercrombie & Fitch, a popular store among teenagers, recently introduced the "push-up triangle," marketing the swim top to girls as young as seven or eight.

But of the parents Good Morning America spoke to, the reaction was unanimous -- no one would buy one for their child.

"I won't be buying them for my eight-year-old," one parent said.

"I thought it was a joke when I first heard about it. Then, I realized, it's so crazy, it must be true," Dr. Michael Bradley, a child psychologist, told Good Morning America on Saturday.

Bradley said the American Psychological Association has warned in the past that retailers were going after young girls.

"They're targeting girls as young as age four to be sexualized creatures," Bradley said.

In response to the public outcry, Abercrombie renamed the top on its online store the "striped triangle." The padding remains, however, as does the outrage. Many viewers wrote in to the GMA shoutout board and Facebook page.

"Padded bathing suits for young school girls is vulgar," one person wrote. "Geez, we live in a scary society. I hope parents tell their children they are perfect the way they are!"

It's hardly the first time the racy company has strayed into controversial territory. A few years ago, Abercrombie offered thongs for the 10-year-old set with the words "wink, wink" stitched on the front. The company's advertisements have also raised concerns over the years for being too revealing.

And Abercrombie isn't alone. Earlier this year, Wal-Mart was criticized for its plans to introduce a line of make-up products directed at girls aged eight-to-12.

Tweens spend roughly $24 million on beauty products each year.

Bradley said the consequences on young girls may be many.

"We're shaping their beliefs," he said. "We're actually teaching them that this is their primary value in this culture."

He also said it can shape their behavior, harms their body image and can add unnecessary anxiety.

The onus does lie with the parents, however, to keep their children out of the swimsuits, Bradley said. He advised to use the moment as a teaching moment if your child really wants the product. He said to avoid a shouting match by asking questions that spark a discussion.

"These guys really should be ashamed," said Bradley. "I hate to get this in their faces like that, but it's just wrong. It's hurting people."

Abercrombie has showed no signs they plan to pull the product from its store's shelves. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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