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SmackDown: Should Kids Wear Skinny Jeans?
Filed under: Opinions
Skinny Jeans for Kids Aren't Cool.by Amy Hatch
Last time I checked, my daughter's back-to-school shopping list didn't include "items that can help put her self-esteem in the basement," and that's why we'll skip the skinny jeans this year.
When I saw the Wall Street Journal story on skinny jeans for toddlers, I had that "smack the forehead" moment. The story even shows with a graphic how the jeans are designed to "closely mimic the shape and style" of their adult counterpart, the denim trend that has so many women squeezing themselves into a dark-wash sausage casing.
In the interest of full disclosure, let me first say that I am one of those women -- I own not one, but two pairs of skinny jeans. But here's the thing: I am a fully- grown woman who has had 39 years to grapple with -- and come to terms with -- the notion of her own body image.
I'm not a 5-year-old girl like my own daughter, who is not a stick-thin baby waif, but instead has a muscular physique. She's beautiful, healthy and strong, and -- for the moment, anyways -- blissfully unaware that the rest of the Western world sees her as flawed. Not to mention that I'm disinclined to dress her like a miniature hootchie mama. It's bad enough that I can barely find a pair of jeans for her that doesn't ride so low that her underwear shows.
Now, she also has to contend with the fact she already doesn't fit the societal label of "skinny."
According to the Media Research Network, the research group Anorexia Nervosa & Related Eating Disorders Inc. found that one out of every four college-age women has engaged in unhealthy methods of weight control, including skipping meals, excessive exercise, self-induced vomiting, fasting and laxative abuse.
That number is staggeringly high. And now, we are starting even our toddlers off with the idea that they can -- and should -- sport the label of "skinny." The idea that they're just kids and that the message won't be absorbed is misguided at best and, at it's worst, dangerous. Any parent of a toddler can tell you that kids understand a lot more than we give them credit for.
And just why are we making clothing for little kids that mimics what adults wear? So often we bemoan the fact that our children, especially our girls, are growing up so much more quickly than ever before. We worry about teen sexuality, pregnancy and the objectification of our young women as nothing but sex objects, and then we set about creating a piece of clothing --for babies, no less -- that is designed for maximum sex appeal on adults.
We're hypocrites, too, pointing fingers at celebrity kids like Suri Cruise and her high heels, tsk-ing and judging her famous parents for decking her out like a miniature grown-up, and then we turn around and do the the exact same thing. The only difference is that we don't have to contend with the paparazzi.
Besides that, what ever happened to dressing kids like kids? I'm no puritan, and I love fashion-forward duds. I'm not advocating a return to Peter Pan collars and ankle-length skirts, but outfitting children in the exact image of adults and then expecting them not to adopt a precocious attitude makes no sense.
Recently, a major women's retailer was caught with their Photoshop showing, when an unedited image of a model showed up on their website next to the edited one. In the second, doctored photograph, the beautiful model's body was altered drastically to make her appear almost painfully thin. Women expressed their outrage over the image, taking the business to task for perpetuating the beauty myth in such a severe and obvious way.
Dressing babies and toddlers in skinny jeans does the exact same thing -- it sends a message, both to our children and to those who market to them -- that that you can never be too thin.
And that is just not cool.
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