The other day, Beaver and I went shopping. Her idea. She’s only almost seven, but already there is NO way I can pick clothes for her. Unless I want them to hang, unworn, in her wardrobe. ‘I would never let my daughter pick her own clothes,‘ a friend said. ‘She can pick them when she can pay for them.‘ Good point. Should kids wear what we tell them or should we allow them to have some input? What say you?
As NOT seen in Vogue.
My girls have dressed themselves for some time now. I think you can probably tell. Here is a selection of outfits that I have NOT had any input in.
Expressive or lazy?
My official line is that I think it’s important for them to have some form of self-expression in lives that are otherwise decided for them. My unofficial line is I’m a bit lazy and can’t always face the arguments that ensue if I try to tell them what to wear. (By the way, if it’s a church day or a special occasion, I’m absolutely telling them what they can and, more importantly, can’t wear to avoid them looking like ladies of the night. ‘No. You can’t wear hot pants with wellies and ear muffs. BECAUSE IT’S INAPPROPRIATE!”)
Maybe I’m a walkover. I don’t know. But amidst some of the crazy outfits they wear, sometimes they get it really, really right. And I think, ‘Wow. HOW did they put that together?‘ and I secretly hope they are going to be creative geniuses who will keep me in shoes in my old age rather than crazy, old bag ladies.
And laziness aside, I do believe in them having some choice in who they are and how the world sees them.
But at ages, four and six, am I being premature in this view?
Shop till you drop.
Once we’d got the shopping rules established – ‘We aren’t shopping for you Mum, you’re not allowed to look at anything.’ – it was really interesting watching Beaver shop. Buzzing around. Picking up things. Putting them back. Checking sizes. It’s not like she flicks through fashion magazines or follows fashion bloggers. But she knew what she was looking for all the same.
And mostly, I approved of what she chose. Jeans, shorts and slogan t-shirts. That’s pretty much my outfit every day. Who doesn’t love a slogan t-shirt? There were a few, questionable items I had to diplomatically steer her away from. The sandals that were so glitzy they looked like they should have been hanging from a dance floor ceiling and the Minion hat that went with absolutely nothing. I gave in on the Monday-Friday knickers. Even though I know that’s going to come back and bite me on the a*** when I haven’t done the washing and we have a row about wearing Thursday knickers on a Monday.
And I admired her confidence. Even though I know that peer-pressure is starting to creep in, every now and then.
Long may it last.
Self-expression or self-destruction?
When we got home, we had to have a full on fashion show. For Daddy Pig. Where Beaver tried on every single outfit and every single outfit combination.
There was music. There was dancing. There was twerking, I think. And funny, involuntary movements that made us wonder if she was dancing or having a seizure.
‘Is this weird?’ I whispered to Daddy Pig.
‘It’s, erm, interesting,’ he said.
‘Maybe we’ll just get her dance lessons.’
And, in that moment, I wondered if I’m encouraging her to grow up too fast, too soon. Or is this just how life is now? Is it ok? Or in seven more years am I going to be wishing I hadn’t given her any free rein and dressed her in head to toe paisley, like my mum did me?
Or worse, am I going to have created such a fashionista, that she dresses better than me and I’m reduced to asking to borrow her clothes, because I can’t afford to buy my own?
Right. Where’s that paisley all-in-one gone…?