Mothers, please be mindful of the things you buy for your young girls (and tweens and teens). I know much of the available clothing is cute and colorful and embellished and even inexpensive, but it is also very small and very tight and not at all suited for a child, especially one who likes to run, jump, play, or just move, period.
Modesty aside, let’s just talk practicality. Does it makes sense to put low-rise, super-short shorts on a child you know will be on the jungle gym, on the slide, on the swing, jumping, twisting, twirling, and doing every other type of big movement kids love to do?
I can’t tell you how many exposed behinds I’ve seen on little girls at the park. You don’t know who could be there, scoping out your baby’s body–maybe even taking pictures and uploading them to some freaky site. Some people are truly twisted.
A lot of moms think its not a big deal; they’re just cute clothes. But I have seen girls’ shorts with the words “low rise” printed on them as a selling point. That means the manufacturers specifically designed the clothes to show more skin… on your young child. That means there was more fabric there, but they instructed the seamstress to cut it out to ensure maximum exposure…on your young child. And to make matters worse, many of the shirts are too short and tight to cover up what the pants don’t.
I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m jumping down their back or judging their parenting. I promise that’s not the case, but if we don’t protect our daughters, no one else will. These clothing manufactures (many of them) don’t care one bit about you or your child. All they care about is making money and advancing the agenda of child sexualization.
Yea, I know… I probably lost you there. Most moms don’t believe there is an agenda to sexualize young children. They think its all about the quickly changing tide of fashion, but when fashion makers continually design children’s clothing that is hardly functional because of how skimpy it is, I don’t know what else to call that. It’s not as if one controversial company decided to make sexy kid clothes. It’s standard practice at this point. I can find teeny weeny girl’s clothes at…
…and pretty much any other store that sells children’s clothing. In fact, when it comes to jeggings, mini skirts, booty shorts and stretchy spaghetti strap tanks, I can find those easily, without even trying. What I struggle to find is a pair of pants that aren’t “skinny,” or a shirt that isn’t “fitted,” or really anything that doesn’t look like it’s sucking on my child’s body. So, trust me, something is going on. None of this is a coincidence.
More than just clothes
As our girls are being dressed in less and less, their self-image is changing more and more. Understand, mothers, these aren’t just clothes. They are messages being sent to and about our children. When a young girl dresses up in her mother’s clothes, the message she receives is, “I can be just like mommy when I grow up.” Assuming you’re a good person (and I’m sure you are), that’s a beautiful message to receive. But when a young girl dresses up in short and tight clothes designed specifically for her, the message becomes, “I can be like an adult now.”
Not when she grows up and is mature enough to understand sexuality, what it means, and how it can be used in good and bad ways. Not after she’s learned about modesty, discretion, and consent. Not after she’s grown out of her impressionability and gullibility. Nope, she gets to take it all on now…as a little kid… who can easily be tricked, mislead, and used.
Perhaps you’ve noticed the change in a little girl’s attitude when she puts on something small and tight. I have. Sometimes it is a subtle switch in her walk or a look in her eye. Other times its a full-out transformation in her behavior. This is because she knows what she looks like, and worse, she knows what that means. Our daughters aren’t blind. They see, just like everyone else, how women’s bodies are used and displayed. They see that women are often treated more like things than people. They see how glitzy and sparkly it can look. They want in–unless we teach them to see what’s really there.
That’s sparkly glamour is an illusion. It’s thinly veiled oppression. As long as we’re busy putting our parts in the front window for the pleasure of men, we’ll never get to develop the parts of us that could truly benefit ourselves (and the rest of humanity). So, again, it’s not just about clothes and fashion. It’s about teaching young girls to not buy into the idea their bodies are to be used as tools for men’s sexual gratification.
Solutions and options
It’s important to note that my daughter hasn’t been reduced to wearing potato sacks. There are clothes out there that are not super tight and small. You just have to be willing to look.
- Burmuda shorts- Though the color and pattern options aren’t as varied, most stores sell burmuda shorts, which often come down to the knee or stop right above. I’ve noticed denim shorts are usually shorter and tighter than others, so maybe you’ll have more luck avoiding those altogether.
- Relaxed fit jeans- Most jeans are made to fit skinny these days, but you can find relaxed fit jeans that are fitted enough to stay up on a child’s small frame, but loose enough for them to breathe and move.
- Hi-low skirts- Not sure how long there will be around, but they are hot right now. They’re are longer in the back and usually come to at least knee length in the front.
- Leggings- I wouldn’t advising letting a little girl wear leggings as pants, but I’m all about a pair of leggings under a dress, skirt, or shorts. It allows them to be as active as they want without their little rooties showing!
- If all else fails, you can always take an old pair of pants and cut them into shorts. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can hem the bottom to cover the ragged edge, or you can simply roll it up and iron it down. Works for me!
- Last but not least, remember who’s paying the bills!- I know what it’s like to have a picky dresser, but I always have the final say when it comes to what gets purchased. I’ve heard some mothers say they’d like to buy longer and looser clothes, but their daughter won’t wear them… To that I say, “Woman up, mom!” She aint running nothing! Sure, she might get upset, she might even cry, but she won’t hate you, especially if the two of you have an on-going dialogue about what it means to be a young woman. I’m no dictator–it’s important for kids to have a say–but there is no way my child is walking out of the store in skimpy clothes I paid for. When I tell my daughter I’m not buying something, I always tell her why. Then I usually offer to buy something else instead. As a general parenting rule, I’d rather focus on what they can have instead of what they can’t.