I have long ago accepted that clothing retailers consider children a very profitable market. No longer are unwilling children dragged to a department store, up to the poorly lit, dismal fourth floor and forced into practical school clothes and durable outerwear. Entire chain stores and boutiques are now available to cultivate pint-sized consumers. One need only flip through an advert or catalog, or walk past a store, to discover that utility is the furthest thing from the “designers” mind. Much of the apparel is trendy and costumey, not intended to last to the next season, let alone to the next sibling.
Yesterday, I walked through the GapKids section (remember when the Gap sold Lee and Levis?) due to a remodeling of the adult section (remember when “adult section” meant something else?) I was somewhat prepared for the barrage of pink. Only somewhat. If I was a child today, I would be cross-dressing. I have never enjoyed pink. My mother tacked a pink bow on my head once (for a family function) and even the black & white photos from that day, prove I am not a “pink” gal. Like most women in their early twenties, I made some mistakes. One was in the form of a Perry Ellis sample sale double breasted silk coat dress, in pink. In my pathetic defense, it was beautiful fabric, very well made and cost $10. None of that prevented a co-worker from nicknaming me “Pepto.” Pink has done me wrong.
But enough about me. What I was not prepared for in the mass-marketing mecca for children’s hard earned money, was the Vegas/Burlesque line of apparel available for sizes 3-14. One-third of the girl’s section was reserved for the merchandising of black sequined clothes. There were little black sequined tops, dresses, skirts, shrugs (shrugs?!) and of course shoes. I had to do a double-take AND pick up and investigate what appeared to be a pair of black sequined shorts in size 4. I’m not sure I even understand sequined shorts for grown women. To top it all off there were lovely fake fur white jackets, (a la Taxi Driver) for the little girl left out in the cold. I suppose it goes without mention that there were no equivalent tarty clothes for the little boys. Not a single Huggy Bear outfit in sight. We all know that little girls are becoming more sexualized and objectified every day. What I hadn’t entirely grasped, was that they are doing so at the hands of the adults who clothe them