Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Gateway jeans

There are so many issues on which I’m not nearly overprotective. My girls have eaten food off the floor many times. They don’t get bathed every single day. I’m not the best with ensuring bedtime routines, especially on weekends. You know that just last week I let E play in front of a bunch of teenagers, and bad words were uttered.

But Mama is very protective of their wardrobe.

What makes me crazy, what makes me OUT OF MY MIND ANGRY, is any notion put forth that my little cherubs should be dressing like hookers-in-training. Why, WHY? do infant and children’s clothes need to be modeled after adult clothes so often? Why, WHY? does a child so young she has never heard the word ‘sexy’ need the opportunity to be outfitted in anything a grown woman uses to flaunt her grown body?

I’m not a prude; I think anyone who knows me in person would laugh at that notion. Some of the bans I implement on my girls’ clothes might be unnecessarily strict. No bikinis, even though yummy, chubby baby bellies are delicious. (It’s less suncreening real estate, anyway – time saver!) No midriffs purposely exposed in any manner. No one-shoulder shirts. No ruching at the V-tip of a V-neck shirt – and the two or three shirts with ruching that E has received as gifts, I have painstakingly removed the stitches and the elastic strip, and de-ruched. No HIGH HEELS! Why are toddler size shoes available with heels? No shirts with messages like ‘Born to Shop’ or ‘Glamour Girl’ or ‘2 Cute 4 U’ – my girls are not going to serve as billboards advertising their consumerism (and thereby pushing them further into it), nor are they going to wear messages that flaunt or taunt with or call attention to physical qualities.

It’s my inbox that sent me into this frenzy today, and The Gap is the latest culprit: skinny jeans in their TODDLER LINE. Aside from imagining how ridiculous these will look over a nice, full diaper, note the tagline – the selling point: ‘Make her first pair a standout with these cool skinny jeans, made just for your future fashionista.

The slight tremor you felt around 4 this afternoon (EDT) was not an earthquake but the sound of my skull trying to keep my brain inside, and not exploded outward like a big, angry, don't exploit my babies or teach them to exploit themselves maternal geyser.

Last year the American Psychological Association released its Report of the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Please, go read it. I understand if you're not up to it right now. Save the bookmark for when you need to work up some good old fashioned indignation. Meantime, let me share with you two excerpts:

Given that girls may be developing their identity in part through the clothing they choose, it is of concern when girls at increasingly younger ages are invited to try on and wear teen clothes designed to highlight female sexuality. Wearing such clothing may make it more difficult for girls to see their own worth and value in any way other than sexually. The sexualization of girls in clothing advertisements appeared at least as early as 25 years ago...What seems to be a more recent phenomenon, however, is the production of “sexy” clothing in child and teen sizes. Pollett and Hurwitz (2004) noted that the thong, an item of clothing based on what a stripper might wear, is now offered in “tween” stores as well as children’s wear departments, often with decorations that will specifically appeal to children. Retail stores such as Limited Too that focus on the so-called tween population (defined by the store as ages 7 up to teen years) sell sexy lingerie such as camisoles and lacy panties, items that once would have been marketed only to adults… (pp. 14-15)

The research…offers evidence of negative consequences for girls when they are sexualized or exposed to sexualized images and when others are exposed to such images. First, there is evidence that girls exposed to sexualizing and objectifying media are more likely to experience body dissatisfaction, depression, and lower self-esteem…Self-objectification has been shown to diminish cognitive ability and to cause shame…. (p. 35)

Obviously, there’s much more, and it will only get you more riled up. Good. Be riled up! I am.

I want my girls to be fully-participating members of society. I do not want to ostracize them or remove them so far from normative dress (or normative anything) that they’re marginalized or labeled “freaks.” I’m not pulling out a long hoarded stash of floursacks and sewing floss right now or anything. But goodness, what’s wrong with dressing kids so they look like kids? Pin It


Anonymous said...

GEEZER WISDOM: RIGHT ON, SISTER! (Begging pardon, if your father may address you as SISTER)

Love, Gramps

Anonymous said...

Even worse?

When you ranted about heels this is what I thought you were talking about. These are apparently part of the Emmys SWAG bags this year. Makes me sick.