Change is in the air. It’s getting to be that time of year, when we exchange our Winter sweaters for warm weather clothing. Sweat suits for swim suits and 12,000 pairs of flip-flops. Well, at least it is here in Houston. I don’t know about you, but going through this process with my girls is not one of my favorite things to do. We spend the majority of a week with piles and piles of clothing strewn around their room. It is endless sorting and trying on clothes to decide what stays and what goes. Every year I swear that I’m not going to buy them too much stuff. Then, of course, I do. It’s not me, it’s them. Okay, it’s me too because it’s fun and they are so darn cute. Let’s just say that it’s a process and leave it at that.
I like to start with a shopping trip on my own without the girls and all the drama that can surround this sort of occasion. Constant squeals of “Mommy, mommy, mommy…please, please, please can I have this?!” Or, “I LOVE ALL OF THE SPARKLES! IT’S SO PRETTY!” Or, “Why is it that what I want is never in my size?! IT’S NO FAIR! (dissolves into tears)” I’m sure you can understand my desire to avoid all the theatrics. So, yesterday I ventured out and found my way to a couple of their favorite stores to get started.
As I walked around the store staring at various atrocities that pass as clothing for little girls (apparently the thought is that you can never have too much pink or too many sequins), something felt wrong. I was searching for tops and shorts specifically for my 8-year-old, but nothing looked right. She’s gotten a bit taller, but she still wears the same size for the most part, yet her clothes, particularly her tops, fit differently. The next size often looked too big or out of proportion. I stood there staring at a wall full of loud, bedazzled garments when it finally hit me – I was looking for clothing to accommodate my daughter’s developing breasts.
Now, she’s no Dolly Parton…wait… Dolly is so retro. I mean, she’s no Kate Upton (better?), but there are definitely changes and they’re noticeable. While I am not trying to camouflage or hide her body, we do need a better fit than what she’s used to wearing. We went through a phase about 6 months ago when she was absolutely obsessed with breasts – when and how big would they grow – and insisted on wearing bras long before it was warranted. She still doesn’t wear one, but we compromised and bought half camis. Somehow, the actual change in her was very subconscious to me and it wasn’t until I looked at the narrow silhouettes on all of those tops that I realized that they were not made for her. Things have changed.
I’m not ready. I’ll tell you now, I’m just not ready. Obviously I have known that this day was coming, just maybe not so soon. I was an early bloomer, but even then I was somewhere between the 4th and 5th grades when my mom bought me my first training bra. I barely remember it, but I’m sure that I was very impressed with myself. My daughter certainly was certainly impressed with herself. However, standing there I realized that there is no turning back now. Which brings me to the real reason that I’m upset.
I really don’t have a problem with my daughter’s or anyone else’s development. We all go through it and I do have grown children that have already crossed this bridge. Obviously, I get it. What I do have a problem with is how a girl’s body is objectified and sexualized from early ages. I am troubled by the way our culture blames something so natural as a girl developing breasts and hips as her way of creating something evil with which to dominate and control boys. I’m not ready to have to guide my daughter through this misogynistic and sexist world.
You and I both know what’s coming. The teasing from young boys which, as we get older turns into cat calls from grown men. Scrutiny from both male and female about our size and proportions. Peer pressure to fit in that makes us feel too fat or too skinny. Maybe we’re too bootylicious and/or buxom or not enough. How about too short or too tall. All of these comments are hurled at us from the moment that we are born. I don’t want either of my girls to have to deal with any of that quite yet.
I don’t want to have a continued debate about what’s modest and what isn’t. Modesty is subjective, therefore what’s considered modest by some is considered scandalous by others. I don’t want to continue the discussion on how boys will be boys, but girls have to make sure that their manner of dress, actions and demeanor don’t tempt young men into doing things that men do when they are enticed – they just can’t help themselves. That’s called rape, it’s an act of violence and it’s completely HIS fault. I want my daughters to embrace their bodies and all the changes that are coming without experiencing all the weight society puts on us just for being female. I’m not ready although it seems that we have already started down that path.
I was standing there with tears in my eyes, accepting my reality when a woman next to me pointed at a blouse hanging up high and said “That sure is a pretty top.” I turned and smiled while apologizing for being in her way. She assured me that I wasn’t and explained that she was out looking for tops that would work for her daughter’s developing breasts. You don’t say? We exchanged stories – our observations and concerns – and we felt better knowing that we’re not alone. Apparently there are a lot of moms out there in the same boat. Who knew?
I did manage to find some cute tops along with a couple of pair of shorts, flip-flops, a swim suit, goggles and 2 pair of pajamas. I bought too much again, didn’t I? She loved all of it and gushed “Oh, Momma, you know me so well, don’t you?” I do and I intend to make this journey as easy and as fun for her and her sister as possible. I will teach them that they are strong, capable and powerful girls that can grow into strong, capable and powerful women. They will know that loving pink, purple, glitter and feathers if you so choose is fine. It’s also fine if you don’t. They will know that they are much more than what they look like, but what they look like is beautiful. They will know that they are accepted and loved. Finally, they will receive more tops and shorts and shoes and whatnot because that’s just how we roll. We like fashion in this house and that’s okay.
Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine real soon. Just some minor adjustments, but stay tuned because I have a feeling that this will not be my last post about these impending changes.