I can remember a picture from my childhood of my neighbor friend, a boy, wearing an old pair of my mom’s high heels. The thought of it makes me smile. Apparently I won out in choosing what it was we’d play that day. (In his defense, he had a book on his head so it was more like a balance game and not completely just dress up.)
Those were the days, when little girls dressing up meant mom’s old clothes, jewelry, and shoes. Dressing up meant shiny fabrics and shoes that made noise when you walked in them. I loved dressing up. I’d walk in my high heels around the 4’ x 4’ square of hardwood we had in our house, just to hear the noise they made.
Dress up is different now, though. At the recent convention Aaron and I attended we were surprised to find that the convention center we were frequenting was also being frequented by many, many cheerleaders and dance group members for a competition they were having. (Short side note: I’m not against cheerleading or dancing. I think they are both sports in which a participant must be both athletic and talented to perform well. I just disagree with what it is teaching our daughters.) The attire of these specific cheerleaders, age 5 – 15, was extremely short, tight skirts, with a slit of course, a top that covered just slightly more than a sports bra, tennis shoes, a bow as big as their head, and a face layered with make-up. The attire was the same regardless of the age-group.
I was appalled.
When I was growing up, daddy’s still sat on the porch with shot-guns, they didn’t hold the hands of their half-naked five year old as they walked them around downtown Atlanta. In our day of age I would be terrified to walk around with my daughter dressed in such a way. You just don’t know what creeps are out there lurking around.
Just as importantly, though, it irritates me the message that we are sending to these little bitty girls about their bodies and what it takes to earn approval. Their value is not based on character or personality, unfortunately, it is not even based solely on performance. Their value is based on glittery make-up and showing lots and lots of skin. We wonder why girls lack in the self esteem category... well, parents, what are you doing to aid in your daughter’s struggle? Are you purchasing her more revealing clothing to help her self esteem, or are you taking the road less traveled and teaching her the value and wonder that comes with just being her.
God willing I ever have a daughter, I can be honest and say I’m already fearful of the arguments to come regarding clothing. However, I will say that I’ll lay down in front of the check out counter before I’ll let my daughter settle on clothing that devalues her as a human being and as a woman.