Thursday, April 08, 2010

ten is the new thirteen

As someone who dyed her hair nearly every color you can think of, shaved her head, and wore a latex miniskirt in public, I felt pretty confident about dealing with whatever extreme fashion statements the children might get up to in their teen years. After all, I was one of the earlier Modern Primitives back in the eighties, getting pierced covertly in the basement of a fetish store before piercing shops were invented and moving to California because tattoos were illegal where I lived. How could I be shocked?

I was stupidly wrong, of course. Iris uber Alles is only ten years old, and I'm already shocked and unsettled by what one of her friends wears.

Even being forewarned didn't help. The Sober Husband came home one night from a Girl Scouts meeting and told me how the mother of one of Iris's friends had complained bitterly to him that her daughter had gotten in trouble at school on a free dress day by wearing a skirt that was deemed inappropriate by the school. The mother was angry and defensive. "I didn't think the skirt was that bad." She didn't think it was too short and wanted support from the Sober Husband, support that wasn't coming. He just changed the subject, but brought it up with me later because we'd never heard of a fourth grader getting into trouble over something worn on a rare free dress day. We mused over it together. How on earth could an innocent ten year-old get into trouble over a skirt?

Then this ten year-old girl stopped by our house in a miniskirt which barely, barely skimmed her crotch, and I instantly shared the school's point of view. I brought up the skirt to Iris and was relieved to find that she didn't covet one like it.

This week I learned that there was more than one gynoskirt (a phrase invented by the "Project Rungay" wits to describe the alarmingly short, tight, and shiny skirts favored by Heidi Klum) in this girl's wardrobe. On a spring break outing, this young girl showed up in an excessively elaborate ruffled, pleated, and ornamented miniskirt barely covering her underwear.

I cannot exaggerate how short these skirts are. Back when I went to Burning Man, I had a lot of friends who favored "look at me! look at me!" clothes, but none of them ever left the house in something as extreme as these skirts unless they were at Burning Man itself (where it's perfectly accepted to walk around naked, which I never did, although one of my legal clients couldn't quite believe that. "I always wanted to go to Burning Man," he said, "but now I can't. It's just not appropriate for me to see my lawyer naked." I reassured him that he was quite safe on that count, but the risk still loomed large in his mind).

Iris is only ten years old, and I'm already freaked out by the clothes one of her friends wears. I'm also disturbed by the parents, who are presumably funding these extreme clothing buys. I don't want to ask them what they're thinking, because I don't want to discuss it. I just want to cover my eyes, make a wish, and reopen my eyes to find all the children dressed in adorable, modest Hanna Andersson clothes.


La Vikinga said...

Glad I'm not the only one put off these days by clothing manufacturers pushing the "streetwalking ho'" look on young girls. Makes me long for the return of rhumba/bloomers/ruffle pants that my girls used to wear under their dresses when they were two.
Your description of that loincloth reminded me of a quote from "AbFab":
“One snap of my fingers and I can raise hemlines so high the world is your gynecologist.” — Patsy Stone

pie_ho said...

how overweight? are the parents hoping that an interest in fashion will inspire her to slim down? (If so, then evil on two counts instead of just the fashion-victim one.) This makes me think of the Nic Cage movie The Weatherman, which is not a good movie, but has some great scenes centering on his very gentle handling of his prepubescent daughter, whose schoolmates call her Cameltoe.
v.v. glad Iris is too smart to succumb to the baby ho look.
ps this site would not show me the word verification when I was in firefox, and thereby forced me to use explorer. Evil!

hughman said...

wait, you moved to CA to get a tattoo? it was illegal in NYC when i got mine but there was a secret tattoo parlor on the lower east side that was like a secret speakeasy with an eyehole in the door and everything!

but on the clothes thing, ew.

Caroline said...

We had a meeting today with all the female cherubs I teach. I said, and I quote, "If you come to school once in clothing that doesn't meet dress code, I will give you a lunch detention. If you do it a second time, I will call home and tell your mother you are showing up to school dressed inappropriately and she needs to monitor your wardrobe before you leave the house." Guess THAT approach ain't gonna bring about any changes if this is the way they're gonna roll, huh?

the Drunken Housewife said...

The child in question is pretty heavy, sigh, and I have a general impression that the parents have been concerned and active on that front. This child is obsessed with certain fashion labels and talks a lot about them. Some of the other fourth graders do as well... they want Coach wallets and Juicy Couture and Loyal Army clothes. The only designer piece Iris has is a Betsey Whatshername dress I bought in a boutique when I was drunk in Martha's Vineyard.

I am so glad there is a uniform at their school. So glad.

Hugh, tattooing was illegal in Mass., Maine & New York when I lived there. I did get invited to an underground tattoo party and had a hookup to an artist operating illegally in NY, but I wanted serious custom art... so I came to law school in Calif.

the Drunken Housewife said...

p.s. I don't think the clothes in question are kids clothes. I think they are adult clothes worn by a ten year-old. I buy adult size 0 or 2 for Iris now... she is really tall and is pretty much done with children's clothes, sigh. She is still wearing kids' jeans, but in the biggest size you can get at Gap Kids. It will be adult jeans next, although they'll need hemming.

Silliyak said...

I have to lave a comment simply because the word verification is "pante"

hughman said...

well the woman that did my tattoo is pretty heavy duty. the parlor is now legit - East Side Ink - andrea elston did mine.

the Drunken Housewife said...

I didn't mean to diss NY tattoo artists-- the thing is I lived in Boston. I had enough of a connection that I cd have gone to NY and gotten a quickie tattoo, but I didn't have the ability to go down, go see someone about art, come back for a follow up, etc.., etc.. which is the leisurely way I worked with my first artist. I ended up getting my work done out at Ed Hardy's tattoo studio. Who knew he was going to become the clothier to the Jon Gosselins of the world?

the Drunken Housewife said...

p.s. My work was not actually done by Ed Hardy himself but by his colleague.

hughman said...

yeah, that's how that appointment was made. you went three times over three months before she inked. it was a whole "process" with drawings, etc. (which i thought was really awesome). i was just reading about ed hardy! it was about how he was actually a really cool guy before the whole gosselin thing. who knew?

Missy said...

The poor overweight child is obsessed because she knows that she doesn't look the same as other children,and she thinks that the clothes will make up for that. Poor child.

It is really hard to see a child wearing adult sized clothing because they are overweight. I know of one student who is wearing clothing that would be for an overweight adult.

The parents are buying the clothes and other things to keep the child happy, just as they can't really enforce (for whatever reasons) the things that make the child overweight.

Claire M. Johnson said...

I think the major difference was that when you and I were growing up (I'm older but the culture I suspect was the same) is that these were bids for freedom or individuality. The point of these fashions is to sexualize children. Plain and simple. This issue tends to get me on my feminist high horse, but I think it's part and parcel of this overwhelming social tidal wave to reduce women to children, the only possible explanation for the anoxretic model thing. I base this on the fact that all men that I talk to like their women with curves I've become so worked up over this that I routinely ask men if they find superthin models attractive--to a "man" the answer is no), so fashion is only talking to women (who buy the clothes). Take away breasts and hips and you have tall children. And if tall children are the ideal, then I don't think it's a leap to make our children sex objects. Fortunately, my daughter had no desire to appear like a tart in training, however, it was almost impossible to find clothes ANYWHERE that didn't promote that concept. I think it's sick beyond belief, but it's pervasive in teen culture. Look at Hannah Montana. Tween one moment, budding sex object the next.

Um, TMI?

the Drunken Housewife said...

Claire, I so agree with you about fashion models. I was struck around the time Iris turned five or six that she and a friend of hers are the only humans I know whose bodies look like fashion models' bodies. Both she and her friend are tall and thin for their ages, but not excessively thin, and have the pre-puberty lack of breasts and hips which no one, apart from the anorexic or the extreme athletes, have after puberty. It strikes me that sexy clothing advertisement is scarily close to child pornography.

During my lifetime I've seen women want to own their sexuality, which seems great, but somehow it's gone too far in my opinion, where it's now normal for middle schoolers to give blowjobs. Somehow the word feminist has become a dirty word, and meanwhile it's cool and hip to be skanky. It's not an atmosphere I feel great raising girls in.

Dread Pirate Davi said...

I read this stuff, and it makes me horribly, horribly afraid of having my own children and having to inevitably deal with things like this. I remember my belly-baring phase. Dear gawd, what was I thinking?! I'm surprised my parents didn't drink themselves into oblivion in order to cope.