“Wow, That lady is crazy. She has way too much time on her hands.”
“Of course the shorts should be cut differently, boys are just physically bigger than girls.”
“Those clothes are cute while they are little, as long as they aren’t wearing them as teenagers.”
“We would love to run your story on our show, but what exactly is the angle here?”
“Oh, just shut up and shop somewhere else.”
“Well, what can we do? Sex sells.”
I care. I care a lot.
I care because, with any luck, my kids will be adults for four times longer than they are children.
I care because I am not raising girls; I am raising women.
I care because my bible says that women are “clothed in strength and dignity” (Proverbs 31:25) and this?
This offers neither.
I care because, in just one week, half a million other people told me they care too.
When I was doing the pre-interview for Good Morning America, I had a several phone conversations behind the scenes, as they tried to decide if the story was one they wanted to share. The producer of the segment asked me over the phone why this was a topic that was important, so I told her why.
Because when I asked a college professor of Human Development if it was true that young boys are physically bigger than girls, she was able to point me to a college text book and the CDC growth charts that prove that this misconception is just is not true. Up to age 6, after age 9, and until adolescence, boys are actually not the physically larger sex. At least not in any way that would be considered practically significant.
Because there is a reason that you will never see Oprah Winfrey, Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama, or really any of the most wealthy and powerful women in the world wearing clothing like that. Go ahead, hop over to Forbes.com and tell me how many pictures you find of influential women wearing a 1″ inseam.
While you may find a few wealthy women in the entertainment industry to whom you can point, when has Hollywood ever proved itself to be a good moral compass?
I care because the American Psychological Association has done an entire report on the sexualization of young girls.
I care because it only takes 8 minutes to watch this video from the APA and see what young middle schooled-aged girls actually think of the clothes and advertising images being presented to them.
I care because it has already been proven over and over again that less revealing clothing for children will sell. It was proven when Lolly Wolly Doodle was founded by one mom who started sewing her own clothes for her children, because the ones in the store weren’t appropriate. Five years later she is now the CEO of a $20 million business.
It was proven when Girls Will Be had their Kickstarter campaign fully funded and ran out of inventory, and is still struggling just to keep up with demand.
It is proven to me every time I walk into my local Target or Kohl’s or wherever and, although they do offer Bermuda length shorts, they are almost immediately sold out of those options in both of my daughters’ sizes.
I care because when I went to Target.com to search for longer inseams, over and over I saw this:
and I thought about my former middle school students, the ones who live in a district where the poverty level is around 40%, the ones whose families often do not have internet access or credit cards for placing online orders. I thought about the families who sometimes don’t even have a shipping address to put in the line because they don’t know where they will be living next week.
The kids who can’t afford to shop at the higher end stores that came up over and over again in my comments section.
Again and again, a well-meaning mom would comment on that viral post, trying to offer a suggestion for an alternative place to find better quality clothes, and another mother would reply, “I love the look of those clothes! But we just can’t afford it.”
And I could just imagine the second mother’s shoulders slumping as she tried to figure out what she was going to have to cut from her grocery budget in order to afford just one pair of $25-$30 shorts for each of her children.
Over and over again, I received comments and emails from mothers who said things such as, “We own those shorts in your blog post, the ones with the daisies, but..”
“…our daughter wears bike shorts under them.”
“…I sewed on a ruffle at the bottom to add a few inches.”
“…we only wear them with a colorful pair of tights underneath.”
“…I bought two pairs when they were on sale. We used the extra fabric to make one longer pair.”
“…they are only good for wearing underneath of skirts or dresses.”
Mothers who are using their ingenuity to improve what is available to them. Mothers who do not necessarily want what is being offered to them, but bought it anyway because it was available and it was what they could afford. How does the retailer know what we did with it afterwards? All the sales report tells them is that they just sold some more very short shorts and a pair of bike shorts or a pair of tights. So mothers are feeling stuck, and retailers are thinking they are selling what we want.
You say it is fine to teach our children to dress like adults? After all, this is America. I completely agree. What kind of adults do we want to dress them like? As for me, if I’m going to teach my girls to dress like adults, I’m going to teach them to dress like women who own real estate, have 401K’s, and life insurance. I’m going to teach them to dress like adults who own their own business or intend to run for Congress.
I’m going to teach them to speak with their mouths and their written words instead of their bodies, because if I have learned anything from the experience of having that blog post become international news this week, it is that our words and our actions are even more powerful than our vaginas. And that, my friends, is very, very powerful.