Before anyone furrows their pretty little brows at me, I use the term “slutty” clothing because I find it absurd and it also makes me laugh. Even though I find it sad that we still judge women and girls based on what they cover their bodies with rather than what comes out of their mouths, as a parent I am sympathetic to other parents who have difficulties in dressing their daughters in what they feel is “appropriate attire.” In the Fashion & Style section of the New York Times, daddy Bruce Feiler is having difficulties with the whole Fine Line Between Sweet and Skimpy thingy:
It first happened to me this spring. My daughters, who had just turned 8, came bounding into the room to show off new outfits they were wearing to an extended-family gathering. My eyes bulged. The dresses drooped provocatively off the shoulder and offered other peekaboos of their bodies. Sure, as a parent, I figured I would one day face clothing battles with my children. Politicians aren’t the only ones who draw red line.
Although I like the article, and I agree that a lot of the clothing made for children is totally inappropriate, especially when emblazoned with slogans that perpetuate gender stereotypes or that send provocative messages, I feel like I sort of need to remind big daddy Bruce here that his eight-year-old daughters did not buy the clothing themselves. A parent, either him or his wife, paid for the outfits he finds “too provocative.”
A lot of clothing, especially for young girls, is inappropriate. According to a study discussed in the article:
Sarah K. Murnen, a professor of psychology at Kenyon College, said parents today face greater challenges than those in the past because girls’ clothing has become more sexualized. “Some people say it’s due to an increased pornification of culture,” Professor Murnen said, “where the easy availability of pornography on the Internet has made its way into styles and popular culture.” She cited thong underwear, push-up bras and leather miniskirts for first to fifth graders as examples.
In a 2011 study, Professor Murnen evaluated 5,666 items of girls’ clothing on 15 popular Web sites to determine whether they were “childlike,” “sexualizing” or “adultlike.”
OK, yeah, any parents who has walked into a Justice clothing store realizes this. But here’s the thing, you do not have to buy these items. There is no law stating that you have to buy your daughter reveling clothing. It’s especially unfair when parents buy these items for their daughters and then they turn around and make them feel bad for wanting to wear them. I have an eight-year-old daughter. She wears what I buy her. I let her express her own individuality by getting to choose her own accessories and hairstyles. She can wear twenty necklaces a day for all I care, but she is usually wearing these over a plain T-shirt, jeans and a cardigan. She wears insanely colored nail polish, and plenty of ridiculous headbands, but she doesn’t wear clothing out of the house that I feel is too revealing or perpetuates gender stereotypes by proclaiming “I am 2 pretty 4 homework.”
Until the day comes, probably in the future when we are all wearing spacesuits, that society doesn’t judge women based on how they look or the size of their hemlines, I dress all my kids in sort of utilitarian styles that they can run, jump, play and learn in. Because I’m the parent, and I buy the clothing. It’s really not that hard.