My typical day at the mall consists not only of failing to find skinny jeans that let me live up to their name, but also walking by children’s department at Nordstrom’s and scoffing. It is there where I see ultra-hip mothers buy their 7-year-old daughters matching Louis Vuitton purses and junior string bikinis. Disturbed by the fact that that 7-year-old’s crayon-stained purse is worth more then what’s in my bank account, I walk over to the shoe department in remembrance of a Sesame Street past.
Up until about the third-grade, my mother dressed me. She would lay out coordinated corduroys and turtlenecks with snowmen on them on my bed each night and I would blindly wear them to school the next day without protest.
And then one day, appearance started to matter.
Prompted by my older sister, who had just entered the lip-glossed inferno that is middle school, I all of a sudden felt the need to escape “cute.” I needed to be “sexy.”
Now in the third-grade, sexy meant t-shirts with rhinestones on them and hot pink jelly shoes. Neither of which my sophisticated mother would buy for me, no matter how much I begged. Alas, I was stuck wearing snowmen turtlenecks until the day I entered middle school, when my sister awarded me with flashy prepubescent hand-me-downs.
Here’s where I give my mother credit:
Mom, thank you for being square and uptight when it comes to pre-teen fashion. Thank you for forcing me to remain wholesome for as along as MTV would allow you. It is because of your refusal to let me shop at Limited Too that I have yet to make an appearance on the “Maury” show.
I wasn’t allowed to show cleavage until I graduated from training bras, or wear low-rise jeans until I had hips to hug. And rightfully so.
In our oversexed society, the concept of little girls as pure is slowly dwindling. Call it a “Lolita complex” or just an excuse for clothing companies to use less fabric, children’s clothing gets more revealing each time the Disney Channel releases a new original movie. Little girls, desperate to become teenagers, are missing out on the act of growing up.
Mothers who encourage or even provoke their young daughters to be trendy in elementary school are promoting not only superficiality at a young age, but low self-esteem as well. I say, let your kids be carefree while they are still short enough to jump in the ball pit at McDonalds.
Here I am at the mall again, this time buying grown-up clothes for my summer internship at a news magazine in D.C. As I muddle through blazers and pencil skirts, I struggle to make the distinction between high heels that make you look slutty and high heels that make you look professional. I opt for ballet flats, and set off to replace the fourth pair of stockings I’ve managed to rip this week.
Despite my professional endeavors, on my own time I still doggedly hold on to my doodled-on Converse All Stars and intentionally-ripped blue jeans. At 20 years old, my everyday outfit still screams “teenager.” These business casual get-ups are a façade; a manifestation of my desperate attempt to become a “successful” adult.
Like that little girl abandoning her teddy bear socks for jelly shoes, I’m just playing dress-up too.