Clothes Horse

Well, to tell you the truth, I haven’t gotten over my ire about children’s fashions. I’ll be checking out Crazy 8’s, Children’s Place and Land’s End tout suite because rumor has it these companies present clothing that allows little girls to be little girls instead of pushing children to age beyond their years.

It’s Sunday and I’m in the mood to preach a little. Beware.

A friend sent a link to this article, where the author writes about what to teach her children when they turn on the radio and hear Rihanna singing about S&M and find sexual references in everything from deodorant and shampoo commercials to animated cartoon movies like The Smurfs. (FYI, don’t agree with her conclusions at all.)

I’ve come to a conclusion a wee bit different from what I wrote a few days ago.

Yes, manufacturers are to blame for creating this clothing. Yes, stores are to blame for marketing and peddling childhood sexuality.

But do you know who bears the lion-share of blame? Me.


We are to blame.

We buy the stuff. We permit their agendas with our dollars and lack of outrage. We are the parents who don’t have the chutzpah to tell our kids, “No!” when they try on an outfit too old for them or bring magazines and catalogs into the house that don’t fit our family priorities.

We are the mothers who don’t change the standard and instead try to conform to our community and what we assume is happening so our kids will be popular, think we’re cool and tell us their secrets.

We are the fathers who don’t tell their daughters they’re more beautiful in sweat pants and no make up than dolled up in a strapless dress and 2″ heels for their eighth-grade graduation.

We are the uncles who don’t change the channel when a commercial objectifying women comes on.

We are the aunts who talk about if you don’t “put out” your boyfriend will break up with you.

We are the teachers and support staff who don’t tell our students they need to cover up and assume someone else will tell them sometime.

We are the community members who are ok with high school girls wearing string bikinis to do a car wash.

We’re letting children, especially girls, believe what they wear will make them attractive. We are the ones promoting that skewed agenda by our complicity.

And then we complain to our friends about how we want our daughters to dress modestly but we just can’t find anything for them to wear… how we don’t want our daughters to be on the Pill but we’d rather have them pumping chemicals into their bodies on a daily basis than deal with the consequences of their action with an unwanted pregnancy.

We are the problem.

I read this post to Lizard ahead of publishing it because it’s not funny. I’ve gotten feedback in the past when I’m funny I’m a great writer but when I’m preachy it’s heavy. I asked him if I should hit that “publish” button.

He said, “yes.” So if you don’t like this one, blame my husband! He also wanted to mention not all of us are the problem – many of the people we know don’t send their dollars toward immodest clothing. The dads do recognize their significance in their daughter’s development.

Many people we know are part of the solution because they’re speaking with their voices, writing, dollars and feet.

I agree. But I would argue all of us know someone who doesn’t speak up. Who doesn’t try. Who does spend hundreds of dollars in the stores whose advertising uses children in images that are soft-pornography.

Why would we walk past these images every day and not raise a ruckus? Why would we let our children grow up thinking this objectification is ok?

We are the problem when we do not put forth the effort to make a difference. If we aren’t ok with what we see around us, we need to get vocal and stop blaming the manufacturers, the stores, the media… and take responsibility for ourselves!

Women, for all our ranting about objectification and loss of power, we have the power to stop this circus ride. Don’t believe me? Consider this:

Lysistrata – a ancient Greek play describing how the women got sick of the men warring all the time and went on a sex strike. They withheld intimate relations until the men quit fighting… and it worked!

Victorian times – men composed odes after glimpsing a woman’s ankle under her skirt. Really, the ankle?! Not the most attractive of all body parts, in my opinion. But yes, the ankle. Because that’s what they could see. So they liked it.

Today – Please tell me you’ve noticed a woman wearing a potato sack dress can emit as much sexuality as a woman in a bustier and fishnet stockings – sometimes more!

Attractiveness and sexuality do not have to be about clothing. The idea you have to wear revealing clothing to be attractive is not only bogus – it trains men to believe they can get away with being lazy and not working for the prize of an amazing woman in body, mind and spirit!

I’ve now rambled for 700 words. Here are my bullet points to sum it up before I hit 800 words:

1. If we’re buying the clothing, we are the problem.

2. If we aren’t teaching our children by example their clothing is less important than their character, we are the problem.

3. If we’re complaining about the problem but not putting forth the effort to change it, we are the problem.

Uh-oh. It’s up to almost 1,000 words. Thank you for sticking with me on my rant against myself and the world! I’d love to hear your feedback. Stay tuned and visit again for more stories of the weird and wacko, I promise to avoid my soapbox for awhile.

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6 thoughts on “Clothes Horse

  • August 21, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I agree with you completely. I grew up with the dad who only told me how beautiful I looked when I was dressed up for a dance or a fun girls night out where we all dressed up. My mom rarely went shopping with me, so I got the type of stuff that my friends bought. To this day, I still have trouble finding shirts that are appropriate & not super low cut…if I think a shirt is too low, then I do my best to put a cami on after that’s not inappropriate. I’ve gone into stores like Abercrombie & Fitch with my friends and I want to leave as soon as I see the pictures that cover the walls, and I refuse to ever spend a penny in those stores on me or my future family. Shopping to find appropriate clothes is hard, but some clothes can always be modified in some way to make them modest.

  • August 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Don’t avoid your soapbox for too long – you made a great point!!!

  • August 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I completely agree as well. We start teaching our kids about modesty at a very young age. I think it is important for both girls and boys to understand the importance of modesty. We, as mothers, are crucial role models for our children. Our daughters learn what is appropriate by what they see, not what they’re told.

    So many Christian women don’t realize the importance of modesty. It is amazing to see how women and young girls are dressed at church. It’s very unfortunate. I agree that it is our responsibility to teach and inform our children and others. Thankfully, our kids will impact other kids and we can impact other women and kids.

    It makes me so sad to see little girls, even babies/toddlers, in bikini swimsuits. Moms think its cute and harmless. But, if a girl has been wearing a bikini since an infant, then why wouldn’t they continue to choose to wear one when they’re older?

    Another thing that bugs me is little girls who don’t have shorts on under their skirts/dresses. This is another lesson in modesty. Even if moms don’t think this is important, don’t they realize that pedophiles lurk in play areas and playgrounds? With camera phones, your children can be photographed and you don’t even know it.

    Last month I took my kids to play at Focus on the Family. One of the employees said to make sure I keep a close eye on my kids because they had caught some people taking pictures of kids recently.

    My daughter is in American Heritage Girls, (an alternative to Girl Scouts). They place great emphasis on modesty. I am so thankful to have a group of women and girls who support and practice modesty! They also teach what true beauty means. Its what’s on the inside that counts.

    I stopped buying regular shorts for my 9 year old daughter awhile ago. They were getting shorter and shorter. I was very thankful to find some bermuda shorts at The Children’s Place last year. My daughter was happy too because she wanted to wear shorts again!

    So, this is a soapbox issue for me too. Keep up the good work!

  • August 23, 2011 at 6:31 am

    You are very correct. Everyone should not only speak up but do so in a way to create the awareness.

    I recently took my neices with us when my husband I went over to his buddy’s house. His buddy’s wife was at a charity event for the evening and left him home with the kids. We were sitting in the basement family room where the toys and sitting furniture are all in the same proximity. The kids & I were playing dolls, picnic, and tackle foodball all at the same time. The buddy that invited us over was looking for something to watch on T.V. and stopped at a comedy show. When the comedian started making sexual remarks during one of his acts and even used an explicit that was not bleeped out (yes it was past 9 p.m) I looked at the guy and said “I really don’t think this show is appropriate for my neices, would you mind changing the channel please.” His reply is what really showed me who he is. “Oh they don’t say anything wrong here, my kids watch this guy all the time give it a chance, you will see.” It dawned on me, he hadn’t even noticed what the comedian had said. He is so immune to it he didn’t even notice it. I give complete credit to my husband who looked over at him and said. “dude, she’s right what he said even offended me and got no laughter from the audience, lets go back to ESPN and check the replays.” with clear obliviousness the man shrugged his shoulders and found sports. I am thankful for my husband speaking up when my voice was not heard.

    I must also state that I have been around his children enough that I can say the way they act is more compared to the childrens shows I have seen them watch instead of the comedian he claims they watch all the time. So rest assured there is not a 3 yr old boy and 5 yr old girl walking around like a cable channel comedian. They are more interested in being a cheerleader in a princess gown and football player wearing the local college uniform colors playing catch/fetch with the dog.

  • October 20, 2011 at 12:07 am

    This is so true. Last summer, I went swimsuit shopping for my then 6 year old daughter. I decided to check out Walmart’s selection since I was there…I was appalled. The choices were either bikinis or “one-piece” suits completely lacking fabric on the sides. Further more, the fabrics were rhinestone-laden, florescent or patterns obviously designed to draw attention to parts of the little girl’s body that shouldn’t be considered appealing for another 10 years. I no longer shop at Walmart.

    After much thrifting, I have found a swimwear solution for my daughter: She wears a very modest one-piece under a “surfer-style” short-sleeved rash guard shirt and knee-length board shorts that match. When we’re in the back yard (where we have privacy), I will allow her to remove the shirt, but I actually like it on for sun protection in addition to modesty. We have received so many complements on her swimwear from strangers at the pool, so I know we’re not alone.

    Incidentally, that outfit is the same as what I wear for swimming. The first time my daughter saw me in a bikini (which I wear under the shirt and shorts) she was shocked and said, “Mama! That swimsuit is showing off TOO much!! You should change!” 🙂

    Well said, Juggler.


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