School Fashion Issues Start Early--And Don't Go Away
When I was in junior high school it seemed that everybody but me had cool Villager skirts and designer shirts. My family went to Sears to buy back-to-school clothes, and I tried to replicate “the look” but it looked like I was trying. I remember giving up (opting instead for jeans and T-shirts, a different kind of uniform) and secretly hoping that people would stop judging each other by their clothing.
My colleague Jenna Johnson’s story about middle school fashionistas is an engaging reminder that kids--girls more often than boys but boys too--care about clothes, want to fit in with other kids, and don’t really understand how much a new wardrobe costs.
The story focuses on middle school, noting that that is a time when girls’ bodies are developing and a focus on fashion becomes sharp. Elementary school kids, however, are not immune to this mindset--and neither are high school students. In fact, for many people, it never goes away.
There are real questions about what parents should do about this.
You can tell your kids that fashion doesn’t matter and they shouldn’t get stuck on the superficial, but that isn’t going to change their minds. It is going to make them think you have no idea what they are going through because fashion does matter.
If you are lucky enough to have the resources, you can deck out your kids in the latest designer stuff, presumably with the hope that it makes them the coolest kids in class. Beware, though, it could make them objects of ridicule.
A better bet is to help your kids express themselves with their clothes in a way that fits your budget and your own sensibilities--and your school's rules. It is not a crime for kids to want to fit in with their peers. At the same time, it is important that they hear from you that clothes don’t make the person. Over time, the message should sink in--as long as you really believe it and model that notion in your own life. Kids can tell whether you mean it or not.
How do your handle your children’s clothing desires? What advice do you have for other parents?
| September 9, 2009; 9:13 AM ET
Categories: Parents | Tags: Back-to-school clothes, Parentings
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