When I was nine years old, me and three of my best friends dressed up in the bright plaid mid 90s duds the Limited Too offered and strutted around our local store for two hours. We were "models," part of an "in-store" program. I think we got to take home one piece of clothing, or maybe our parents got a discount at the store. Either way, I loved doing it. I loved the outfit I picked out all on my own and I loved hanging out with my friends. I felt pretty and important. It was a good feeling.
No one took my picture.
It wasn't really about what we were wearing. It was about the experience. No one took pictures of us mugging in our tights worn over shorts with oversized flannel shirts. Because, no one really cared. Sadly, I'm about 99% percent sure that no child today could have a fun, no-pressure "modeling" day like the one I had in 1995. Why? Duh, it's the internet's fault! Well, the internet and the scourge of image-conscious parents that clothe their offspring in sequins and skinny jeans and blazers and iridescent sneakers and put them online for the world to see.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for dressing kids in cute, fashionable clothing. When I have some of my own, you can be damn sure that I'll be putting them in clothes that reflect my personal tastes. I'll have no qualms telling my mom I don't want her buying nondescript sports onesies for a boy infant or sparkly "diva" tees for a baby girl. But there's a line between dressing a kid in a way you like and using him or her as a prop to express your aesthetic preferences. It's a line that's getting blurrier and blurrier these days, and frankly, I'm a little freaked out.