On Being Fashion Police for Our Daughters

Penny and I were, on a rare occasion, casually strolling by ourselves through a department store looking for a few things for our girls to wear. I passed by a rack of clothing in the shorts department, and then another… and I noticed an alarming trend. Because I have no sense of how kids’ clothing sizes work (and don’t even get me started on kids’ shoe sizes) I asked Penny, “How old are the girls that buy and wear these shorts?” She looks at a couple of tags and told me with a serious face, “Well, the shorts on these racks are sized to fit girls between 7 and 16 years old.”

I dropped my jaw and found myself just…… angry. 

But I didn’t know, at the time, with whom I should be angry.

  • The fashion designers?
  • The clothing manufacturers?
  • The retail stores?
  • The parents who buy these shorts for their kids?
  • The teachers and mentors who allow such shorts to be worn…anywhere?
  • The kids who want to wear such clothing and promote the look as popular?

You know, I’m 47 years old. And I realize just by virtue of the fact that I use the word “hip” when I tell you that I am not “hip” anymore, that I am indeed not at all “hip”…anymore. Or cool. Or the bomb (?), etc. I realize that I am becoming my father and he told me and my brother and sisters that we would understand one day, when we had children of our own, why he wouldn’t let us bring to fruition many of the hair-brained, stupid ideas that we constantly conjured up in our little heads. Those days are here now and I am discovering more fully every day that my dad was a genius!

So who’s to blame? Who deserves the weight of my anger and frustration and disbelief? A short, true story may illustrate…

When I was in college, I worked for a little copy shop downtown and one day we got an order to design and print some small table tents for a local restaurant for that evening’s special on “Crab Cakes.” (By the way, I know it seems very convenient for the purposes of my story, but it’s a true story, so I must confess that I was out of town when this series of events occurred and only got the story when I returned.)

The rush order was taken at the front desk from the restaurant representative. As far as we know the order was taken correctly at that time. The order went to the desktop publishing department where it was typeset in all caps and set 2 to a page. The job was then photocopied onto neon yellow card stock, trimmed down and folded into table tents. The delivery person picked up the order and delivered it to restaurant about 6 blocks away. A waiter received the finished table tents and immediately distributed them around all the tables in the restaurant. Within minutes it had to be a customer of this popular dining establishment to point out what a half-dozen people had missed – that all the bright neon yellow table tents happily informed shocked customers that the special fare of the evening was indeed “CRAP CAKES!”  Let’s just say that it all rolled downhill from there…

I do remember the next staff meeting was not pretty, but it pointed out the answer to my earlier questions – EVERYONE is to blame. Because at any point in the process, someone had an opportunity to stop the horrible wrong that was being carried along by blind or uncaring worker bees.

And so it is for this fashion monstrosity.  I’m interested in opinions and solutions that others might have on the topic. For me and my house? Well, we certainly won’t be buying any shorts like this for our eight- and ten-year-old girls, so… voting with our dollars and all that. I will be going to department store managers to start a dialogue on what they think about their own children wearing these type of clothes. I’m still working on the rest of The Plan…

The Bible calls us to modesty in I Timothy 2:9 – “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety,…” I know this makes me sound like one of the “black and white guys” in the movie Pleasantville with their seemingly unreasonable set of rules, but we have to protect our children from being seen as sex objects. I affects their view of us as parents, of themselves in their own eyes and the eyes of others. How can we change a culture to have them respect their bodies?

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