6 Sep 2011
You have touched upon a couple of things that I have in my mind for the past six years. Let me go paragraph by paragraph. Any one else from the blog-mom-o-sphere, please participate. Comment, do a post, what ever works for you.
Chula has been fitting in a size or two bigger clothing since she was four. It is the hips that take the blame. Till I shopped in the ‘toddler’ section(US size 2 – 5) life was peachy. When I ventured in to the ‘girls’ section (US size 5 – 14) I vividly remember being alarmed. Many of the clothes were inappropriately designed. I mean who ever came with this low rise jeans idea?! Shouldn’t designers have some basic sense about hip size : crotch-to-waist length holy ratio? One moron comes up with a design that would fit stick figures and the all major departmental chains go ballistic and stock ONLY low rise hip huggers. I mean these are 5 and 6 year old children who run and climb things. I tried buying two sizes bigger and altering the length, but eventually gave up buying jeans for my children. Since 2008, all they wear are cotton pants with elastic at the hips that covers the butt crack. Yes, the clothing section is brimming, but if you are looking for non-pink, non-Disney characters, slightly loose, appropriate clothing, something that will withstand the running and climbing, something that is not a mini version of adult clothing you might as well grow you own cotton and weave your own clothes.
Do I need to write anything about swim suits? Target has decided that if you are looking for 8+ size swim suit, it has to be three piece – a mini bra, a bottom that will fit inside a match box, a small match box that is, and a shirt. Mind you, none of these three pieces of clothing solve the purpose of covering your child’s body and it costs a about $50. If not, you can buy wet suits for double the prize. Finally after three months of searching I found swim shorts(low rise of course) and swim shirt at Old Navy, that too only because Feb is the time the stores stock swim wear.
Yes, that is the trend now good people. The thinking is no more, ‘This is current fashion’/‘this is swim season’ -> let us buy a little more in case there is a demand. The selling no longer caters to the different sets of people, with different shapes of bodies, buying a variety of things. For all that talk and noise about uniqueness, the only message clothing industry gives my children is to conform. Stores sell one standard thing at one standard time and you better stock up. If they sell low rise jeans, fit your body in to it. If they sell swim suits from Feb – July, buy at that time. If you think your child might grow out of the swim suit before, what stores perceive as, the next swim season, you stock up or you don’t get any. All in the name of popular demand!
Not exactly clothes, but while on the topic, I might as well spill my angst. If you are following this blog you will know that we just moved continents. Moving two children from one country to another, for good, is not fun. I wanted to cheer the children up and the bulb in my head switched on. ‘Hey, let me buy the children their own pull along suitcases.’ Again if you don’t endorse Disney or Barbie, then your choices are practically non existent. For boys it is easy, buy a pull along suitcase with Lightning McQueen and you are done. At least that is what it looks to me as a mother of two girls. What I buy is what I endorse to my girls. I do not want to endorse Disney Princesses, Bartz, Barbie and such. I found that if I have certain principles, then I enter in to the exclusive realm and I need to shell out the money even if I am not ready. Finally this came home, with a hefty price tag, of course, the most I have ever spent on a piece of luggage and my heart bleeds a little bit every time the children pull it a little too hard.
Good teachers/guides(parents are the first teachers and guides of young children) have this philosophy, to balance out the classroom and to maintain harmony in the classroom, they pair up children with opposing qualities. It is purely trial and error and if it clicks, they compliment each other very well. Now a small diversion. Children are born with no clue what so ever about the XX and XY factor. Finally they figure out that there is a divide called girls and boys. They look in the society and look for external signs and qualities that define what is a boy and what is a girl. Unfortunately society tells that girls NEED to wear pink, wear dresses, must giggle, form sisterhood, like chocolates, must be super sensitive, swing between extreme emotions, be delicate, do art work, talk about their feelings, give up things for the greater good, be responsible, be gentle, be caring…… Back to good teachers/guides, these good adults must bear in mind that young children gravitate to pink and pretty because in their flexible minds, if they do not they are not girls. Unfortunately the adults, innocently endorse this thinking that it is a phase. Yes it is a phase, but if dealt blindly becomes a way of being, way of existence. All it takes -sensible adults to keep reassuring that sex is a biological thing and does not change no matter what. Just like good teachers, good parents must expose their children to both ‘boy stuff’ and ‘girlie stuff’.
Media, again like the departmental stores works with the sole principle of making money. Boys play rough/girls read books and do crafts -> publish more books for girls with girls as central characters and balls/blocks and video games for boys. Now come in the unsuspecting adults, who look at the choices available – ‘Make your own friendship bracelets kit with pictures of a pretty girl’, Cam Jansen, Fancy Nancy in full splendor, ‘Monopoly in pink – special girls edition with boutiques and malls instead of hotels and houses’, designer edition pink Scrabble, Uno special pink edition… and end up thinking this is what girls need and inadvertently end up feeding the loop. Whose brilliant idea is it to sell Monopoly in pink? What is this message that girls must shop and spend money at the mall while boys get to do large motor activity, running around, playing regular Monopoly and developing their spacial skills? Why define pink is for girls and then sell pink board games and giving the message that girls play with girls and boy play with boys? Who exactly dictates that boys need to be powerful and play ball while girls need to be passive aggressive and shop?
Then this unique Indian message. The MIL switches the TV on and there is a lady lecturing that, the woman’s place is behind the man and by supporting the man she can better herself. She goes on telling the story of Valluvar’s wife Vasuki who defied gravity. At a point it gets to me, the mother of two girls and I end up buying Paper Bag Princess where the Princess not only saves the goofball of a prince but also ends up calling him a bum and walks out alone. Do I want to my daughters to end up alone? No, but I feel that is much better than being a Vasuki or a dainty princess. This is exactly how aggressive feminism grows. The past six years I have heard nothing but the roles and duties girls. Come on, my child is still pooping in her diapers and you tell me, ‘It is good to have a girl child first, she will be responsible and take care of the boy who will come next’?
That is why K’s mom, it is up to us, parents to stand up for our children, so that they can be well rounded individuals, have a full life, without any hatred for the opposite sex, choose professions that they are passionate about rather than to fit the bill and be sensitive. We as parents must put thought in to what we buy and what we endorse. Rather than picking the best of the worst, we must demand quality. If we let the advertising industry and corporates dictate what we need to buy for our children, we(men and women) might as well part ways, move to Mars and Venus and live happily ever after.
Reading suggestions: CINDERELLA ATE MY DAUGHTER by PEGGY ORENSTEIN. Words can’t tell how much I enjoyed and learned from this book. Five stars and a must read for all parents, irrespective of the sex of your child.