In September of 2006, author and journalist Celia Rivenbark published a book entitled ‘Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank’ in which she explores the current trends in childhood and pre-teen fashion. Rivenbark, a humour columnist by trade, takes a look at the trends from a humorous perspective, but also cautiously as she expresses her concerns for the skanky and seductive clothing that have become popular for young girls.
Venturing into any store or section of a store aimed at pre-teen girls, one may be absolutely shocked as to what they may find, especially if it has been some time since they have shopped for young girls clothing. At one time, pre-teen girls could select from different sweat suits that matched from head to toe, t-shirts with ponies, rainbows, or sunshines as the centre focus, jeans, jumpers, moderately lengthed skirts, and other clothing that one would consider modest and innocent. Since the shift into the new millennium, fashion has changed for the pre-teen girl. Not only are girls being pushed into the consumer driven world at a younger age, they are given images of what they should be; and that is something far beyond their years.
A couple of months after the publication of Rivenbark’s book, MacLean’s magazine did a question and answer piece in which they prompted her for the reasons why she would write such a book. She expressed her utter dismay when she walked into pre-teen clothing sections at many stores with her very own daughter. She gives such examples of shirts that she has seen with ‘Jailbait’ or ‘Made ya look’ displayed on front. These are only two of many possible examples of shirts with such expressions on them or pants with words or phrases plastered on the bottoms.
The reality is that what has become cool or trendy for pre-teen girls is for them to look like skanks. Pre-teens see girls on TV showing their mid-drifts and wearing clothing that is far too mature for them and think that it is cool, and so, they desire to copy what they see.
As a parent you may be saying, well, they are young and it is still innocent. This may be true for the child, maybe they do look cute showing off their mid-drift and since they are young, they can still get away with it without it being overly revealing. However, in a world such as ours there lies a danger as to how children are dressing that makes them look too old or open to predators. At the mall or at recess or walking home from school, there may be predators out there and they may see clothing such as what is being discussed as an invitation. As a parent, shielding your child from the dangers of this world is important even if that means saying no to what they would like to wear.
It is a frightening thing when one cannot tell the difference between a twelve-year-old and an eighteen-year-old, and I must say, I have seen it happen. Younger and younger girls are wearing make-up, caring a great deal about their appearance, their hair, and of course, their clothing.
For pre-teen (and teen) girls who have been raised in a culture that has told them since the time that they were quite young what is cool, how they should look, and how they should act, it can be quite difficult to break away from the crowd. However, as a parent, it is important to encourage your daughter to look and feel her age. It seems, more and more, that children want to grow old before their time, but as parents, trying to encourage your children to act their age is important for their emotional and psychological health.
Again, one simple way to help your pre-teen daughters in this highly materialist world is being able to tell them no and sticking to it. It is okay to say no and your relationship with your child will be sure to be healthier because of it.
It is healthy to ensure that your daughter feels good about herself and her appearance, but this does not have to mean dressing immodestly. Often when girls dress immodestly, they are screaming for attention, as they feel insecure about their personal or body image. Brittany Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Christina Aguilera should not be your pre-teen daughter’s role model (or anyone else’s role model for that reason). Unfortunately, many girls can’t get away from the images of fame that they see and the glamorization of these prima donnas lives. Sometimes saying no is the only defense you have for your daughter, but it can also be helpful to encourage your daughter to find a positive role model that shares your values and seems cool to them.
Helping your daughter to learn discretion when she is young will hopefully carry on into the rest of her life. If she is secure with herself, this will be reflected in how she dresses and acts. Raising your daughter to be a confident and well-represented person may start with saying no to the skanky or sketchy stuff and teaching her to dress with a little class.