Okay, so last week I wrote a column on how clothing manufacturers think little girls and their parents like hoochie-wear. I was a little nervous about running a piece that was more opinion than humor. I shouldn’t have worried. The paper didn’t end up running the column; my editor said that while she liked the piece, she likes my funny stuff better. So it looks like my station as humor columnist is secure. My future writing social commentary, not so much.
But here it is, blogworld—“Hoochie Wear” for your consumption. Proof that I am, indeed, a prude.
Just yesterday I was filling our pool with water when my four-year old daughter said, “Mom, someday can I wear sunglasses and sit by a swimming pool.”
“Why would you do that?” I asked, well aware that she had watched “Sandlot” just a little too closely.
“That’s what grownup girls do. I saw it on TV.”
“Well, I hope you swim more than you sit,” I said, and left it at that.
It’s only been the last couple months that I’ve noticed how sensitive my daughter is to the media and how it portrays women and young girls. The line between the two has blurred a lot since I was her age. It’s disconcerting. The swimming pool exchange was innocuous, but I know the older she gets the more problematic this issue will become.
This week I went to WalMart to buy her an extra swimming suit. She’ll be starting lessons next week and because I’m no laundry maven I knew she would need to alternate swimwear. Admittedly I was a little late in the season, but in the girls section I could only find one one-piece swimsuit. Of course it was in multiple sizes, but there was just one style to choose from. Everything else was two-piece (in multiple sizes AND styles). I’ll admit, when it comes to my daughter’s wardrobe I’m ultra-conservative. As long as I’m paying for her clothing, it will cover her belly, thank you very much. Needless to say, I was disappointed in WalMart’s scarce selection.
Shauna, Puh-lease, you beg. That’s what you’re worried about? Two-piece swimsuits? Well, yes and no. I’ve had that same experience countless times trying to find modest clothes for my young daughter. And in my mind’s eye, I’m shopping for the four-year old and the 16-year old Leah, because I know that what she shows off today will be difficult to cover-up tomorrow; simply put, I don’t want a bikini battle when she’s strong enough to win me in arm-wrestling.
What frustrates me most is that many clothing manufacturers (for the four and the 16-year olds) think we want to dress our daughters in hoochie-wear. Here’s a not-so-mild example. In 2002 Abercrombie and Finch released a line of thongs that would fit girls 7 to 12 years old. Thongs! In children’s sizes. On the front were the phrases “eye candy” and “wink wink.” Spokesperson for Abercrombie waved away criticism and said, “It’s cute and fun and sweet.”
Lest we believe that this type of merchandising doesn’t happen in conservative Idaho Falls, consider this: Upon shopping at the local Ross Dress for Less, my husband found a 6X t-shirt (a size typical for 6-year old girls) that read “Porn Star.”
Now I wouldn’t buy that shirt, nor would many of you reading this today. But the fact that someone made the shirt expecting people to buy it troubles me. The fact that a lot of the clothing available for young girls today is fast-tracking them to sexy also troubles me. What doesn’t trouble me? The fact that consumers can change everything. So I won’t settle for a bikini just because that’s all I’m offered. I’ll patronize the stores that sell clothing I believe is appropriate for my girl. And I’ll make it clear that regardless of what’s on the rack, we always have a choice, and in exercising that choice we’re telling clothing manufacturers what is and isn’t acceptable.