Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hoochie Wear

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.


Absolutely Bananas said...

it's too bad your editor didn't run the piece because I think it's very well done. what you describe is a huge problem. i don't understand it. And THONGS for young girls? I'm so mortified I can't even think what to say. SHAME SHAME SHAME ON THEM!!!

Erin said...

I really like this piece. It's what we are all thinking-those of us who have young children and are trying hard to find something to cover them up with. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE!

Mr. Smith Goes to Delhi said...

I am so glad to know I am not the only one who noticed this at Wal-Mart! I have 5 daughters and my frustration with the clothing buyers at Wal-Mart runs deep. The T-shirts for Juniors are terrible. While shopping for my 12 year old daughter I saw so many awful slogans I couldn't believe it. The worst said, "My boyfriend's back" on one side, and "Get dressed" on the other! At that point I went to the boys section and bought her a t-shirt with a Whoppers logo. One of the pluses to living in India is that you can always find modest clothing!

Kristi said...

PREACH it Sista!!!! I am with you all the way.I have a 16 year old daughter and its tough out there in the trenches finding clothing that she will wear. At this point at Ross is all 70s throwbacks that are skimpy at best. I love Old Navy for the most part but even at the you have to be careful. My daughter is just shy of 6 foot so we choose tankinis for swimwear and she has 4 or 5. But they are all conservative and covering. There are no triangle suits in our home. I tend to lean to name brands like polo or tommy for jeans because they lean towards the boyfriend look and that is baggier and not sking tight. We don't do any novelty tshirts, thanksfully she isn't into them, but its difficult shopping to find something that "new" and not paris hiltonish. you know? I am so glad you are concerned with how your sweetie looks now at a young age it will make a huge difference later on.

LikeAstaR said...

I COULD NOT agree more. I think that it is a shame tha tyour editor would not run it. It is SO very important for us to raise our voices in opposition to something that we believe is inappropriate. If we won't, who will? Too many people think that the problem is either irrelevant, or too big to solve. I am all for your boycott.. or support of stores with similar values as me! Thanks for the OP-Ed and way to go!

Gustogirl said...

I completely agree with everything you said. Especially the part about dressing your daughter modestly now to instill good habits! Obviously young girls don't have anything to show off yet, but what we buy them when they are young will have an impact on what they wear later. I just hate that they are trying to make our little girls grow up too fast. I was appalled when I was at Target the other day because they had a girl who could not have been more the 8 or 9(It was the girls section for pete' sake) and she had red lipstick on and eyeliner and mascara!!!) My daughter will not wear makeup until she is at least in juniors.
Let's hear it for us prudes!!!!

shauna said...

Thanks, ladies! I love to see so many of us prudes out there. With a fair share of conservative mommies, why isn't there a fair share of conservative, yet fashionable, clothing for girls? There's got to be a way to change that!

pinks & blues girls said...

I could not agree with you more!

The other day at the beach I saw a girl, who could not have been more than 12, walking around with a skimpy baby blue bikini with the word JUICY written across the butt!

Now, I know that Juicy is a brand, but come on... putting it across the butt of a little itty bitty bikini bottom is a little, "wink, wink," isn't it?

It's funny, when I was looking at our last Throwback Thursday picture yesterday, I noticed that my sister and I were both wearing one-piece suits. I was 11 and Audrey was 14 in that photo (it was 1992).

Just 15 years later and probably 90% of the 11- and 14-year-old girl set would probably cry if they had to wear a one-piece at the beach!

I commend you for sticking to your guns!

Jane, Pinks & Blues Girls

Erin said...

We live in Utah and the Young Women are having a combined activity with the Young Men at the pool. They had to announce that the young women were supposed to wear a one-piece swimsuit. "And if you don't have one, you'll need to wear a shirt over it." What a sad thing that in a community where the church goes back so many generations, modesty isn't necessarily embraced. And don't even get me started on what they Young Women wore to the Halloween party...(think the costume party in Mean Girls) AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Absolutely I agree with you!

My SIL calls hoochie wear, prostitot clothes. I've received so many prostitot clothes for my daughter who is 9 WEEKS old. It's ridiculous.

Little girls should dress like little girls.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear! Thank you Shauna for bringing this up and I'm so glad to see the support for your stance -- I too agree and commit never to let my daughter where hoochiewear (or dress like a prostitot) even if I have to get out the sewing machine and make clothes myself. (Let's hope it doesn't come to this.) There have got to be some manufacturers who are smart enough to realize that there is a market for modest, little girl clothing. Has anyone found a great resource for this online or anywhere else? Where do you go to get normal little girl clothes when everyone is selling oversexualized and undermaterialed girls clothing?


Mama Zen said...

I love this piece! My daughter is 4, and I'm already having to fend off the hoochie clothes!

Karen said...

You emailed me about where I got the graphics on my site, and I clicked on your link. The first two stories I read (the one where your son is growing to fast, and this one) sound like struggles I'm facing! I, especially, LOVE this piece!
It is such a struggle to find clothes for my dd. Not only do we want to protect her modesty, but she's ultra thin. Luckily, Lands' End still has clothes that fit our two requirements. I'd add that I want clothes that are "bargains" but then Land's End would be out and my 13 yr old would either have to wear "hoochie wear" or go naked. So we pay a premium.
LOVE the article. Bookmarking you IMMEDIATELY!

Annie said...

I'm right there with you on this one!

Those little bikinis for girls with the triangles in the top - ridiculous.

My daughter has a two piece - but it has big bottoms and a big top - almost like a tankini.

As for some of the clothing? No thanks. They grow up fast enough, I'm not going to dress my baby girl like a hoochie!

Anonymous said...

Baby mamas from the ghetto might buy that stuff for their 6-year-old
girl that says "Porn Star." And then cry hysterically when she gets abducted by a child molester.

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