Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Little Fashonistas

When it comes to clothing today, children are deciding what they want to wear. This new independence that children want is affecting their relationships with their parents. In the world of fashion, retailers have become smart when they target these little fashionistas. Is this good or bad? This is the first step for kids to become more independent at a younger age. Is it detrimental to their growth as a kid? How much is it actually costing them and their parents?

Talking to one parent from Malden, Massachusetts was informative. She explains, “My daughter just turned 9. She asked me when we went school shopping if she could shop on her own. In my mind I was shocked and a little sad, but I gave her the freedom. For me it was a little heart-breaking because it meant that my little girl didn’t need me anymore. I’m sure for most parents it would be shocking as well.”

A young girl from Malden, Massachusetts named Elizabeth comments about her independence. She states, “I am 7 years old. My mom always tries to help me get dressed in the morning. I don’t like it when she does that. I keep my door closed when I change so that I can dress myself like a grown-up.” As noted, kids want the freedom and independence from their parents. It might seem horrific to the parents because their children are so young, but this is what children want.

Many leading retail companies have begun to branch out to younger children. One example that has been around for a while is Gap. They have the regular adult Gap then there is Kid Gap and Baby Gap. Another recent company to do this is American Eagle Outfitters. They recently expanded their clientele into kids and babies. They launched their idea in 2008, and now in October of 2010 they will be opening up stores called 77 Kids. It markets to the little fashionistas of the world. They offer styles and outfits that you would see a teenage boy or girl wearing. These companies target younger kids and are dressing them like older kids. This is where independence takes place. These younger children want to have the independence that older kids have. If older siblings shops at Gap or American Eagle, their younger siblings might do the same. Thus, these younger kids will look up to their siblings and they will want the independence that they have.

This is where targeting younger kids becomes a problem. There are kids ranging between 6-12-years old, who want to dress like their older siblings or grown-ups, but in actuality they cannot. These companies market high fashion outfits that may be revealing or inappropriate for kids of this age. These types of clothing appeal to kids, especially girls. “Mommy I want this, mommy I want that,” is all I can hear when I am at my job. I work at American Eagle Outfitters and it is astonishing what I hear throughout the day. These young girls want to wear mini-skirts and low-cut shirts and I am shocked that their parents allow them to wear these outfits. I understand that it is the parents’ judgment, but this is making kids sexualized at a young age. I believe that if kids did not care about what they wear or care about what’s cool and what’s not, they would be able to have fun and be kids.

There may be a solution to this problem for parents as well as kids. For the parental side I suggest giving your children the independence that they desire, but to an extent. Kids need to know the boundaries for what they can wear for their age group. Parents should also talk to their younger children and let them know that they cannot have what their older siblings have. Children need to understand who the parent is in the relationship. If these boundaries are set between child and parent then there should be no problem. Children will be able to be fashionistas and have their independence, while parents will feel they are in control and that their children are dressed appropriately.

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