This is me...

This is me...
I'm having a mom moment....

Friday, March 29, 2013

Kids Will Be Kids, If We Will Only Let Them

In case y'all didn't know, I'm sort of a last minute kind of gal. So this afternoon, I took a little trip around to a few very popular department stores to look for Easter outfits for my kids. 

Very disappointing.  More on that in a minute.....

Recently, there has been a lot of hoopla about the new Victoria Secret line of underwear -- "Bright Young Things" -- that is targeted toward young girls.  YOUNG girls.  Like, teens and even TWEENAGE girls.  These underwear have sexually suggestive messages emblazoned on them -- across the butt or on the crotch.  Things like "Feeling Lucky?"  "I Dare You" and "Call Me".  When the story broke, I was appalled like everyone else -- thinking "Who in their right mind markets sex to kids??!"  Then I heard Victoria's Secret come out in total denial saying that their "Bright Young Things" line was part of their PINK line, for college aged girls, and I thought "Oh, well, that's a little different."  But, then again, I saw Justin Beiber performing on their televised underwear parade -- an endorsement for all of his 7-15 year old fans?  Perhaps.  And I saw this quote: 
“When somebody’s 15 or 16 years old, what do they want to be?” Chief Financial Officer Stuart Burgdoerfer said at a conference in January. “They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at PINK.”
Wait -- so the PINK line IS marketed to 15-16 year olds, then?  Not JUST to 19-24 year olds?  You mean they LIED??  Shocking.  And wait a minute -- why is it okay to give college aged women this twisted view of sex and what is attractive?  Sure they are a little older, but underwear that delivers messages to potential partners (because let's be honest, who else is going to see your underwear)??  Why would you need "Call me" on the front of your thong? Will he NOT call unless your underwear tells him to?  And while we are at it, let's discuss just how juvenille it is to have messages written on your underwear at all.  To take something childish, like words on your underwear, and use it to convey a sexually suggestive message, marketed towards people who are stradling both worlds trying to find their adult identities, is wrong. 

So I decided that it I don't think it's all that cool for Victoria's Secret to be marketing casual sex to college aged girls either. 

Not just because my kids look up to them, but because NO WOMAN should feel that any molecule of their worth hinges on anything other than what is in her head and in her heart -- especially not underwear with messages written on them.  (Oh, and please don't get your panties in a wad and start hurling rebuttals at me about how "a girl over 18 who is comfortable with her body should feel free to explore her sexuality" nonsense.  I am not suggesting a chastity belt for your "sexually aware" 18 year old if you want them to "explore" -- although I might consider one for my daughters).  I am suggesting, however, that we teach our daughters that their beauty, their desirability, or their worth is not tied to a pair of zebra print cheeksters. 

There is nothing wrong with wearing pretty underwear -- I always feel more confident, more dressed up, more together, prettier, and all sorts of other good things when my bra and panties have lace or some other pretty design, and they match each other (and let's face it, at nearly 40 years old and with 4 kids, I take my confidence boosts where I can get them).  And there is nothing wrong with a thong -- certain fashions look better on the outside if there is no pantyline (even though I have never found one I thought of as comfortable, and we all know that I am a comfort girl).  But pretty, and even sexy, should not be synonymous with "skanky" no matter how old you are -- underwear with messages like "Wild Thing" or "I dare you" emblazoned across the front of the crotch are not sexy.  And they cheapen young women, not empower them.  Do you want to know what is sexy?  Confidence. 

You cannot convey confidence with "Call me" written on your crotch.

So, basically, I was disgusted by this most recent attack on women's sexuality, but I thought "Don't buy slutty underwear for your 11 year old, prepare your kids for their sexuality, and shop elsewhere -- problem solved."  I mean, it's not like they don't still sell Hanes at Target.

But then I went to try and find some pretty dresses for Easter at Target.  And at Kohl's.  And I found that they no longer sell pretty dresses for little girls.  They sell sequined, spandex, and strapless dresses.  They sell voluminous taffeta and velvet dresses.  They sell clingy, rayon, mini-dresses.  All in NEON.  But I could not find EVEN ONE pretty, pastel or white dress for Easter.  And I wondered "Where IS the nightclub for 6 year olds?" because that is what these clothes look like.  I want to dress my girls in pretty things that are age appropriate, and it appears that the market for that is disappearing.  Are we really in such a hurry for our girls to grow up?  Do we want them dressing like the cast of "Sex in the City" on their way to Sunday School?

I need something for Easter Sunday, not a night at the Roxbury.

So as much as I disagree with it, I can't really be mad at Victoria's Secret.  They are doing what any good business would do -- they are capitalizing on what is apparently a rising trend of sexualizing our kids.  They are selling the sexy underthings to go with the sexy outer things that are everywhere in sizes 4-12, because that is the next step, right?  I mean, if you dress your 4 year old in spandex and sequins for church, don't be surprised if they want a thong at 11. 

But I am mad at the industry.  Not because they make sexy clothes for 3rd graders -- that is their prerogative, and there will always be someone who will buy them (and sequins have their time and place, even in an 8 year old's life).  I am mad because there is quickly becoming no other option for moms like me who want to dress my kids like, well, like kids.  I'd like a pretty spring dress with a ribbon at the waist that balloons out when she twirls making her face light up and causing the giggles to start.  I want my 6 year old in Mary Janes and lace trimmed socks, not spike heeled sandals. 

I want them to feel pretty because THEY ARE PRETTY and not because they are wrapped in sequins or spandex & up on stilts. 

There will be a time for that, but they should be out of elementary school before that time comes.  Kids should be free to be kids.  If they are dressing like extras from "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion" at 6 and 7, what are they going to do for prom when they are 16-17?  All of the magic of those fancy special occasion clothes will have been spent years before.  I for one do not want to rob my kids of that because I remember how amazing it felt to dress up in shiny, sparkly things for a special occassion.  It was wonderful.

So let's let our kids be kids for as long as we can.  They will have to spend their whole lives as adults, but they're childhood is fleeting. 

As for their underwear, when the time comes to abandon the white cotton Hanes, when they are older, and need bras (note, I said NEED -- despite Target, Kohl's, Wal-Mart, and other stores trying to sell them to my 9 year old), I will take them shopping for something frilly, girly, and pretty.  I will help them find something that they are comfortable in, that makes them feel confident, and that will work with the clothes that they wear.  And there will not be a single message written across the crotch or across the butt.


Heather Shanton said...

Every day I thank the Lord that He gave me a boy and I will never have this problem. BUT hopefully there will always be moms like you to provide wholesome girls for my son to date.

Barbara Cook said...

I think this is one of the best blogs you've ever written. I totally agree with you. There's a right time for things, and the industry is trying so hard to make that time way too young.

Lisa said...

When my daughter was in 5th & 6th grade, I put her in a charter school that required uniforms. To make her feel better, I let her get "pretty" underwear. To her that meant bright colors. No words of any sort. I don't get the point of all that stuff.

I have to admit, I created a monster! She's now 15 and the only undergarment she owns that is of a sedate color is the tan bra she has to wear with dance costumes. Everything is polka-dotted, striped, color-blocked or some bright color trimmed in a different bright color. But still no words!

Counting Caballeros said...

Keep raising those good boys! I've got two of those as well and it is not easy!

Counting Caballeros said...

Thank you Mrs. Cook! I just wish that there was another alternative. Strasburg has pretty little girl dresses....if you can afford them.

Michelle said...

EXCELLENT! I am so thankful that when I secretly "spy" or listen to my teenage boys talking to their friends about things teenage girls say & post on social networks, I hear sarcastic things like "yeah, she looks like a classy girl with morals. I know I want my future girlfriend/wife to have pictures like this haunting her forever." Or, "WOW! What nice language for a lady. I am sure her parents are proud."...."gee, glad she respects herself so much, it is clear she will respect other people. I'm sure with respect like that she has a lot of things going for her."

I am talking about a 16 year old teenager who is all about some girls, but expects young women to have some standards or else he has NOTHING to do with them & he is very vocal about it!

Counting Caballeros said...

Lisa -- The funky underwear as an expression of self when you are forced to conform with a school uniform is a great idea!

Counting Caballeros said...

Michelle --
THAT is the kind of guy I hope my girls find when they are teenagers!

Erin said...

Burlington used to have a great selection of Easter frilly dresses.
It's been a few years since I've needed to buy one though since I have a ton if hand me downs.

Maren McGimsey said...

As a MOm slightly ahead of you on the whole "How do I help my daughter dress fashionably, not slutty", I find internet shopping is the way to go. That and I point out pictures of Duchess Katherine to my daughter ALL THE TIME. Thank you, God, for a role model for my girl who looks amazing, fashionable, natural and manages to keep her naughty bits covered at all times.

Traci said...

I have a 6 year old granddaughter and buy the majority of her clothing. So often she wants one of these "pretty sparkly dresses" until she realizes they don't have shorts underneath. There is just no way she is going to let anyone see her hello kitty/princess panties while swinging on the monkey bars! We do compromise and allow a little bling/embroidery/sequins on the modest tops and bottoms. It's all about how girls are raised, with modesty! Recently I bought her a skort set with a wide strapped tank and she told me she couldn't wear it to school because it showed too much skin. My heart swelled...hopefully she will have the same attitude at 12, 15, 18, 30 ...forever! Children's Place and Gymboree still have sweet dresses for little girls. Shop the sales and use their coupons.