In the dressing room of a clothing store, I couldn’t help but overhear a mom, grandma
and miniature fashionista in the room next to me. They were doing their annual back-to-school
The mom and grandma were going back and forth with, “how cute!” as the young girl would cheer, “I love it!” And then just like it was taken out of my stockpile of back-to-school shopping memories, the mom and grandma repeatedly told the girl, “Now remember, you can’t wear this until school starts.”
I was trying not to laugh out loud.
As I was reminiscing, and frankly, missing that my mom and grandma weren’t there to tell me “how cute!” I looked and buy the pile of clothing sitting in front of me, something caught my attention.
After trying another outfit on and telling mom and grandma that it was “her favorite!” they both
replied, “No, it is too tight and not appropriate.” You can imagine the response of a pre-teen not getting the outfit that she imagined would win the friendship of the popular girls and the hearts of the boys.
But, the mom and grandma stuck to it.
I look forward to the days of school shopping with my daughter, and while I don’t look forward to unleashed diva tantrums (which I fully deserve for what I did to my parents), this mom and grandma encouraged me that even though saying “no” will put you at war with society and with your own child at times, you are beginning to shape their self-worth and building a guard against social pressures.
“Girls are under enormous pressures…Today’s little girls are being enticed to grow up too fast and are encountering challenges for which they are totally unprepared,” wrote Dr. James Dobson.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, girls begin to worry about their body image as early as five and six-years-old. 40 percent of nine-and-ten-year-old girls have attempted to lose weight and by fifteen, more than 60 percent will use destructive methods to losing weight such as anorexia and bulimia. Yes, there are little kindergarteners becoming anorexic and wanting to look “sexy.”
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that thinks this is OK and is pumping promiscuity to our young children.
In 2011, Science Daily published that out of fifteen popular US stores selling children’s clothing, 30 percent of that clothing was defined as “sexualizing.” For example, the store Abercrombie Kids marketed little girls' thongs printed with suggestive slogans, a push-up bra bikini for 8-year-olds and little girls’ yoga pants named "cute butt yoga sweat pants.”
Children aren’t buying these items – parents are. Therefore it is our responsibility to teach them about modesty and true beauty and not give in to the frustration or empathy that can take over. Fathers, it is up to you whether your daughter leaves the house how she is dressed.
The American Psychological Association warns that sexualizing children leads to eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. By setting a standard and enforcing it, even if it causes an unleashed diva tantrum in the H&M dressing room – that will be easier than trying to boost your teenager’s self-esteem later.
I plan on fighting this battle in order to build up my daughter’s self-worth and confidence. I will fight because I don’t want my five, ten or even fifteen-year-old to be considered “sexy” or attract the lustful attention and a lot of the time, the unintended attention of boys and men – attention that can be a matter of her safety.
For someone like me who enjoys fashion – this is doubly hard. I not only need to think about the
message I am sending by what I am picking out for my daughter to wear, but even more so, I need to think about what I am wearing.
While I will try to be a hip-and-modest momma and lay down the dress code law, I know at times I will fail. This is where a relationship with God giving us mother’s strength and wisdom, and giving our children instruction and an image of grace and true beauty will take root.
As seen in The News-Review, Aug. 19 2012
Dobson, Dr. James. Bringing Up Girls.