Monica's Note: It has been a while since we have been on the blog. While we have been very busy here at Pennymeade picking fabrics and getting orders out to stores, we have also spent a lot of time discussing the blog that was featured in the Huffington Post last week: Binkies and Briefcases' ' A Target Intervention on Behalf of My Daughters. ' Dressing our young girls modestly is a topic close to our hearts. I think this response from my colleague hits the nail on the head….
An Open Letter to Parents of Teen Daughters…
I’m all for voicing to stores what we want to see on their shelves… especially when it comes to our kids. Fewer dyes in food… Please! Less sugar… All for it! Longer shorts… by all means! BUT… I want to offer a word on Target and stores in general. They sell what sells. And while there may be legions of moms like me who prefer a little more modesty, there are far more who are ponying up and voting for shorter shorts with their dollars.
And I get that.
I’m sure Target employs hordes of analysts and fashion followers whose very job is to find out what their customers want, and to respond in kind. Were we to create a culture in which a little modesty were admired, where the trend was of the “less is more” (and I mean skin, not fabric!) variety, then I am certain Target and plenty of other stores would offer just that.
But that is not the trend and I understand why Target and their retail friends offer what sells. This is America after all, where capitalism is king and the mighty dollar speaks. So, instead of imploring Target, I implore the mothers of teenagers who my daughters look up to and try to emulate. And I implore the pop stars and Hollywood icons they try to emulate.
Please. Let’s respect ourselves... our girls... for more than their beauty.
Let them be noticed for their wit and humor and confidence... a great vocabulary, endless curiosity, and an aptitude for mental math... Not an extra five inches of flesh in what already seem like endless legs, taut with youth and tanned from easy days at the pool.
I certainly wouldn’t be the first mother to beg former Disney stars and the like to tone it down. I also don’t expect I’d get any further than those who have gone before me. But as the mother of two girls who are told “No” a whole lot more than they’d like, I do wish parents of teenage girls would press the issue of their authority when it comes to what their daughters are wearing.
Because my little girls are looking.
When my oldest was in Kindergarten she joined the cheer squad. A super sweet, smart, beautiful high school student assisted our coach at weekly practice and our little girls adored her. And while there we reso many qualities of that teen I would have loved my daughter to mirror, it was the crop tops and low rise short shorts that mostly caught her attention. At just 6 years old, my daughter suddenly wanted to cut her tank tops and lower her pants to expose her still baby-fat-buried belly button.
Do I fault Target? No. I didn’t buy the crop tops then and I don’t buy them still. But, I sure do wish that teen’s mom or the coach had suggested that such attire isn’t appropriate.
So, moms and dads, trust me when I say that I know how hard it is to say no. Our kids are growing up in a world where it is hard to avoid the overtly sexualized media that pushes into our homes. Take a look at what the women of the Today Show looked like “then” compared to “now” and we can all attest to the fact that our girls are exposed to very attractive women using all of their assets in a way that captivates the audience. And again, I get it. Lower necklines, higher ratings. Just like Target and their short shorts.
But that doesn’t mean I throw in the towel. When my fifth grader comes down in the morning with leggings and a top that doesn’t cover her bottom, she’s sent back up. When we simply could not agree on a pair of acceptable jean shorts this past summer, we went without them all together. But the eleven years I spent teaching the tween age set has certainly taught me how important it is for her to feel like she fits in. So, I wish there were more moms – especially moms with girls older than mine – who were fighting the good fight. Just because the short shorts are offered, doesn’t mean we have to buy them. It's hard. Not having limits would probably makes things run much more smoothly here at home, but I am up for the challenge.
I see so many smart, beautiful, kind-hearted young women around here. They are poised to become the next doctors and teachers, the next wave of elected officials and researchers. I know that. I see so many attributes I want my girls to imitate – their efforts in the classroom, their presence on stage, their service in the community. But, often, it’s their clothes my girls see and imitate – if only in their bedrooms where they play “college,” taking selfies and swiping at their pretend smartphones.
I’m grateful to Target for listening to the #modestmavens who want a little more coverage for their girls. I support their efforts, but fear we are fighting a machine too big to affect change. Capitalism seems to have a way of winning - even when facing the fiercest of mamas. Instead, imagine if we held tighter to our convictions and affected change right in our own homes... folding a little less to social norms, standing our ground, saying what our kids may not want to hear. Here’s hoping that there’s a few more among us who are willing to say no to skimpy and give scores of little girls behind them so much more than a great pair of legs to look up to.