Both of these photos are from the same company (a company who’s adult and children’s clothing line I happen to dig). One shows elementary-aged children being children in children’s clothing. The other shows similar aged children in adult poses with weight-of-the world expressions on their faces as one of them wears outfits better suited for someone twice her age. At least, that’s my opinion.
I’ve gone back and forth on whether my issue with photo B is that the company would even put out a photo like this, or that our collective parental disposition has strayed so much that we might buy into this sort of image in an effort to dress up our children like mini-adults, or maybe it is simply that I don’t want my daughter to look anything like the little girl in the photo, let alone even see this photo. What’s wrong with a little girl looking like a little girl? Yeah, I’m looking at you and your recent mistep, Disney.
When I was in 1st and 2nd grade, all I cared about wearing was a pair of jeans that did not constrict me on the dodgeball court and maybe a cool pair of Hulk Underoos from the aunt at Christmastime. Even now, my 5 year old son doesn’t really care what he wears just as long as he can wear his Crocs. In the wintertime he is happy to adapt to the Southern California cold by adding a pair of socks to the mix, making the fashionistas in the Greater Los Angeles area cringe ever so slightly.
But it is my 3 year old daughter who is already putting together outfits and expressing strong opinions about what we pull off the hanger for something as mundane as a trip to the grocery store. So it is this impressionable sensibility that I feel, as her Daddy, I must guard.
My wife and I have tried to avoid overexposing her to the pink-gowned, blonde princess imagery saturating every girls’ section of every toy aisle. But as time passed, I’ve come to realize that she was just made this way. She naturally wanted to wear Mama’s jewelry and stumble around in her high-heels. And as much as I wrestle and play the give-and-take game, I ultimately remind myself that she is a little girl doing what most little girls inherently do – longing to dress like her image of a big girl and pretend she is in the fairytale. My daughter is who she is: a pink-lovin’, prince-wantin’ damsel in distress – who also happens to be the toughest, sandbox lovin’ little girl I’ve ever known.
So, with the help of my wife I stand back a bit, doing my best to shield our daughter from the constant objectification of women that permeates our society, and trusting that she will keep doing her thing. Individualism is natural, but the older we get, so is the desire to “fit in”. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, she just needs to be a kid. I need that.
But when the time comes that she may want to emulate a runway model or Seventeen cover girl, I suspect she’ll be old enough to use her allowance to buy her own clothing… and I’ll be standing on the side with an outgrown princess gown in hand, hoping in vain that she comes running back to her daddy to be his little girl.
– Just a friendly reminder to find us here on Pinterest where we have a board for the Raising an Aware Child series with all sorts of cool stuff. Or, share your thoughts on our Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you, parents!