*This is in response to LZ Granderson’s article titled, “Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps”
First, I love that this article was written by a Dad. My father may not have liked my clothing choices, but it was my Mom that took me shopping and was there in the morning when I got dressed for the day. Kudos for this Dad being not only involved, but vocal.
Now on to my daughter. Makayla, “Kay” will be 9 on the 28th of this month. She is a Tom Boy one moment, out in the dirt and collecting bugs, slugs, and salamanders. She wears old clothes, climbs trees and doesn’t care what is going on with her hair. The next day she is a Fashionista, coming down the stairs in her latest outfit creation. She loves “pretty things” and colors.
Her favorite thing to do when in a store is to go straight to the clothing section and look at the clothes. We don’t have to be buying anything, she just likes to see what’s new, touch it all, and comment with her reviews. Most Mom’s wouldn’t entertain this side trip while in a store. They have other things to get and places to be, but this time is important to me. This is when the door for what’s appropriate is opened for conversation and I will take every opportunity to have her attention.
Kay will hold up a shirt that is a little slinky looking. I’m able to look at it, agree that the colors are great, but talk about how the shirt was cut and that it shows too much. Then, we look for an alternative pick. We do this over and over and over time, what I am saying is sinking in. She now holds up an item and tells me if SHE thinks it’s right. I know a lot of parents may look at this as a waste of time. They would rather just tell their kids “no” or “Because I said so” and be done with it. The problem with that is, it only works for now. Sure, I can tell my daughter that, but what happens when I don’t get a say anymore? What happens when she has her own money and can do what she wants? I don’t want her to EVER dress like that, not even when she is 30. I know she will make her own choices someday, but I want those choices to be base on something more than a “trend”. I hope that the time I spend with her, the long talks we share, and the example I set will not only give her confidence, but that it will teach her to have class.
What scares me the most is the attention these girls want or the attention their parents want/allow them to have. The whole words across the butt thing is just stupid. Why do you want someone reading words on your child’s butt!? Some are quick to say, “Oh, it’s just a fashion trend!” That’s crap. When we get dresses in the morning, we are saying something about ourselves. If we iron our clothes, no matter how basic they are, it says we care about our appearance. If we put on something we feel is pretty, we feel pretty. We teach our children this by example and our conversations about clothing.
There are basic rules in our house about what you wear.
1. It has to be clean, wrinkle free
2. It has to fit
3. It has to be suitable for the day’s weather/activities
4. It has to be appropriate and NOT a distraction when a school day.
1. – 3. is self-explanatory. 4. can be hard. I don’t know how many days Kay has come down the stairs with a sequined scarf or large accessories. These are distractions at school and have to be explained to her that even though it is very “fun”, it can be a distraction in class for her and other students who need to be focusing on learning, not your 50 silly bands up your arm. She may not like it, but she understands it.
Brat Dolls were also banned from the beginning. My daughter wanted one and we went and looked at them. I will never forget standing in a toy aisle looking at a doll in “stage make-up”, fish net stockings, and tight revealing clothes . It was right next to Polly Pocket. Wow. I told Kay that they weren’t appropriate and she was devastated. I hated telling her no, but what I hated more is that other parents didn’t see it as a big deal. I’ve had other Mom’s tell me that they are just dolls and their daughters treat them as just that and would never be influenced by them. I’ll respect that, but if I don’t want my daughter to dress or act that way, why would I give her a doll that does?
I do not agree with the way so many of these young girls are dressing. And sadly, it isn’t their fault. It is the parents responsibility to teach a child, to set an example, and to give them self-esteem. It takes years of repetition and constantly being involved. I know there will be many disagreements about clothing between my daughter and I. I know there will be times where I just say, “no”. But, at least there has been an ongoing conversation about it. I can only hope that the things we talk about will stay with her for the day she is in the store by herself standing in front of a tube top labeled, “dress”.