The State of Children’s Clothes

Today I was walking through JC Penney, one of the stops on my search for a minifridge, and I saw a dress that caused me to pause. It was red, lacy, think maybe a high-low cut skirt. It was cute, something I would wear. Then I realized something; I was in the girls’ section, not even the juniors. Look over to the boys’ across the way and their clothes look age appropriate, the girls’…well, it all caused my to cringe.

A while ago I had read something comparing some short that are meant for a young girl and ones meant for a young boy, the boy’s most definitely longer and more age appropriate. The girl’s shorts were…well, they wouldn’t meet the ‘usual’ fingertip rule. The change happened after the children would get out of toddler clothes and, suddenly, girl’s shorts get shorter, and their dresses get to look more ‘grown up’. The clothes are meant for a figure the girls would not have as of yet, let alone a certain maturity. The clothes, even the non-dresses, clearly are not meant for playing, climbing, getting dirty. You know, things kids do. It looked as if, if you wanted to afford the young girl a chance to get dirty without ruining her nice clothes, you’d have to buy her what is counted as boys’ clothes. Now, I could get into the whole argument about segregating certain clothing articles, but I won’t because that’s a whole other thing. What I’m looking at as of the moment is how girls tend to, recently, have clothes that make them seem more grown up.

Often times people wonder why kids dress like they do now, mostly girls mind you (though sagging pants is awful for guys of any age, too), and why these girls try to pretend they are grown. When I was young, of course I liked to pretend I was older, but I still dressed like a kid. I had pants that weren’t tight, t-shirts, running shoes that may have lit up, and so on. Basically, besides the preferred colors and cartoon characters, my brother and I dressed the same. There were differences, of course, like I had some clothes (based on what selections were available, mind you) that were bejeweled, more often pink, and generally ‘lighter’ more ‘feminine’ colors. My brother had no such choices, not that he wanted those clothes, but still. There was still sex segregation, but none of my clothes, or dresses, look like they are made now.

I couldn’t find the dress I had seen, but this one I’m adding below is just as bad.

Girl Dress

It’s labeled for girls ages 7-16. Now, 16 isn’t that bad, but 7? What seven year old needs to/wants to dress like they’re about to go to a business meeting? The belt, too, looks like it’s meant to accentuate hips, which most seven year old do not have. Some do, yes, but not most. Though, I will admit, the belt is just a nice tie-in when it comes to the top and bottom halves of the dress. I’m not sure on the ruffles at the top, but that could just be me, I know. The bottom half, that on the other hand, is looking to be tight. Most seven year old girls are still hyper little balls of energy. How the hell is that skirt going to allow for much movement? I think I may be right in saying that it won’t. It looks nice, don’t get me wrong, if it came in my size I would probably wear it. But that’s the thing. I shouldn’t want to wear what is meant for little girls.

There seems to be more of a blending between older and younger girl clothes recently. Ones meant for women my age generally accentuate certain areas of the body, which can be nice if you want that. Whereas girl’s clothes used to be more along the liens of what boy’s clothes look like; meant for running around, getting dirty, rather shapeless to fit in with the fact girls do not have curves until after puberty. (And, if you’re like me, you have little, subtle curves that take a bit to reveal.) But, now, girl’s clothes seem to fall more inline with what society deems ‘appropriate’ for older women; not running around, no dirt, no playing with worms, no climbing trees. And, if you do those things, you probably have to do some work to find clothes that would work for that or, as dreaded by most little girls who think boys are ‘icky’, wandering into the boy’s section. I hated simply standing in the boy’s section when I was little, and if that mentality carries over to now, well, that makes things difficult.

It really makes one wonder about our current thoughts of girl’s, and with all the attention on how women are decided upon based on their looks more often than not…it’s a bit disheartening to see this early sexualization of children. Especially little girls. We have dress codes that, in some, explicitly state that the dress code is meant so that boys will not be distracted. Because guys can’t handle their base desires, and girls are clearly responsible if someone decides to lay an unwanted hand, or more, on them. But how can one expect a girl to follow these rather awful rules (a running joke amongst my friends, guys and girls, in public middle and high school was ‘ooh, girl, look at that sexy shoulder. Gotta get me some’ just to give some perspective if the clothes are made to show off what most girls below the age of 13 do not have? yes, I am aware girls are maturing, physically faster due to various possibilities, but that doesn’t mean they have to dress ‘older’. If I had a daughter, you can bet I’d learn how to make clothes or drag her to the boy’s aisle if I didn’t find anything that seemed appropriate.

Basically, how these little adult ideologies are trickling down to children’s clothes is a little disheartening. I want to walk past clothes meant for a seven year old and think ‘cute, adorable’, not ‘if they had that in my size…’

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ntdc
    Nov 29, 2014 @ 09:57:59

    The last time I had my son here and we went shopping for some clothes, which we usually did in the H&M kid´s section, we had to change to men´s, he´s too tall now with 14 for kid´s sizes…I can´t remember when we, that is my brother and me, had to change, if it had been later then or not. However we often couldn´t find anything for him in kid´s section, as much as I tried to ‘sell’ the stuff I like but don´t wear myself like Darth Vader t-shirts and pjs 😛 to him, he didn´t want stuff like that since , years I guess, now, he´s very much for ‘plain’ things, dark colours too, we resented buying him black jackets and stuff some time because of safety on the streets issues you know and because one feels kids shouldn´t ‘dress dark’, but finally gave in. Not such an issue with boys like what you describe of course. I´m not really sure what to think of stuff on young girls that looks about they are dressed up to get a date on the playground or something. Case of well it looks pretty and we live in a free society where everone can express themselves with clothes like they want to and who gets bad thoughts has a dirty mind? Or brainwashed mothers (Sorry if this seems sexist, but I think it´s the mothers who are responsible for what kids wear apart from kids who grow up with a single parent=father)? I was rather shocked actually when I some day went to a department store with my son to get him a pj, pjs, underwear, socks, all that stuff was in the same small spot for boys and girls, and they had underwear sets for definitely small girls, not the only kind I knew exists, same for both, pants+ tank top, but pants+some bra-like-thing. The same kind of underwear for girls I mentioned – I know that´s what many little girls wear as ‘swimsuit’, and that already since long, so guess there´s actually not much difference or novelty in wearing something like that as underwear too, still, I found it creepy) I don´t know, I´d never dress a daughter if I had one, in some things I see on little girls, especially not high(er) heels! And if her mother would have done I´m pretty sure that would have been something I´d have put up a fight for. Sadly, yes, I do see girls where I actually think ‘I hope nobody is going to stalk her on her way home from school and someone should slap sense into their parents/mother’. That said, I think there are enough shops that have ‘normal’ kid´s clothes for both girls and boys and it´s the choice of the parents (mothers) what they buy for their daughters obviously below a certain age. So the question I think is ‘why tf do they do that’ or ‘why do we think it´s bad’? Are they somehow so brainwashed by media that they not only think a woman can´t ever be too thin but that a ‘woman’ can´t start early enough to look like one? Or are the parents who dress them/let them dress like that so under the thumb of their kids (and the kids influenced so much by what their idols in the media wear?) that they comply? Or is it actually all harmless and it´s just that we all learned to oversexualize ‘things’ too much? And are our more ‘artificial’ newer times rules/laws for when-are-children-adults/sex/drinking/driving/etc right, or is it more natural that the tendency goes backwards, or should it, ideally, be completely individual-based? But that on a more general level. Dressing children who can´t cope with the reactions that such clothes might, and will, provoke, themselves, is a definite no from my own POV. If their mothers like sexy/adult clothing, they can go buy it for themselves, not for their girls.

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    • Deidre
      Dec 02, 2014 @ 05:14:24

      Hm, I’ll give you the point on it mostly being mothers who pick out clothes and such, least it has been so in my experience. So, yes, it’s a bit to do with mothers, I suppose, but fathers, too, going with thinking it’s no ‘big deal’, at least for the younger children as of the moment; their parent(s) probably grew up without thinking much of these clothes, and how that it might not be exactly appropriate for children. Maybe mostly due to society’s…shift in some things and how certain things have been getting to lower ages, perhaps partly thanks to things being taught sooner which leads to people thinking the children are having to be ‘grown ups’ anyhow, so what harm could certain clothes do? And with technology, children are outside less, for the most part, and instead doing things that allow for these clothes. That’s not an excuse, it’s simply a possibility, which is rather sad when one thinks about it. But it’s not ‘just’ one parent or the other, unless the child only has one parent, it’s both. One may buy, but the other doesn’t say anything or says ‘you look great’ and so on.
      Can’t say I’m sure on what the reason is, since it could be a mix of many different things. The only thing I can say for myself is that…society is changing, and it doesn’t seem so pretty to me really.

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  2. ntdc
    Dec 02, 2014 @ 07:33:29

    I could at least go into the very reasonable reasons of which men often choose to not put up a fight over stuff with their women ;), but that would lead too far from the topic now, so I just say that of course ideally they should say something against the mothers deciding to dress their girls like that. I´m not so sure that society is changing on a general level, or only changing back to what it was like some day, and still is in some places and cultures, you´re aware there are still people who marry their daughters in school age off to grown-up men, I guess. But yes, seems that some ‘unspoken conventions’ like dresscodes for children in some places are changing. Though still, I think it´s a minority going for that and don´t think that will ever become a major trend, I just can´t imagine many parents want or will want their girls to look like tiny business women or oversexualized. Doesn´t excuse the manufacturers of such items in my eyes though, doesn´t seem so pretty to me to exploit the ‘fashion-sense’ of some people on the backs of their children. But I better spend my next coffee break on a blog I guess, at least the inner life and motivations of my own fictional characters are something I can say anything of real importance and of certainty to 😛

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    • Deidre
      Dec 05, 2014 @ 03:40:24

      And as I said, some fathers probably see as little wrong with it as the mothers, not ‘just’ them saying nothing.
      But, yes, I’d like to think it’s a minority as you’ve said, but from what I have seen it is not so much…made all the more larger because of the designers making and the stores selling such items that do not seem age-appropriate. That leads to something being in trend and when one child has something, another will want it, as these things go. It’s really hard to pinpoint this sort of thing, I think.
      And yes, whenever in doubt, always write a blog lol Always love the things you write, and that’s not the only reason I’m supporting blog-writing 😛

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