Anyone else find it slightly disturbing when seeing 13-14 year olds who could almost pass for 18? Alright, let’s rephrase this. So as an 18 year old, when I see people a lot younger than me, who also sort of look my age, it does make me feel a little uneasy. But deep down, we all know it is pretty sad that young teenagers are feeling this pressure to dress as if they are a lot older in the first place. And while of course there are going to be a good number of reasons for this, it doesn’t help that shops seem to be filled with clothing geared toward young children.
It All Starts From When you were Young
I imagine we have all seen it. Slightly short and very sparkly dresses, punchy pink ballet pumps, and tops which show half of someone’s mid section. All being sold in the under 12s area. Yeah, I know… However, after reading this post, this will sound like nothing… For instance, do you think that it is safe, not to mention practical for 8 year olds to be wearing 3 inch heels. It is certainly not appropriate when padded bras and padded bikini tops are sold for pre-puberty aged children, not to mention the “future hag” Te-shirt which was sold in Primark’s kids section. Just as one Mum states, “most daughters want to aspire a little more than to being a hag”. Especially when they are (hopefully) too young to know the meaning of such words…
What Actually Caused this
Obviously I don’t really have any idea as to what children’s clothing looked like 40 years ago, but I would imagine that it was; well, let’s use the term more practical compared to what it is now. But there has got to be a reason for this change. For a start, due to the “tech savvy” and “visual” world we are living in now, there is that bit more pressure on parents to be taking “nice pictures” of their children, to show them to friends. Which has never been easier than before, due to easily being able to post anything online where the pictures are likely to reach more than just the parent’s close friends. Along with “reality stars” and all sorts of adverts, be it online or on TV, this enhances the pressure on parents to go out and find the “right” clothing for their children. And with cheaper alternatives, which stores like Primark have to offer, it means that most parents don’t really have an excuse. Therefore in time, it only makes sense that children will be influenced by their parents buying habits, as well as images the children themselves are exposed to from a really young age. Meaning in time, they will naturally become more aware of, and choose to pay more attention to their appearance, leading to them to want to start picking out their own outfits …
But When does this Become a Problem?
The obvious argument for there being an increase in proportion of these rather “mature” clothes, would be because this is what the public want, therefore the market is going to have to respond. Nevertheless we know there have been, well “accidents”, where online brands have got it wrong, and have instead brought out something which is actually really inappropriate.
But if parents want their children to look pretty, then while these “accidents” are pretty gross, at the same time, a young girl wearing a short skirt really shouldn’t be seen as so problematic. Because they are of course far too young to be sexualised. Yet at least one Mum will disagree! She didn’t like the fact that these dresses were “slutty”, but she also stated that it wasn’t just about the dress in itself, but it was also about the way the model was “in a sexy pose, with tonnes of makeup.” Sadly this is just one of many times where in many cases very young girls have been sexualised. And while a model is a model, the poor girl shouldn’t have to be posing inn this manner considering her age, and it sends out a really negative message to other girls who may see this advert. Not helping how they view themselves, now or as they get older, and not helping with how young boys, then men may see them.
Makes life harder in other ways
It makes my teeth grind, when I hear about so many schools prohibiting the younger years from wearing short shorts, vest tops and other items of clothing, on non uniform days. Including outings where the weather is hot, and there is a lot of exercise involved. Because these are literally practical items off clothing, therefore what kind off message does it send out for these young children? Because of this, it makes it increasingly difficult for young girls and then young women to be able to dress for themselves, due to the fear they will only be viewed sexually.
To Sum up
To sum up, I hope you can see why the market for kids clothing (especially for girls), is so problematic. Yet it really shouldn’t have to be. A large part of the inappropriateness seen and possibly unintentionally incorporated into the design of some of these items, is a wider reflection of the society we are in. With the hypersexualisation of many women, as well as the enhanced pressures to be keeping up with trends.
From saying this, it is also understandable as to why parents may want their children to dress up from time to time, yet the fact that a campaign, was even launched by “mumsnet” called “Let girls be girls”, calling on retailers not to sell inappropriate products, shows that parents really do not wish for their children to be sexualised. And after all, it shouldn’t be down to parents to have to complain when big brands seem to mess up. It should be down to the brands to ensure that no girls get shown in a provocative manner, and that “accidents” really should be spotted before the clothes get sold.