Demonic Store, I Rebuke Thee - Redux

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In February 2006, I wrote a blog post to a store. A store that my then 7 year old daughter had been eyeing hopefully from across the mall where I purchased expensive and entirely body covering clothing. A store which sold no items with logos that were not appropriate for 7 year old girls.

The other store was exciting with it's pop music blaring out of the doorway. It had fun and glittery things dangling in the windows. It held out the fruit to passerbys, front and center.

"Come in", It whispered. "It's Fun".

As the mother of my daughter, I held firm. No. No Juicy logos. No "Sweet" on sweatpants bottoms, and no cherries on shirts. Nope. Sorry.

There has been a rather popular post on CNN in which a father decries seeing a young girl dressed way above her age in an airport.  I laughed when I saw it.  It didn't vary in tone from my plea in 2006, and there was certainly no new information to my mind.

I have been fighting this fight with my daughter since she developed her own sense of what she liked...round about 2006.  And while Yes, I am the Mom and the bottom line is that it is my cash which pays for the clothing on her backside...It must be more than that.

We must be having conversations with our daughters about WHY the clothing isn't appropriate; About WHY we object to their sexualization and the media images with which they are bombarded.

We are the parents and we can say No...but we must also explain our "No". Not justify it, but explain it.

Clothes Shopping with the one-month-from-being-13 Emily is EXHAUSTING.  You think shopping with a Toddler is exhausting?  Think again, because it is a walk in the freaking park compared to the soul draining experience of trying to find a bathing suit that my daughter likes AND covers all of her.

It makes me want to cry AND drive to the homes of these clothes designers to pummel them. All I can say is Thank You LL Bean for having functional bathing suits.

In our shopping, Emily Knows the Rules.  Nothing with Logos that are "Off Color" in tone - and that includes Nubile Fox Characters on the Old Navy T-Shirts. Nothing that has a deep V neck.  Nothing that Doesn't cover her ass, and keep it covered. She can tell you with a glance if something will be ruled "not appropriate" by either parent.

While she is a Young Woman - and I acknowledge that fact while weeping into my gin and tonic - she still deserves to be free to play.  Worrying about a belly shirt, or skirt riding up does not need to be her concern.

We, her Parents, protect her childhood by monitoring her wardrobe. She accepts this because we have done all of the work to explain the rationale behind our decisions.

Does she still ask about buying her clothes that she knows we will say "No" to buying? Of course. As I tell Terrance - Her job is to Ask. Our job is to hold the line.

Five years after I originally wrote this post, I can confidently say that I think we've done an OK job:

Dear “Limited Too”,

I write you this letter as a heartfelt plea. Do not lure my daughter into your store. Stop putting up window displays which catch her eye. Desist in the use of spangles and dangly things.

I had occasion to look upon your storefront this weekend, while shopping for emergency “no heat” clothes. Let me make this clear, Limited Too, my daughter is a Gymboree and Hannah Andersson girl. Occasionally we see something at Children’s Place, GapKids, or Old navy that appeals to our clothing sense of fun and frivolity.

Please keep your dammed dirty ape hands off of my daughter, Limited Too. My daughter is not a small Paris Hilton wannabe, who routinely wears glitter flip-flops to events. No, Limited Too, my daughter wears Gymboree lines named “Winter Princess” and “Petite Fleur”. She does not wear tank tops with “Too Hot for You” emblazoned across her non existent bosom, or “Sweet” across her bottom.

I know, Limited Too, that she is growing tired of my clothing choices as her Mommy. I saw the way she looked at my suggestions in Gymboree on Saturday. I also saw how her eyes lit up as she spied your bounty of temptation, two stores away.

However, I must insist, Limited Too, You are not to see my daughter. She is only seven and is in no way prepared for the type of relationship you are accustomed to having. Oh, I have seen the store, with it’s racks of makeup and ultra mini skirts. I have seen the thong underwear for girls and the “barely there” bikini’s.

Spare her, Limited Too. She is too young. There are many other little girls whose mothers are perfectly content to let them tart it up, but not me. I will not stand for this, Limited Too.

And you know what, Limited Too? I’m not the only mother who feels this way. I am not above getting a mother gang together and opening a can of unholy whoop ass upon you and your ilk. You will not lead my daughter or her friends into the world of “Wild On Tara Reid”.

You’ve been warned, Limited Too. You’ve been warned. I’ve got my eye on you. And my people have excellent credit, and aren't afraid to use it elsewhere.

4 Baleful Regards:

amira said...

I had literally just closed the tab to the CNN article you're referring to after reading it before reading this post.

As always, I found a nugget of wisdom I hadn't considered before, and in this case it's the importance of explaining why not, rather than just saying no.

We're expecting a girl and I have a slew of concerns on how to protect her from societal pressures--it's so different raising a boy.

RavenRead said...

"Her job is to Ask. Our job is to hold the line."

THIS!! Much to my chagrin I'm not a parent, but I know some and I've observed a whole many more, and this is the key. She's so lucky you know this.

Last weekend I walked by padded bras in Kohls in the 'girls' section. I just about keeled over.

Laura said...

As the mother of a little girl (only 2 years old) I wholeheartedly agree with you! I cannot believe some of the clothes out there. Even for my daughter's age - who wants their toddler to look like a sex worker?? I don't get it. I agree that it is our job to "hold the line". I wish more parents realized that they do retain this power. Though I imagine in just a few years my job will become much more difficult!

Dawn said...

Amira - First Congratulations!

AS to the explaining, I admit that in Terrance's family there is less emphasis on the explaining. However, I explain to Emily not because I am trying to "win" her to my side, but because I know that she is going to have to live a life without Me.

Every step we take moves her more into "The World", beyond my sphere of influence. I can only hope that when she is Out, as an older teen, that my explanations will echo in her decision making.

Becky, Em doesn't stop from Asking - from ridiculous heels, to lip balm to Shirts that I consider to racy for her. That is her job - to seek out the parameters of her parents authority And she executes this job with great expertise. Usually with a final warning that if she asks One more time, then we are leaving with nothing.

Padded bras? Snort. As if.

Laura, it will get more difficult - Em sometimes asks me about things her classmates are sporting. She is in a school with a uniform, so it is rarely Clothing - but it IS red nail polish ( a Not appropriate for You in our house) Or Big Hoop earrings or eyeshadow.

She knows that her choices are for a pale pink,clear, glitter, blue, green or even coral nail polish...But not red. No dangle earrings. No makeup. Lip Balm? Sure. Gloss? Um, no.

Terrance and I were talking last night and I pointed out that I, myself, am pretty low maintenance when it comes to makeup etc. It isn't that I am not attractive, but I don't "put on a show" every time I leave the house.

In sum, I am not talking from both sides of my mouth to Emily. I am not telling her Not to portray herself in One way, and then Presenting myself in the way I am telling her is not acceptable.

And this is where I find the "meat" of this idea - Where is the line between where we - as adult women - retain as a right to present ourselves...and what we want to enforce on/for our daughters?

It seems to me that Mothers have to consider the image they present to the world simultaneously. And I am not suggesting that Mothers don't have the right to be attractive and even sexy - but I think there is a line there.

I'm just not entirely sure how to explain it. I am very tired today and it has been a ridiculously LONG day, but I think it has to do with my conflicting ideas about the rights of women to portray themselves in any way they desire ( which I do hold this idea) - and the knowledge that the decision about their image that Adult women can handle is not the same for a child.

And Now I am stopping because I have NO idea if that made sense at all.

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