Gwyneth Paltrow accused of sexualizing girls by promoting bikinis

Spokesman for actress says criticism is absurd

Published On: Apr 23 2013 11:46:17 AM EDT

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is catching some flak by promoting a new bikini line for girls as young as 4 years old.

Paltrow's website shows a photo of an ad, which says the design is perfect for girls who want to match their mothers.

Critics say the bikini sexualizes children, but a spokesman for Paltrow says the criticism is absurd.

The bikini sells for about $40.

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Racy Victoria's Secret spring break campaign angers parents

Last month a group of parents spoke out, saying Victoria's Secret went too far wtih its line geared toward teens and 'tweens.

The popular lingerie brand was advertising items in its PINK line, which is geared toward younger women, with the slogan "Bright Young Things." The campaign featured underwear printed with phrases like "call me," "feeling lucky" and "wild." A 16-second YouTube video featured young-looking models splashing around in skimpy bikinis with the tagline "new spring break must-haves."

Thousands of parents took to social media and online petitions to complain that the line was targeted at 'tween and teen girls.

Diana Cherry, a Seattle mother of three young daughters and a son, got nearly 4,000 supporters to sign her petition that called the underwear "a glaring example of a culture forcing girls to grow up too fast."

Commenters on the Victoria Secret Facebook page said the campaign was "disgusting" and "sexually (exploited) teenagers." Many called on shoppers to boycott stores.

The suggestive underthings were taken out of stores and off the website on Monday. The company brought in new merchandise for spring and summer.

A representative for Victoria's Secret, which is owned by Limited Brands, said that the "Bright Young Things" slogan was used as part of the college spring break tradition, and that PINK is a brand for college-aged women.

Victoria's Secret has printed panties with similar phrases before, a fact that some people who weren't as offended by the campaign pointed out.

"This is the same sort of thing found on their college-aged targeted line ... for a long time now," commenter Jay Gray wrote on Facebook. "Why is it all of a sudden an issue?"

Some said that the responsibility and blame lies with parents who allow their daughters to buy the items -- not with Victoria's Secret.

"That's like boycotting ice cream because it made you fat, but you were the one that consumed it," Amanda St Clair wrote. "Parents, if you don't like it, don't let your kids wear it."