Tuesday, August 5, 2008


It's time for school shopping around here. I remember how much I loved to get all my new back to school items when I was younger. Fresh new pencils, a brand new Trapper Keeper, the very cutest notebooks with kittens on them, the Smurf lunchbox, ahhhhhh. And don't even get me started on the smell of new clothing. I LOVED August. My kids, however, would rather send me out to get it all while they stay home to play. Sigh. My kids don't mind shopping so much, but they really don't have that many opinions on what they wear or which store it comes from - whew! - which makes my life much more affordable. Even my 11 year old, going to Middle School for the first time, said I could just go get her some cute stuff from Target - Hallelujah!! She is not picky at all. She also has no mind to match anything correctly, but that my friends is another post in itself.....

During our mall outing with friends yesterday, my oldest saw a cute shirt at Gap. It said "Little Miss Chatterbox", which I must agree, fits her to personality to a "T"! It was cute and I agreed to purchase it for her, seeing as how I picked out the rest of her school wardrobe. "It looks a bit, uhhhm, well, why don't you go try it on first?". And she happily skipped off to the fitting room with a size 12 shirt. A few minutes later she came back, without the shirt on. "It doesn't fit, not at all." Ok, I sent her back with a 16, because after I took a good look at the shirt I knew what was about to happen.
You see the picture of the shirt outline and then the shape of my child. This is not going to work, especially because the shirt is made of super thin, very taut cotton which is made to conform and hug the body. Even going up by 2 sizes, the shirt fits like a sausage stuffed into pantyhose. Or something, you can get your own visual. And at 2 sizes up we are at the largest shirt in the store and at a dead end.

What hurts me the most is that almost every store we go to, the pre-teen girl section is blanketed with shirts in just this shape - hourglass. This limits our selections greatly and it causes my daughter to say, "Oh, that shirt is for skinny girls" or "I'm too chubby for that." The last time I checked, most 11 year olds are pre-puberty meaning they are not shaped like an hour-glass. Hell, I'm almost menopausal and I've never been shaped like an hour-glass. My kid is on the far end of medium, a bit of a chubette, but she is not a plus sized gal. She is a pre-teen, encased in baby fat who will likely emerge into a medium sized build.

On the other end of the spectrum are the "skinny girls" who can wear these shirts. There are plenty of them, the girls who have started to take shape and don't have any chub to hide things that are beginning to pop out. I have a neice with this shape and I can tell you that she does NOT want to wear anything that will hug and conform to her body either.

It is just wrong, that my child is being made to believe that she is abnormal because people in the fashion industry design mainstream clothing with the intent to show off a body. These are little girls, trying to figure out what the hell is happening to them. They certainly don't need to worry about clothing that causes them to feel bad about themselves, or worse yet, to draw attention to the things that are freaking them out.

I can see the long road that my daughter has ahead of her in learning to accept her body. I can only guide her and hope for the best, but in this society I'm certain that she and many other girls of all shape and size, will have many more hurdles than victories in self acceptance.