Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Don't Push It

I'm having a really hard time with this bombardment on young girls to be more "grown-up." Being the mom of two little girls, I'm appalled at the clothes retailers are offering our daughters. While shopping for underwear this past Christmas for my 4 year year old, I was hard pressed to find a package of panties that weren't bikinis. BIKINIS?? Seriously? For a FOUR YEAR OLD?? I mean, who could blame the pre-school set from wanting to keep their panties from peeking out of their LOW-RISE jeans, right? Heaven forbid!

Because Anna is handicapped, she still wears diapers. I can't find a pair of regular-rise jeans to cover the tops of her diaper to save my life. Because of this, we've resolved to wearing lots of stretch pants . Osh Kosh does have wonderful, age-appropriate clothes and we get a lot of jeans from there... on sale, of course. But what about our local Supercenters? Who are the buyers going to market and buying these clothes to put in these stores? Do THEY have daughters? I hope not.

Now, I know all about supply and demand. Retailers wouldn't sell such items if there wasn't a demand for it. But where are the parents and their sound judgement when a four to six year old girl wants to dress like a scantily-clad "pop sensation?" As a teenager, I wanted to dress like the girls on MTV because I thought they were "cool," but you better believe that I never left the house with my belly showing. Looking back, the only crimes of fashion I committed, were wearing shoulder pads or the occasional "big hair band" t-shirt. Oh, yeah, there was that summer before senior year where my friend Stephanie and I were trying to see how many items of black clothing we could add to our wardrobe as heavy metal wanna- be's. It turned out that it wasn't many. That was the extent of our rebellion!

While at my mom's house over the weekend, we were channel surfing trying to find something to watch on television. We stopped on a local channel that was advertising gowns for formals and prom season. Every single dress (with the exception of one that was vintage from the 50's) was cut so low in the front or the back, that underwear couldn't have possibly been an option. Another had a split so high up the front that the poor girl had to keep her hand in front of her private area as she was walking down the stairs to keep from giving the viewers at home a show. Finally the camera-man had enough decency to cut away and let another camera catch her from a different angle. There is something to be said for leaving something to the imagination, however old-fashioned that may sound. I know I wouldn't want my daughter left alone in the company of a hormone-crazed young man for 3 or 4 hours in that dress. Would anyone?

Apparently we've just become de-sensitized to so many things in our society. Inappropriate language, violence, sexual innuendos are everywhere we turn. We can't act surprised at how fast our children are growing up when they are trying to emulate their Bratz doll's sense of fashion, or are learning who knows what playing Grand Theft Auto. My girls are not yet at the age where they are asking for a particular style of clothing, but Jamie Ruth does ask for certain toys she sees advertised or asks to watch particular shows. I try to guide her to make choices about dolls that I feel are appropriate but she never fails to reach for the doll that I feel looks like a "hootchie." When I ask her what she likes about that particular doll, she explains that she's pretty or that she likes her lipstick (how could she miss the lips on the doll, really? I mean, she looks like a blow-fish!). If I'm lucky, I can usually steer her towards a new Dora or a Barbie that comes with it's own horse. But how long will that last? As far as TV goes, even shows that are supposedly kid-friendly come with their own set of problems. Though the language may not be as foul as you would find on one of the major networks, I have a problem with telling someone to shut-up or calling someone an idiot, and I have an even bigger problem when my four-year-old tries to do it.

So what's a parent to do? Here's an idea... be a parent. My mom was never interested in being my friend when I was growing up. She always told me that I may have a hundred friends, but I only have ONE mother. So many young parents, especially, are trying to be their children's best friends. Your child doesn't need another friend, what she needs is some guidance and a role model in you. So what if "EVERYONE ELSE" has a particular doll/game/shirt/CD. My step-dad always met my plea of "But EVERYBODY gets to do this or have that" with "not EVERYBODY, Lindsey. YOU don't." Go ahead and put that quote in your arsenal to use at your discretion. I have.

1 comment:

  1. Well said. I feel the exact same way about clothes, toys, etc. for Emily Anne. When I was teaching middle school, it was a struggle daily not to teach a class on morals and values and to explain to my thong-wearing, overly made-up 12 year old, that I still played Barbies when I was 12, and I turned out okay! Hopefully since our girls have friends with similar values they'll get double reassurance.