Are Girls Dressing Too Sexy for Their Age?
I have had a very tumultuous relationship with image and style for my entire life. As a young child, I was a tomboy. I haven't seen the picture in years, but I know there’s a great shot out there of me at Easter wearing a gas station attendee uniform…in kid size. And don’t even get me started on the pictures of me running around with no shirt and a pair of cut off shorts.
By the time I hit junior high, I wanted so desperately to be cool, but my mom didn’t believe in spending money on clothing just because it was fashionable or the right name brand. She bought me appropriate, decent clothing and trends could be damned. I could spiral perm my hair and tease it to the ceiling as much as I wanted. It wouldn’t change the fact that I didn’t have the total package. By the end of high school I had given up and went with what I thought looked cool, not what was in the pages of some glossy magazine. On most days you could find me in a pair of plaid shorts, an old concert t-shirt, and some lace up combat boots. The spiral perm? I had cut that out and died what was left of my hair black.
As hard as it was for me to figure out where I fit in when being held to the standards in the media and in the hallways of my school, it is going to be even more difficult for my daughter. Media is now integrated fully into our lives. Children’s shows are also books, products, special events, and tours. Tween shows will be the same, with all of the messages that come along with them. We have chosen to do all that we can to limit our daughter’s exposure to the messages girls receive today to look and act a certain way, often at entirely too young an age.
In the push to raise trendy children and in light of the importance placed on celebrity, moms are now raising a generation of girls who wear fashions at the age of eight that I would have worn at the age of fifteen. I’ve had a young teenage girl show up at my door Halloween night in a Playboy Bunny costume. I know what I’m up against. But as a mom I’ve put my foot down and said, not in this house. If she wants me to paint her nails, that’s fine. I just don’t want her to think she has to because of some tween star on TV. If she prefers skirts over pants, that’s great, too. But I’d much rather that be because they’re comfortable, not because of a picture on a grocery store shelf.
I know that someday my daughter will want to look grown up and mature just like I did when I was going through all of the variations of my own style, but my hope is that we’ve done enough to block outside influences and set standards now so that when she is making those choices she is making them because of what she wants and not what she thinks everyone else wants from her. And with a little luck, she’ll be able to fast forward to the comfortable without having to struggle through the spiral perms…for all of our sakes!