"Premium jeans, for instance, an item coveted by Maisy Gellert, a third grader living in Westchester County, N.Y. “I’m very particular,” Maisy said. “Sevens are the only jeans I actually wear.”
Like many girls her age, her fashion antennae are finely tuned, her standards exacting, her desires well defined. “I like the stuff that’s in style, like leggings and shorts, tank tops and flip-flops,” she said, promptly adding to that list: “Gap camisoles that are white, because I can wear them with just anything. Puma sneakers, pink and gray — I’m on my third pair — and ballet slippers, but those are hard to find for my size foot.”
Not for long, if fashion has its say. Less than a decade ago the industry began courting middle-school girls, or tweens, offering clothing and accessories that seemed to have been conceived for a much older market. Today designers and retailers are training their sights on even younger consumers, girls roughly 4 to 9, diminutive in stature but with great big eyes for style. Indeed, to judge by the wares — miniaturized drainpipe jeans, footless hose, cashmere tunics and press-on nails — fashion and cosmetics makers are intent on capturing the hearts of pint-size fashionistas, and the purse strings of their parents."
Is it just me or do other people find this disturbing? I mean, okay, so I've always thought that people who obsessed about what brand of clothes they wear are brainwashed children, but it begins to worry me when they really ARE brainwashed children. Surely the last thing we want to do is send a bunch of 4-8 year old girls the message that style trumps substance, that appearances are all important (at least if you're a girl) and that what you should really be worrying about (and I mean really worrying about) is the way you look. I'd always hoped that we'd see Barbies going out of style, but I'd kind of thought it would be because children (and more importantly their parents) would move on to better things - like books for instance - not because 5 year old girls wouldn't need a doll to dress up because they could dress themselves up instead.
Whatever happened to the whole idea of breaking away from genderist stereotypes, from the tyranny of an overwhelming stress on appearance that goes hand in hand with the objectification of women? What does it mean for the future of gender relations when five year old girls are spending their time putting on make-up and trying to figure out what outfits to wear? Where's a feminist when you really need one?
Okay, okay, so people have the right to bring up their children any way they want, and it's one of the joys of capitalism that people can actually enjoy being suckered into buying the most outrageous rubbish and being charged the earth for it. But when the key values we're instilling in our six year olds are not the ability to distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong or (to be more topical) truth and spin, but rather the difference between DKNY and Baby Phat, it really gets me worried. What's next, I wonder? Pre-schooling nose jobs? Liposuction for babies? Perhaps some prenatal botox injections? Maybe we could start opening mothers up in their second trimester so that their children could wear Diesel jeans in their ultrasounds. Forget the abortion debate about when a foetus becomes human. The real question is: at what point does it acquire fashion sense?
P.S. I'm kind of hoping, of course, that this is one of those typical NY Times lifestyle articles where the fact that the writer knows two different people who've had the same experience is evidence of a 'social trend'. At any rate, it's fun to rant about.
P.P.S. A separate article in the NYT points to a glowing review of the new Paris Hilton single. "I, like, cry when I listen to it, it's so good" the reviewer says of the new CD, 'Paris'. Only hitch - the reviewere happens to be Ms. Hilton herself. Wannabe bimbettes from the Bombay Times - please take notes.
Categories: CurrentAffairs, Rant