One of the trends that’s really caught my eye lately is children (usually little girls) who are wildly out of sync with their families. You know the ones. Mom’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Dad is wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Three brothers… jeans… t-shirts. Five year old girl? Tea length chiffon cocktail dress with tulle overlay, a clutch of pearls, generally in pink, and patent leather shoes.
Now, I suppose it’s possible that some of these families are just getting a little grocery shopping in, before dropping their five year old off at an evening soiree, and heading for a family picnic in the park… uhm… well… some of them could be.
In my own hazy and fading memory of childhood… dresses like that are actually, literally what hell looks like. If you are bad… if you sass your teacher and throw rocks at the neighbor’s car… you will wear dresses like that while you burn in hell for eternity. They’re uncomfortable. And the tights? Uch. I still itch just looking at them.
Let’s see… An outfit that actually matches. Zipper up the back. Tights. Hideous little buckle shoes… do I believe this child dressed herself? Of course! Every bit as much as I believe unicorns fart rainbows and leprechauns.
Does it make sense that I believe in creative expression (the kid’s, not the mom using the kid as a prop) but I also believe in objectively appropriate clothing?
If it’s 94 degrees and sunny, appropriate clothing means that you are not wearing an arctic snow suit. (or a velvet dress with full, knit tights, btw.) And that Nixon mask? Probably not appropriate for a quick stop at the bank.
There’s safety appropriate–you will wear a helmet while riding a horse or a motorcycle. And social appropriate. You will not wear a party hat to your Great Aunt Thelma’s funeral. (And no, it doesn’t matter if that happens to be the creative expression that occurs to you in the moment.) And–**ahem**–financial circumstance appropriate. If you’re the Queen of the Nile and a bevy of attendants waiting on you, well, fine. Let those clothes get as complicated and time consuming as you want. Otherwise, you’d better be able to dress yourself. (Exceptions being your wedding, stage performances, and living in a care home.)
And–in a horrifying turn of events–I have to mention respect for other peoples’ property appropriate. It is never appropriate to leave a six-inch gash in someone else’s upholstery because you felt the need to wear rhinestones on your ass. You do not get to wear five foot spreading fairy wings into the china shop, either.
Right now–and this terrifies me–the prevailing attitude toward girls seems to be: Have all the creative expression you want, as long as you want to be a princess.