Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Mom's Rant: Brought to you by Girls' Clothing

I am annoyed by many things.

Here’s a short list: whistles, whining, garden hoses that won’t un-kink, Christmas lights of any sort, electrical cords, people who yell at other people that they are “intolerant” (doesn’t this neutralize any “intolerance” that they themselves claim to have?), dog poop, pens that don’t work, shoestrings that are too short, people who don’t pull over to the curb when they are getting a ticket, repetitive noises, car alarms, dead batteries, bullies, Abercrombie & Fitch, weeds that grow between bricks, when people think I’m ignorant because I have a southern accent, radio commercials, pollen, background TV noise, caution signs that read “BUMP” (seems like it would be just as easy to fix the bump as to put up a sign) and a myriad of other things.

However, since summer is coming up and I have three daughters, I have decided to focus my annoyance on one thing (for the moment, anyway.) That thing is: girls’ clothing.

Shopping with my daughters should be fun. Usually it is, but the other day as my 9-year-old and I looked through row after row of skimpy swimsuits and super short summery shorts, she asked, “Why do they sell stuff like this for kids?” She’s a smart girl, and that’s a good question. She seemed curious and frustrated at the same time when she found a section of padded bikini tops in the girls’ 8-10 section. “This stuff doesn’t seem very modest,” she added, with a roll of her eyes.

I would have to agree. When I was growing up, if I had tried to leave the house in some of the things being marketed to our young girls today, my daddy would’ve sent me straight back to my room to change and/or put on a sweater.

I am annoyed – and offended, I might add – that so many of today’s stores and designers seem to be selling sex to our daughters. Don’t they grow up too soon as it is? Why would we want to buy them underwear printed with the words “Feeling Lucky?”

I’ve said it before (When Did Halloween Get So Trashy?) and I’ll say it again:
Whose brilliant idea was it to start dressing our little girls like grown (and immodest, at that) women? Why is this okay?

Call me old-fashioned. Call me style-less. Heck, just call me crabby. I may very well be all of these things (and worse), but it’s not just about clothing. Being modest is about so much more than that. It’s about self-respect. It’s about dignity and having people like you for YOU, not for what you’re wearing (or NOT wearing.)

I’ll be honest with you – as the mother of three girls, I’m worried about this issue. As styles get skimpier and skimpier and the whole “sex sells” idea permeates more and more of our culture, it’s getting harder and harder to teach girls that they are MORE than just a pretty face – more than some boobs and a perky backside. It’s getting harder and harder to convince them of the truth: that their worth isn’t based on their outward appearance and that they do not have to believe what they hear (or see)!

I know that’s “what’s in the stores.” I know that it’s hard to find other styles. I know that girls want to wear stuff that’s “in,” stuff that’s popular – stuff that people in magazines are wearing. But newsflash: we don’t HAVE to buy that stuff. We are the parents. We have the money. If the stores aren’t moving the short shorts and the skimpy, low-cut tank tops, then they WILL get something different. If we complain, if we tell the manager, if we write some emails to corporate offices… we could really change some things.

Of course I’m not suggesting that girls need to wear puritanical dresses and veils, but we have to teach our girls to be strong minded individuals who value themselves and are capable of making rational decisions about their bodies and yes, even their choice of clothing. Yes, I know that as their mother, it’s my job to do that. But the fact is that they LIVE in the culture that surrounds them. No matter what I teach them, they will (in some way or shape or form) be affected by our culture, and to put it bluntly, this part of our culture is just stupid.

Is it any surprise that the US is full of thousands and thousands of young girls who are suffering from eating disorders? Or that kids are having sex at younger and younger ages? In a world where sexual exploitation and “gendercide” of females are taking place at an unbelievable rate, shouldn’t we have something better to offer as role models than unrealistically thin models dressed in string bikinis? Shouldn’t our stores offer little girls’ clothing that looks like it should be worn by (gasp) LITTLE GIRLS?

Make no mistake – our children are being objectified by retailers and we are PAYING them to do it.
Shouldn’t parents be infuriated by this? Or at the very least, annoyed?

Our daughters deserve better.