Dress ‘Em Up, But Don’t Let ‘Em Out

I had to run to the mall this afternoon to pick up some more face soap and see about getting some drab green khakis. (I like colored khakis/chinos–especially my hot pink ones.)

I decided to hit up The Gap since I hear they have a mad Wednesday discount. No dice. Next door, however, was New York & Co.

Hello, friend.

Got my pants–the right size AND length–and was out in a hot second.

But then I walked by Gap Kids and sorta actually paid attention to the displays in the window. The mannequins were dressed in halters and skinny jeans, polos and cargoes. The itty bitty child-sized mannequins were dressed as small ADULTS.

Which got me thinkin’.

We’re content to dress children as small adults but we still micro-manage the hell out of their little lives. In other words, we spend so much time making children look like adults while not allowing them to begin to make choices and decisions for themselves in an effort to learn how to become independent young adults.

And we wonder why girls, at least, experience puberty at an alarmingly earlier age or why girls are sexualized at such a young age. Yet we think it’s cute to dress girls up as mini-me’s in skinny jeans and halter tops.

If boys experience the same thing in terms of sexualization, there’s not much reported about it. We do know that boys receive cultural messages about sex and…well…that’s a more explicit link for another time.

But it goes way beyond sexualization.

I work with college students, many of whom can’t seem to get their shit together. I know this when their mommas call my office…when they come in freaked out about not being able to register because they didn’t complete their part of the process…when they have a hissy fit (I kid you not) about not getting what they want right when they want it. And sometimes, it really is their fault.

But sometimes, it’s their parents’ fault, too.

Because parents have (or ought to anyway) a great deal of control over what their children see and eat and wear. Parents have a great deal of control over the parameters within which they will let their child(ren) operate. But parents will never have complete, absolute control. And at some point, they will send their child(ren) out into the world, thereby relinquishing most, if not all, of the control they had.

If there’s anxiety about letting your child(ren) leave the nest, perhaps we should look at the kind of preparation these children have been given and whether they LOOK like young adults or whether they can BE young adults.

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2 thoughts on “Dress ‘Em Up, But Don’t Let ‘Em Out

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