Clothing, fashion, self-expression, individuality... a spin-off discussion about clothing and its significance for ourselves and our kids. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 10:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is a spin off from a thread about uniforms in which the topic of clothing and self-expression & individuality came up on several occasions. That got me wondering about how we dress ourselves and our kids (or how our kids dress themselves) and to what extent self-expression and individuality is part of that. And, what we think about that. 


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#2 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 11:09 AM
 
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Well, my kids certainly dress themselves. I may direct where we purchase clothes, but they pick them out and put together the combos.  When they were younger they were certainly very conscious of what clothes they wanted to wear too. 

 

I'd be interested to hear others' takes on this topic, too.


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#3 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll go first... 

 

First, although I struggle a good bit with who "gets" to call themselves an artist, I suppose I could be defined that way. I do art. I express myself through visual art quite a bit and I create art on a regular basis. I am also, I guess, "weird"/"artsy". For myself, I never really considered clothing as a way to express myself. I like clothing. I love thrifting. I have accumulated a wonderful collection of vintage dresses that I ration and wear on special occasions. Still, this doesn't feel like expression to me. It never has. 

 

Along these same lines, I have struggled with the idea of dressing a certain way to "fit in".  In my case, this would be dressing "alternative" so my artsy peers could recognize me as "one of them".  To me, this felt like trying to get into a club where I wouldn't want to belong. ;-)  

 

All of that said, I do think fashion is a form of creativity. Especially fashion design. 

 

What do you all think? 

 

As a parent of two girls, I am concerned with fashion and the idea of self-expression being a main outlet for girls. My DC went to a school that I think actively discouraged clothing concerns beyond comfort and practicality. From this, I think we saw kids gravitate (or not) towards fashion in a more unadulterated way than what I guess you may see in a different environment. My DC just didn't pick up on much of anything in terms of fashion -- she still prioritizes comfort. Though she does like to "match" these days. 

 

I can see how easily it could be for a pre-teen to be influenced - both by peers and by parents. 

 

I also notice a sort of judgement about what is "conformity" and what is "expression".  I don't really understand exactly how we evaluate that...but my guess is that it really comes down to what we may personally find interesting, pleasing to look at, or what particular group we want ourselves or our kids to identify with. 

 

I think this stuff is pretty interesting. I mean, clothing is so many things, really. It's shelter from the elements. Yea. It's modesty standards. Ok. It's a signal to likely peers about what you're all about. ...where is all the expression and individuality? Is it overstated by some? Or no? Can I just not related because that's now how it feels to me or (so far) to my kids? 


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#4 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, my kids certainly dress themselves. I may direct where we purchase clothes, but they pick them out and put together the combos.  When they were younger they were certainly very conscious of what clothes they wanted to wear too. 

 

I'd be interested to hear others' takes on this topic, too.

My DC's do not really pick their clothes but the do dress themselves and have a lot to choose from. We are lucky to have mountains of hand-me-downs and my DC's both get clothing gifts 2-3x/year from a few family members. But being in a store picking out what they want isn't something either of them have ever experienced. I do occasionally thrift for basics and DC will sometimes come with and could pick out things for herself....but she doesn't usually want to come. 

 

Since mine were young they picked their clothes from what we were given. Often for comfort and with weird combinations. 

 

Full disclosure... I suppose I do weed out things that I can't stand to touch (polyester PJs) or things that I just find so ugly. There are a few kids clothing things that I don't like (glitter princess). So, it isn't 100% free to pick from whatever finds its way in our home. Something to think about, I guess. 


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#5 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 01:40 PM
 
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Well, I can tell you how it is for my kids. We don't buy too much new, but when we do I let them choose. We do thrift shop and consignment shop, too, and get some hand-me-downs, too, but I also let them pick there, too. I do sometimes pick things up for them that I think they might like and I usually give them some clothes as part of their Christmas gifts (so they don't pick those out), but most of the time they pick out what they want.

 

They are not influenced by current trends in anyway that I can discern. They like the things they like. They put together very unique combinations. They alter clothes (especially dd1) and reconstruct them. They dye clothing, sew on it, color on it. They are not teen scene followers, but pretty much dance to the beat of their own drums. (They actively hate the teen phenom$$ Justin Beiber and One Direction, known around here as One Dimension). They don't like to shop in the pre-teen girl shop Justice (too flashy, too noisy). They don't dress like any particular group at school, either. (None of that, "I have to have these jeans because all the popular girls are wearing them" and no "I have to have this leather jacket because all the punks are wearing leather jackets, either.)

 

I, personally, can't imagine telling my particular kids what to wear, although I know other people do tell their kids what to wear (pick out their clothes every day, etc) and the kids are fine with that and maybe even like it. I have given my girls a couple of alternatives for important formal occasions like funerals and I have let them know when something is too small or unintentionally too skimpy (long t-shirt over short shorts unintentionally looking like dd1 didn't have any shorts on at all). But pretty much they do their own thing. It's like Halloween every day over here seeing what funky combos they come up with, especially dd1. 

 

Y'know I have known grown up folks who didn't mind others dressing them. My good friend's parents used to do a lot of dressing alike, with matching sweaters, etc. I think my DH would throw me out if I started trying to tell him what to wear or match his clothing (actually he'd just look at me like I was crazy). My kids just have their own minds, too.

 

Do you ever not feel like yourself if you have to dress a certain way for an occasion? Like maybe you have to wear a very conservative business suit, or an evening gown, or even shorts and flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt for a required luau (if such a thing could exist) or some older lady clothes? Can you imagine an outfit that you might wear that would make you psychologically very uncomfortable (not physically uncomfortable because of scratchy fabric)? For me, I hate to dress up. I always have although I grew up going to church every Sunday and dressing up every week. It makes me feel like I'm not myself. It's not the fabric, but it just doesn't feel like me, y'know? 

 

My kids, especially dd1, have strong spirits and strong convictions about who they are and what they want to wear. I would never do anything to thwart that unless it was too skimpy (and I'm not super strict about that) or said something inappropriate on it (can't imagine my particular kids ever wanting wear anything with "sexy" on the butt). 


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#6 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Beanma!  I have so many thoughts on the issue of clothing and individuality. I'd love to hear more from someone who feels strongly about this for them self and how that extends to other creative outlets. 

 

Are your kids especially expressive in other parts of their lives (in writing, musically, visual arts or whatever)?  How do you express yourself/your individuality? Are you into clothing/fashion? 

 

I wonder about the origins of identity and clothing for some people (adults and kids).  I know for some it can be about counter culture or fitting in.  I know a lot of artists...I think I'm going to start asking them this question. For most, they wear pretty boring clothes - though there are the hipsters a' plenty. 

 

I do have one young friend (10 or so) who is super in to fashion and it doesn't appear to be coming from home or school - just very much what she is into. I know an older boy who was like that as well. It's not that I don't think fashion can be this pure thing for kids or adults...  But the passion that drives clothing for many adults and kids that I know seems out of proportion, I guess, to the passion they have for other creative outlets... if that makes sense. 

 

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Do you ever not feel like yourself if you have to dress a certain way for an occasion? Like maybe you have to wear a very conservative business suit, or an evening gown, or even shorts and flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt for a required luau (if such a thing could exist) or some older lady clothes? Can you imagine an outfit that you might wear that would make you psychologically very uncomfortable (not physically uncomfortable because of scratchy fabric)? For me, I hate to dress up. I always have although I grew up going to church every Sunday and dressing up every week. It makes me feel like I'm not myself. It's not the fabric, but it just doesn't feel like me, y'know? 

 

 

 

Oh, sure!  Not me so much because I tend to look at these occasions as ways to dress a little in costume. I can really do it up when we go to the country club once/year. I imagine I  go a little overboard and most of the younger guests (like under 70) know that I'm taking the piss a bit. Actualy, you see this a bit in the uniforms in our city - lots of kids going over the top with bow ties, knee highs and etc. 


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#7 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess also that the issue of clothing/fashion/design as an art form and what you wear as an extension of your identity.  

 

There is also the issue of respect.  I know that what you wear can be about that for people - about respect for self and respect for others, environments and etc. I think of that as kind of "old school" but I think it's still around for sure and maybe even coming back a bit. 


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#8 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry...one last thought... 

 

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My kids, especially dd1, have strong spirits and strong convictions about who they are and what they want to wear. 

 

It occurs to me just now that you could take away the last part and this is a lot of the kids that I know - many of whom aren't that into what they wear - and some that are.  


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#9 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 03:20 PM
 
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I guess also that the issue of clothing/fashion/design as an art form and what you wear as an extension of your identity.  

 

There is also the issue of respect.  I know that what you wear can be about that for people - about respect for self and respect for others, environments and etc. I think of that as kind of "old school" but I think it's still around for sure and maybe even coming back a bit. 

Warning: what follows is a rant.
The whole self-expression through clothing thing drives me batty because I really don't care much about clothes beyond whether they're comfortable and practical or not.  I completely respect anybody who chooses to dress themselves artfully (just like I respect anybody who paints, sings, sculpts, or practices any other art form), but it annoys me that such a large segment of the population attributes so much meaning to other people's clothing choices.  My clothing choices mean that I thought I would be facing cold/hot/rainy/windy/icy/sunny conditions; they are not an expression of my political/religious views, and are not meant as a sign of respect/disrespect to anybody that I might come into contact with.

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#10 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My clothing choices mean that I thought I would be facing cold/hot/rainy/windy/icy/sunny conditions; they are not an expression of my political/religious views, and are not meant as a sign of respect/disrespect to anybody that I might come into contact with.

Yes, same for me for the most part. I suppose that the clothes I pick do have a little to do with a sort of moral/political thing in that I like to buy used and don't mind if that shows. OTOH, I do have a bit of guilt about in that I think my ability to do that has a lot to do with my own privilege. But, that has to do with a slight hipster vibe that I'm sure I give off... I think people who give off a total "I wear practical clothing" vibe do not rub people the wrong way that some thrift shopping hipsters may. ;-)  

 

That said, I am OK with DC feeling a sense of obligation to show respect with her clothing in those rare times that it comes up - theater, grandparents. 


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#11 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 05:50 PM
 
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I don't think my clothing expresses more than just what I like aesthetically or in some cases my interests (some of my tees). I feel that it's the same way for my kids, at least at this age.

I think it's unfortunate though such an emphasis is placed on clothes, especially regarding "gendered" clothes. My daughter has many things she has picked from the "boys" section; just as I almost exclusively pick out my shirts from the men's section (I am constantly gifted clothes from my sister that are deemed more feminine and work appropriate - not because my other clothes are inappropriate at work, but because they're "mens".)


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#12 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 08:50 PM
 
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Yes, my kids are super creative. My older dd1 is interested in visual arts primarily, but also likes to do some video making, and script writing, and collaborates with her sister on stories. She carries her sketch book everywhere, to school, to restaurants, on trips to the store, to the library, sleepovers, etc. My dd2 (age 10) is the writer. She loves to write and comes home and writes almost every day on her computer. She writes pretty long short stories (40-50+ pages for some of the longer ones). She also likes to draw and does a little painting, photography, and videoing. 

 

I'm not really comfortable saying that my kids are into "fashion" because to me that has a connotation of keeping up with the latest trends and they are not about that at all. They are just about expressing themselves through clothing the same way they might decorate their rooms or you might decorate your home. You choose the paint colors and what pictures to hang on the wall and where the furniture goes and what other decorations you want to have in your home. You might be quite minimalist or maybe you're really into big splashes of color, but it doesn't have to be the latest thing in home decor, y'know? It's what works for you to live in. That's how it is for my kids and clothes — what works for them to live in. The main thing, though, is that they want to be the ones to decide what they wear. They don't want other people (be it a school requiring a uniform, or mom) to decide for them.

 

I am not into the latest fashion trends or expressing myself through clothing at all beyond what feels emotionally comfortable for me. I'm mainly all about jeans and t-shirts and have been ever since I was a very little kid (like 4). I recently found a picture of myself as a kid at the lake in the summer in cut off jean shorts and a day camp t-shirt. I was probably about 6 or so.

 

If I had to wear an ugly uniform every day to work I would feel uncomfortable. My kids never wear collared shirts for example and I rarely do myself. I am definitely not a fashion plate, but I would feel uncomfortable wearing, say an ugly quilted vest over a turtleneck printed with little ducks, with khaki pants and penny loafers — so not me! I want to wear clothes that I feel like myself in, and more often than not that's jeans and a t-shirt, but I will dress up as the occasion demands (but on the low end of dressed up — not dressing very up for the Country Club). My dd1's school PTA-like organization decided to have a formal/fancy gala silent auction last year. That just sounded horrible to me, so I didn't go. I'd much prefer to make my contributions to the school w/o having to wear clothes I am not comfortable in. For a wedding or funeral I will dress up, but that's pretty much it at this point.

 

To reiterate, my kids don't have a passion for clothing. They have a passion for making their own decisions and that extends to clothing. 


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#13 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 09:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have two sisters in fashion (one a painting major at art school - the other a general arts minor in college). I don't have a negative connotation to fashion. Fashion, like other forms of art -- is in many ways about trends (movements, if you prefer). I think that's "ok". I wonder about all of this... Is it "bad" for a child to be into clothes if it is about trends - fashion...but "good" or "ok" if it is about self-expression?  What if someone feels expressive in the new looks?  There is something there for me. Being fashionable is bad but being super into what you wear so long as it's about about individuality and expression is good. But, but that's fashion...no?   

 

Do we have anyone in fashion that can comment? 


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#14 of 26 Old 11-01-2013, 09:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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To reiterate, my kids don't have a passion for clothing. They have a passion for making their own decisions and that extends to clothing. 

In my last post I was kind of riffing of a combination of things I hear from friends, online and etc.  I don't want you to feel like that last post is about your kids... it isn't.  I do think that kids just being kind of on the end of the "strong willed" perspective. Or just kids who like to make their own choices about stuff is a different thing than kids (or parents) who are very supportive of clothing as a form of expression. 

 

That's the thing I'm mainly curious about. How we draw the lines -- what is being a "fashionista" and what is being a passionate creative kid (or adult) interested in fashion - and how we as parents evaluate all of that.  How we influence that. 


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#15 of 26 Old 11-02-2013, 07:26 AM
 
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My DD has chosen her clothing and what to wear since she was old enough to express her opinion (around two). Her clothes are definitely a part of who she is and they change depending on her mood and interests.

I also wear different clothes and do my hair differently depending on how I am feeling. There was a time when I just threw on clothes and didn't care but this was maybe also an expression of how I was feeling because I was clinically depressed and didn't care about much.

Even if it is decided that clothes aren't a way to express yourself that doesn't mean it is right to impose clothing decisions on our children. I am not a big fan of imposing unnecessary limits on kids and there isn't much about clothing that needs to be limited. There are so fee things kids can get free range on the way they can with clothing options. I think this is a perfect area for using Alfie Kohn's framework for deciding if limits are necessary.
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#16 of 26 Old 11-02-2013, 07:39 AM
 
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I don't know that I'm so much supportive of clothing as a form of expression (as in I don't usually go out of my way to actively encourage it) as I am not controlling about what my kids wear.  I'm just live and let live really and that's why uniforms don't sit well with me and why they don't sit well with my kids. They do often choose to express themselves through clothing.

 

It's an individual expression like a hairstyle. At my dd1's middle/high school there is no dress code regarding hair. We have kids with all kindsa crazy hair — lots and lots of dyed hair. I'm surprised no one has dreads — they did at her old school — but that would be fine here, too. They have buzz cuts and long hair, pink hair, blue hair, bleached hair, etc. Sometimes my kids dye their hair, sometimes they put it up in funky ways, sometimes they wear it down, sometimes they put in braids, sometimes they put lots of clips and hairbands in it. As long as it's relatively clean, I want them to do whatever they want. 

 

Similarly, as long as their clothing isn't overly stained or dirty or overly skimpy I pretty much fine with them wearing whatever they want to. We had one little friend when dd1 was in elementary school who wore shorts and a tank top every day of the year. It was his "thing", even when it was 40 degrees out in January. He claimed he didn't get cold. I'm sure my kids would find ways to adapt to a uniform policy if they absolutely had to, but I don't think they would ever choose it for themselves, their love of the Harry Potter books and movies notwithstanding. They just like to do what they wanna do and I do think that having to wear clothing that they are not mentally comfortable in (some of those school uniforms are downright dowdy) would really cause them undue stress and anxiety. That's just never a battle I would choose to engage in given the alternative of free expression.


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#17 of 26 Old 11-02-2013, 04:26 PM
 
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I'm a throw on whatever's clean and fits kind of person. I'm hoping to get to a point where I can care more, but for now, that's where I am.

My first grade DD loves "cute" clothes. She loves critters, cute designs, and cheetah/leopard print. And dressing like her doll. She's equally comfortable in skorts, leggings, and comfy jeans. She likes what she likes and doesn't care what anyone else is wearing. I'm really good at combining a great sale with a coupon and getting clothes at prices I like. We usually buy new but also get hand-me-downs from a friend whose daughter has similar tastes. But, I consign outgrown clothes twice a year, sell to our locally owned children's resale store, and donate to our PTA thrift store. Shopping for him is a pain but I work hard to find comfy clothes that fit his parameters. I don't think he's ever heard of the popular "boy brands" like Under Armour.

My nine-year-old DS has sensory issues and is picky about the fit, and feel, of everything he wears.
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#18 of 26 Old 11-02-2013, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Even if it is decided that clothes aren't a way to express yourself that doesn't mean it is right to impose clothing decisions on our children. I am not a big fan of imposing unnecessary limits on kids and there isn't much about clothing that needs to be limited. There are so fee things kids can get free range on the way they can with clothing options. I think this is a perfect area for using Alfie Kohn's framework for deciding if limits are necessary.

 

 

Part of me is looking to the future. Given our city and DC's personality I do think I will see a day where she becomes interested in clothing. I suppose I'm trying to prep for that. A few times in DC's development I've had to really put my values and biases aside so that she could find her way. My guess is that clothing will be that. My guess is that for us it will have to do with putting aside bias about everything that goes into choosing clothing - INCLUDING bias about wanting to be "trendy", conformity, image, body issues, vanity, perhaps even wanting to show status...  

 

How do you plan to deal with that?  

 

I feel like I sometimes hear this idea that kids are into clothes but, "They're not into being trendy," or whatever. But, what if it was?  To me the issue of control is only really tested when our kids want to do something  that we are really uncomfortable with. 


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#19 of 26 Old 11-02-2013, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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They just like to do what they wanna do and I do think that having to wear clothing that they are not mentally comfortable in (some of those school uniforms are downright dowdy) would really cause them undue stress and anxiety. That's just never a battle I would choose to engage in given the alternative of free expression.

Yes, I think I really do get that -- this idea of being "mentally comfortable".  In that way, I relate very much to clothing. I think that's a great way to put it.  

 

When we were talking about the uniform thing on the other thread, I had a hard time relating to kids or families prioritizing clothing options (or lack there of) when picking a school. For one, in our city the choices of non-uniform schools are slim. So there's that. Also, is my DC who just doesn't care that much about clothing (beyond comfort). So, we haven't yet been tested in terms of having to decide how much we are willing to impose our values on our DC in terms of clothing. BUT, then I thought about what would happen if we had a different type kid -- one who, for whatever reason, did care about what she wanted to wear. How much would we let that be a deciding factor in choosing a school? Would we allow DC's values about expressing herself through clothing be weighted higher (or as high) as a school's options for expression through visual art, writing, projects, music, dance...?  I don't know. That's obviously a personal family decision. 

 

But, to tell you the truth - I don't know what I would do if my DC was into clothes to the point that it was a factor in her education. I think that would make me nervous. But, that's because of where we live and her options for schooling. Perhaps my DC has internalized some limitations on her options and that's coming out in her values about clothing...I don't know. For us, it's just that this hasn't been tested, yk? 

 

Has this been tested for anyone on this thread?  Anyone reading along?  


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#20 of 26 Old 11-02-2013, 06:39 PM
 
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I can't quote easily and am not sure if this answers your question. If not can you be more specific?

As long as the clothes are in our price range I truly don't care. She has some trendy clothes, some see through that she wears an undershirt with, some Goth, and some jeans and t-shirts. She does her hair in chalk and wears as much makeup as she can slip by her teacher. I just don't see clothes as an issue, there are ways to make any item acceptable enough to pass the school requirements and it has only taken one day of having to wear the ugly baggy shirt for my DD to be willing to choose outfits that are acceptable ay school.

I have done my part by raising her to value herself as a person and we talk about issues of conformity when they come up and she decides what to do. I feel like we all go through a phase of not liking our bodies, exploring our commitment to the values our parents raised us with, trying to conform, being vain, etc... It is part of growing up and I hope to keep the lines of communication open and let her go through it. I don't think stopping purchases and imposing values stops any of the things you mentioned, it just stops the dialogue and creates resentment.
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Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post



As long as the clothes are in our price range I truly don't care. She has some trendy clothes, some see through that she wears an undershirt with, some Goth, and some jeans and t-shirts. She does her hair in chalk and wears as much makeup as she can slip by her teacher. I just don't see clothes as an issue, there are ways to make any item acceptable enough to pass the school requirements and it has only taken one day of having to wear the ugly baggy shirt for my DD to be willing to choose outfits that are acceptable ay school.

I have done my part by raising her to value herself as a person and we talk about issues of conformity when they come up and she decides what to do. I feel like we all go through a phase of not liking our bodies, exploring our commitment to the values our parents raised us with, trying to conform, being vain, etc... It is part of growing up and I hope to keep the lines of communication open and let her go through it. I don't think stopping purchases and imposing values stops any of the things you mentioned, it just stops the dialogue and creates resentment.

Yea, that does help!  I'm not sure if you are one of the people who gave me this impression that it's ok to be into clothes "so long as it isn't about this or that thing the parent finds uncomfortable". But, that's part of what I was getting at -- that this seems like a value judgment from the parent.  

 

My goal is to be sort of like you -- trying to take my own personal biases out of the equation. I have done this a bit already (but because fashion isn't a big part of our lives yet, I haven't been pushed too far out of my comfort zone).  I know that there are certain counter-culture "looks" that I love and some that I don't like at all.  But that's because of my own experience and I know that DC will have her own. 

 

Makeup is a good point too. Speaking of things that would make me uncomfortable... There is a trend in my city for some white teen girls (DC is white/so am I) to wear bronzer. So much bronzer that I call it bronzer dysmorphia. It usually goes along with bleach blond hair. I don't care for this look and it's something like this that makes me wonder what I will do if DC embraces that style. 

 

Another layer here (which has come up in the past for me with people who take a really hard line on control like TCS or CL people) is that I think "talking about values" is a form of influence.I can't imagine EVER forcing my DC to wear something. I can't even imagine how that would work. So, for me, I'd ALWAYS be simply talking about values (aside from ditching the sparkly princess PJs when they're toddlers).  But, I guess I'm just not sure what my values about clothes are. I mean, I'm kind of a "everything in moderation" type for most things. I guess that's as good as anything.   ;-)  

 

And, I'm not all stressed about any of this -- I just think it's kind of interesting and wouldn't mind having thought about it a bit before it comes up for us. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I can't quote easily and am not sure if this answers your question. If not can you be more specific?

 

It's hard to give as specific because aesthetic and values are so different but for me, for instance, something like wanting to use crap tons of bronzer (like I mentioned above) would be an example of something where I would be really pushed out of my comfort zone. But, if I were to  be really honest with myself, this is an aesthetic thing. 

 

Part of why I ask is because it sounds to me like both you and Beanmama have kids with a fashion sense that you both like (and what it sounds like I would like too).  If our kids are doing what we like, it's kind of hard to be the poster child for consensual living...CL gets hard when we're out of sync, is what I mean. 

 

So, that's where I am too. So far we have not had to control anything (DC willfully goes to a school with a uniform, for instance) and otherwise wears what she wants. Chooses not to shop with me. Off the top of my head I can not think of a time where I have asked her to change.  

 

But, I just do not feel like I have been tested. 

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#22 of 26 Old 11-02-2013, 08:46 PM
 
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I am actually not fond of a couple if my dd's clothes. She has skin tight biker shorts and leggings that I really despise and a couple t-shirts that are also very tight but her favorites still and technically not too small. It's just really hard to see her in them because she is growing into a more mature body and that is hard for me but she loved them in the summer and finds leggings comfortable even in the winter. When she wore both together I had to really do a lot of self talk. I thought about what my worry was, what her motivation was, and used Alfie Kohn's framework to decide how to respond because just going with it was not my first response.

I wish she'd just choose a thicker shirt instead of opting for a shirt that needs an undershirt but those are increasingly hard to find lately and it isn't harmful in anyway.

It took me three years to be okay with her even using hair chalk and even then I was a little horrified when she put pink streaks in on the first day of school and more than a little horrified when she used it on her whole head last week. This reaction wasn't about whether it was harmful or not though it was about my worry about how strangers might think about her and to some extent about me. Luckily we didn't have time for her to shower it out so she was able to wear it and I put a happy face on and came to that conclusion later without it affecting her.

Her Halloween costume think year was hard for me to accept, she was a female vampire and it had to come from the teen area because she is very tall. We did have to compromise on who would be worn with it because it was too mature for me to cope with otherwise. I was probably a little too imposing there but that happens sometimes too and we survive.

When she wanted to cut her hair so short even a half a ponytail would look odd in it I almost cried and I really wanted to say no. I was not at all happy about bright red lipstick but it hurts nobody, happens on rare Saturdays, and she just wanted to dress up because I had been wearing a little makeup lately. When I analyze it most of it is an issue with me and my desire to see her as little but her motivation is still innocent (comfort, imitation, experimenting with style) and focusing on that helps. I've also worked long and hard at leaving a long pause before answering a request so I can think about whether my no comes from a gut reaction or a place of actual valid concern. It is definitely not easy though.
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Ha, ha, ha!!  My DC JUST TONIGHT wore a pair of leggins with a waste length top out to dinner and I *almost* told her that I thought she should consider wearing a tunic style top with leggins...but I decided to hold off. *On my very own, thank you very much!.  :D  I'm not quite sure what I'll do about the issue of clothing norms and expectations changing into puberty. That's sort of tricky. My guess is that DC may well decide on her own (peer pressure, perhaps, or just observation). Otherwise, it would be a hard conversation for me to have...but rest assured it will include some sort of rant about how it should not be a child's problem that we have such a warped attitude towards sexuality, the body and etc. Though, I imagine the conversation about why I think crap loads of bonzer looks stupid may not be any easier. ;-)  

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#24 of 26 Old 11-03-2013, 07:59 AM
 
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Well, we've had a lot of conversations and my kids have read a lot and seen videos and been involved in discussion groups (mainly through Girls On The Run) about the unrealistic images of females in this society, so currently (at almost 10 and almost 13) they are not at all interested in looking "sexy". They like to wear make-up for their dance productions and Halloween, but don't wear it outside of that. I don't wear makeup at all and haven't for years.

 

They are also aware of the bad chemicals in most cosmetics, mainly through The Story Of Stuff and The Story of Cosmetics videos, which they love. Dd1 made me aware that the "Kiss My Face" hand lotion I had in the bathroom wasn't completely natural. So for things like make-up and nail polish we try to buy less bad alternatives. When my dd1 wanted to dye her hair, we used natural henna, and I'm okay with that. 

 

If the bronzer thing came up, I would probably talk about both of the things we've already talked about, the unrealistic female body images portrayed in the media and advertising (Dove soap has some great resources on this and this great video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U ) and also the bad chemicals in most cosmetics. If I could find a natural bronzer I might let her buy that with her own money, but I would tell her that wearing heavy make-up every day is bad for her skin (which I believe to be true, not just saying it because I don't want her to wear makeup). Also, if my girls really did want to wear makeup I would make sure that they didn't look clownish and would help them with it if they needed it. If their goal is to look more mature and sophisticated, caking it on with a spatula is really not the way to go.

 

I do tell my dds to wear a longer top with leggings if I think they need to. It depends on the girl, and the leggings and the shirt. Some leggings my dd1 has just really need the bum covered up and some are fine. Most of dd2's are fine because, although she's almost as tall at dd1, she's still got a little girl shape. It's hard to phrase it in a positive way. If she was wearing them to school I would ask if they met the dress code. If it was on the weekend I might just remark that I have seen girls wear longer tops and that looks nice, especially if the leggings are really tight. My girls are not into revealing clothing too much, although dd1 does have some lace camis that sometimes make me a little uncomfortable, especially if it's not hot weather. Sometimes she pairs them appropriately, though, so if she was wearing one that I thought was a little too much I might suggest she put it with that other top like she did before or something along those lines. It's a tricky area. I think with my girls right now, sometimes they want to go for a more mature/sophisticated look, but they don't want to go for sexy, and it's hard to help them navigate what is what. I was surprised the other day when I picked dd1 up from school and she looked very grown-up with two pashminas she had found in her backpack wrapped around her neck, sorta something like this. And it looked nice, just a little more sophisticated than I was expecting from my still-12-for-a-few-more-months girl. 


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#25 of 26 Old 11-03-2013, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This reminds me so much of the CL discussions from back in the day!  The way you describe your involvement in these choices sounds like a nice, healthy, respectful, educated way...to influence what your kids wear way to interact that has the effect of influencing what your kids wear. 


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#26 of 26 Old 11-03-2013, 09:49 AM
 
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Well, thanks. 

 

I'm sure they have picked up some of mine and DH's fashion sense, which is pretty much we wear whatever we like and works for us and don't really pay much attention to clothing trends, but they are interested in some certain styles available in the store. Dd2 likes almost any t-shirt with a puppy on it. They both like some sparkles sometimes.

 

I really try not to put too much of my own stuff on them, but I do let them know when things are too small/outgrown and try to keep in mind the look they're going for and what reaction they might get. I don't want them to wear something to school that would get them laughed at, but that's not really a huge concern. Dd1 did have a bit of a worn through place on the butt of her jeans at the corner of the pocket the other day when we were dashing out the door with no time to change into another pair of pants. I let her know so she could pull her shirt down or tie her sweater around her waist to cover it. She wasn't intentionally wearing holey butt jeans, so if I could prevent a potentially embarrassing situation for her by letting her know, then I'm all about that.


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