What Are The Politics Of Kiddie Clothing?

Do you think kids are dressing appropriately nowadays or a bit too provocatively?

An online group thinks they definitely need to cover up more and is taking aim at retailers who target them. Mumsnet makes a few good points in its “Let Girls Be Girls” campaign. They say, among other things, that short shorts and t-shirts with questionable wording introduce girls to a sexualized world too soon while we as parents are busy trying to teach them to resist the pressure to become sexually active at a young age.

Are they onto something?  Take Suri Cruise, for example. Rarely does a day go by where the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes is not photographed dressed to the nines in sundresses and glittery shoes with kitten heels. But come on now. Is Suri trying to be sexy? I doubt it. She’s three. It’s all about the pretty in her world.

When Good Enough Mother was a kid, one of my favorite memories was playing dress-up. My own good enough mother had a trick. She would go to yard sales and buy all the fancy dresses and shoes for like 5 bucks, and then store everything in a chest in the garage. On rainy days, we were dressed to the nines, with sequins, pointy-toed pumps, faux furs, you name it, we ran around in it. (Little known fact, when you wear the rubber heel off the bottom of the pump, if you run in the street, scraping said heel against the asphalt, sparks will fly up. Really. Double the excitement when the potential is there to trip on your too long dress or have a spark ignite it!) Like Suri, we just wanted to be pretty.

But with regard to the Mumsnet initiative, isn’t this really about parental responsibility? I really couldn’t care any less what any of these targeted companies make. If it’s overly sexualized, I won’t buy it for my daughter. There is a degree of personal responsibility that comes into play here and parents need to step up. You may say, well my daughter has an allowance and buys her own stuff. But don’t you take a look at it? Don’t you check what she’s wearing as she walks out the door in the morning? If it’s not something you want her to wear, then don’t let her wear it. Take it back to the store. Step up.

That said, it’s a complicated issues that goes both ways. If you want to talk overly sexualized, you really need look no further than TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. It’s all about what these kids (and their mothers, who seem to be living vicariously through them) go through on the pint sized pageant circuit. The members of Mumsnet clearly have never seen it or they would suffer a collective stroke, no doubt. Young girls with more pancake on than RuPaul, wearing bikini tops over their semi-concave chests. Their tummies stick out over their bathing suit bottoms, which again, are barely filled out. I watched with a look of horror and at the first commercial, realized I was frowning. Very weird.


Then there are these girls, 7-year-olds from the World of Dance competition in California. They performed Beyonce’s Single Ladies routine in a video that went viral a few weeks ago. The performance is great, but THEY ARE SEVEN! I had to keep reminding myself of that as they bumped, grinded and booty-popped in a dance that was utterly uncomfortable to watch. See for yourself.


But we need to be careful about lumping all of these into a single category. I see no harm in Suri Cruise in her kitten heels because this is probably a phase she’ll grow out of soon enough. Mumsnet needs to know going after the retailer probably won’t work. If there are dollar signs attached, doesn’t matter the amount of protest, they’ll keep making as long as they keep selling. The point is we have to stop buying!

But Toddler and Tiaras and these booty poppin’ 7-year-olds is just too crazy for words. Are their parents proud of that? Doesn’t it seem odd to you to watch a first grader grinding and simulating sex and whatever else was going on on that stage? Surely I cannot be alone.

What about you? Are you okay with Suri Cruise and her kitten heels? Would you let your daughter wear them? How about the dance routine or Toddlers and Tiaras, would you allow your kids to do any of that or is Good Enough Mother just a big ol’ prude?