Monday, November 1, 2010

What the World Needs Now

Is definitely NOT this...

I have blogged before about my feelings on girls' clothing. In many ways, having four girls has been a real blessing and joy. I enjoy their tea parties, their love of Little House and Anne of Green Gables. I love buying them hair clips and bows, cute tights and socks, purses and beads.

That being said, I DREAD clothes shopping for these girls after they pass the 4T size. In particular, I loathe casual clothes shopping for anyone over 5 when I am forced to purchase smaller-sized street walker clothing, or pay a small fortune for more appropriately styled clothing.

The article reads, "Little kids are so status-conscious about clothing now, more than ever," said Eli Portnoy, a branding strategist based here. "It was a natural evolution for young college, teenage brands: 'Why not go after them younger and get them hooked into our brands?' "

Status-conscious? Really? My Banana is 10, smack-dab in the horribly titled tween years. She is just starting to match her clothing, you know stripes can't be worn with plaids kind of thing. Her clothing choices revolve more around her interests. Her favorite shirt? It's the purple one with the soccer ball on it, certainly not because of the status it represents, but rather the fact she enjoys playing soccer. She spends more time trying to turn her clothing into outfits that resemble those of whatever books she is reading than deciding what sort of status it displays. Perhaps if we, as a society, were busier trying to market good books and activities, we would have less time to worry about making sure our 8 year olds were brand-conscious.

Both of my older girls are certainly entering new stages of their lives. Each day I am reminded they aren't the little girls they were, and I wonder how they grew so fast. Banana is starting to ask if her hair looks ok. Rather than six randomly placed clips, she has mastered pony tails and headbands. Bear is almost 8 and is a little more advanced in these areas because she has Banana as an example. They both have started to express clothing preferences and have started raiding my jewelry box. They get a real kick out of using my cucumber bath spray, pale pink nail polish, and clear lip gloss. I can't think of anything more harmful to their development than to have them more inundated with societal views of fashion.

Why can't we let them be kids? Why push teenage angst on 7-year olds? Marketing specifically to them shows how much materialism has permeated into every aspect of our society. My goal is to raise girls who can see beyond silly "status-conscious" clothing to see real beauty. I do hope to teach my girls to present themselves as the young women they want to become, but for now I am content to have them learn multiplication tables and the rules of soccer.

I also thought this quote was particularly interesting: "They've been dressing their penguins on Club Penguin or their Webkinz online," she said. "You put them in a shopping mall, they've got that behavior of 'I love to shop.'"

For a long time, dh was vehemently opposed to the Webkinz fad. I relented to them thinking that as long as we monitored their activity and did not allow our children to spend too much time with them, they were relatively harmless. Now I am beginning to wish I had listened a little more to his objections. He quickly saw the materialism and disliked how the whole Webkinz page was more an advertisement to buy more and less a child's game. He was more aware of the ploy to get kids to be consumers, teach them early the temporary happiness of materialism, real or virtual. I am not saying that Webkinz are evil, but I do wish I had thought a little more about the materialism I was introducing to my very young children.


Anonymous said...

Show me a culture that despises virginity, and I will show you a culture that despises children.

Corinne said...

I like Webkinz - the kids do get sick of them on their own although I agree with you about the materialism now that you mention it. That being said - I LOVE your post!!! I feel the same way - so far I'm blessed with a tomboy for my oldest (11). I just started homeschooling and really feel like I dodged a major bullet - Praise God!!! It makes me feel safer just knowing there are moms out there like you. Thank you.