The clothes that are too sexy for our pre-teens
PADDED bras and high heels for young girls are set to be banned.
THESE are the kids' clothes and shoes that are expected to be banned this year as the Government considers new guidelines for retailers.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has reportedly consulted with the National Consumer Agency about developing a new code of conduct that would prevent Irish stores from selling padded bras and high heels to pre-teens and other suggestive material.
The Herald discovered that such inappropriate items were available in a number of high street shops, notably Dunnes, Penneys, Accessorize and New Look.
Although chiropodists have warned that wearing heels from a young age could cause long-term health problems, shoes with a one-inch heel which would fit three-year-old toddlers were available in Accessorize.
The footwear, which was made popular by Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise's daughter Suri (5), offers three types of heeled "party shoes" for €26.50.
The three styles include a flamenco-type strappy gold pair of shoes, a similar item in pink glitter, and silver peep-toes.
The outlet has previously justified selling these size 7 and above heels, by claiming that they were clearly not for everyday wear. A spokeswoman for the retailer told the Herald: "All styles of footwear within the Angels Collection -- a range of accessories created for girls up to 12 years old -- are designed and sold solely as dress-up / party shoes. They are not intended in any way for prolonged wear or to be worn as a regular daytime shoe... Through packaging and in-store merchandising, it is made very clear to consumers that all products in this collection are for purely dressing-up occasions only."
Parents have expressed concerns that these heels were not age-appropriate, while Dr Joe Kelly, the Chairperson of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists in Ireland, has repeatedly warned that wearing heels from a young age could cause problems in later life.
He remarked that in heel wearers, weight is distributed unevenly -- more so on the fall of the foot -- which can lead to shorter calves and muscles and increase the likelihood of deformity and falling over.
Meanwhile, two-inch heels were available in New Look in their nine to 15-year-old 'Generation' section.
Peep-toe gold heels were available from size 1, which would fit a seven or eight- year-old according to the size guide of online school uniform store Simmonds.
New Look was unavailable for comment.
Parents and children's agencies have also expressed concerns over the many ranges of padded bras available in high street stores.
The worst offenders appeared to be Penneys and Dunnes, which both offer padded bras for sizes that would fit a nine year old, that is to say 28A or 140cm.
One particular item sold in Penneys had white padded triangular cups and read 'Cheeky Monkey'.
While this bra did not mention an age, it was advertised for girls who reach 140cm in height or 29 to 30 inches around the chest, and sport bras which were placed nearby read "140cm, 9-10 [years old]".
Tops for five to six-year-old kids were also brought to the attention of the Herald.
These items are advertised as "girls' crop tops" but they are clearly designed in the same style as women's sport bras with demarcations around the chest area.
They are also only available in the underwear section of the shop -- next to the girls' padded bras.
A Penneys spokesman insisted yesterday: "Primark takes great care to sell age appropriate clothing.
"The company's bras are sized from 28A with no reference to age. The bras are not padded, they are lined for comfort and more importantly for modesty.
"Primark's policy is that no bra sold in Primark/Penneys should be advertised or labelled by age," the spokesman added.
"Crop tops for girls, which are soft, unstructured items and which are classed as vests, are labelled by age."
Dunnes Stores was unavailable for comment .