Stop Dressing Your Daughter Like a ... BY CELIA RIVENBARK November 23, 2007 URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/66915 The princess had just graduated to a size seven when everything went to hell. We headed for our favorite department store, ready to take that leap into the world of 716. Bye-bye, 46X, I thought to myself with a tug of sadness. My baby was growing up. And apparently into a prostitute. "Where are the sevens?" I asked the sixty-something clerk who wore her glasses on a chain just like me. "You're standing in 'em," she said. Oh no, I thought, looking around. Oh no, no, no, no, no, no. "There must be some mistake," I said. "These are, well, sl*utty-looking. I'm talking about clothes for a little girl in first grade." "That's all we've got." "But these look like things a hooker would wear!" She smiled sadly. "You have no idea how many times I hear that every day." Okay, breathe. This is just some weird marketing experiment. Right? I went into my second-favorite department store and was invited to peruse the awfulness that is Tweenland! A better name would be Lil Skanks! Sequins, fringe, neon glitter tank tops with big red lips on them, fishnet sleeves, scary dragon faces lunging from off-the-shoulder T-shirts. Whither the adorable seersucker? The pastel floral short sets? The soft cotton dresses in little-girl colors like lavender, pale pink, periwinkle blue? This stuff practically screamed SYRINGE SOLD SEPARATELY. I get it. Now that my kid is practically of childbearing age (is six the new seventeen?) I must choose from ripped-on-purpose jeans and T-shirts that scream things like GIRLS RULE AND BOYS DROOL! where an embroidered flower with a buzzing bee should be. When did this happen? Who decided that my six-year-old should dress like a Vegas showgirl? And one with an abundance of anger issues at that? And why are parents buying this junk fashioned from cheesy fabrics that surely leave your dryer's lint filter full of glitter and fuzzy sequined balls? I hope you won't take this the wrong way -- you, the mom on the cell phone flipping your check card to your kid so she can buy the jeans that say SPANK ME on them -- but you're going down, witch. No, really. I'm taking you out, putting you on notice, slapping some sense into your sorry a$$. Just for old times' sake, I wandered through the 4-6X section. It was just an arm's length away, but it was the difference between a Happy Meal at the playground and bulimia at the bar. So far, these clothes had been left mercifully untouched by the wand of the skank fairy, whom I envision as looking a lot like Tara Reid. Instead of being able to buy pretty things for my daughter, sweet somethings in ice cream colors, I must now shop at big, boxy unisex stores where you can still buy shorts that don't say DELICIOUS on the bottom or T-shirts that are plain instead of, swear to God, a size 7 belly shirt with MADE YA LOOK on the front. Look at what? There's not supposed to be anything to look at on a seven-year-old. Because they're children. Sweet Jesus, what I'd do for a lousy ladybug collar on a smocked dress. Instead, this season's Easter look consisted of sequined and chiffon body-hugging sheaths. I know that my daughter and I will fight about clothes in a few years, perhaps horribly, but, for now, there will be none of this Little Ladies of the Night look. And while moms and daughters have always fought over clothes (let's face it, even Marcia Brady wore some shockingly short dresses, and those baby-doll pj's in front of stepbrother Greg were icky), the clothing wars were usually taking place between mom and teen, not mom and first-grader. When you see a size 7 shirt that says SEXY! or a mom and her little girl strolling through the mall in matching shorts with JUICY scrawled across the butt, you have to wonder what the hell is going on. The saddest part about all this is that if you dress like you're a twenty-two-year-old going out to a club after a tough day at work in the city, you don't get to enjoy being a little kid. Deliver me from an outraged third-grader who thinks she's entitled to the entire line at Abercrombie & Fitch. Put on a normal pair of jeans and go play kickball, you brat! And tell yo mama I said so. If you examine the offerings in the 7-16 department, you'll quickly discover that it's no different from the stuff in the juniors' department and beyond. There is no distinction between a kid in second grade and one in twelfth grade and a college grad who's started her first real job. Never mind how essentially stupid a little fifty-pound kid looks wearing an off-the-shoulder top with FOOL FOR LOVE in glitter letters. Hell, some of these kids can't even read cursive writing and they're wearing this junk. They adore it because it's what Gwen or Avril or Ashlee is wearing. But you're not on stage, I want to scream. You're on the monkey bars! The big difference between my childhood and my daughter's is that these days, the kid gets the final say. What's up with that? I can promise you that if I was eight years old and told my parents I needed eighty-dollars for sparkly jeans to rest on my hip bones and a midriff top that read TOO RICH FOR YOU, they'd have thought I had fallen off my bike and my brain had spilled out my ears. If you want to get at the heart of the problem, which is the parents, of course, you need look no further than those "nanny to the rescue" shows on TV. It's the oddest thing: In almost every show, the moms are spilling out of too-tight tank tops and Daisy Dukes. They look like teenagers, and the kids run all over them. When the sturdy, bespectacled Supernanny shows up at the jam-stained front door, it's clear that a new sheriff is in town. The kids see her as someone that they should probably listen to. Hmmm. Wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that she's not wearing a tank that says SWEET THANG. She means business, while Mama's over there cowering in the kitchen corner, all hair extensions and implants talking 'bout "I can't do a thing with these young'uns." These children should be thanking the TV gods that they didn't dispatch a tough-talking Southern bubba instead of the Supernanny. Bubba doesn't care about any Dr. Phil-ish reasons for misbehavior. He'd just arrange for "a date with Mr. Hickory Stick" and a dessert of Dial soap while saying things like, "I'll learn you some respect, lil tater." Okay, that's going too far, but you get the idea. I always preferred the count-to-three method of discipline. It was astonishingly effective. You want to take back parental power? Try saying "Onnnne," then "Twooooo." I never made it to "Threeeee," because my preschooler shaped up, for which I am eternally grateful, because, let's face it, if I ever got to three, I had nothing. Nada. Zip. If you ask me, the Supernanny should put the parents, not the kids, in the naughty room and not let them out until Mom promises to buy some clothes that fit and Dad can stop being such a wimp. ("Brandon calls his Mama names, and I just wanna cry!") Grow a spine, you freak. It's time to "man up"! They're kids, not short grown-ups. Remember? From "Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank" by Celia Rivenbark. 2006 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.