We went shopping for Halloween costumes today.

Zandra wanted to be an 80’s girl. I was happy I couldn’t even remember what an 80’s girl looked like and had to google it. Did we really wear that??

Anyhow, I thought it was a good choice, and she created a cute costume for herself. I was pretty pleased that as we passed many of the costumes, her comments were things like, “Who would wear that”? and “That’s unbelievable”.

She wasn’t talking about the scary costumes either. She was talking about the slutty, trampy, sexy costumes. Yes, many designed for adults, but many were in kid sizes.

Really? Sexy? For a kid?

It brought me back to a talk show I heard a few days ago (and then a similar one I heard last year too). The question debated was: Is it a Halloween costume or just an excuse to dress and act slutty? You can imagine the heated discussion on that: primarily from women defending the fact that it was just a costume, and had no reflection on their character or self esteem.

The debate can rage about the one day Halloween costume, but the real problem lies with the other 364 days.

I was reading a blog yesterday that referenced this excellent article entitled, “Parents don’t dress your girls like tramps“, by LZ Granderson, a CNN contributor. You can read it here. I loved this article.

He talks about the trend of “sexy clothing” for girls; and by girls, he means girls (not even teens). Push up bras,short shorts, thongs, midriff baring tops etc. Companies are making them, and we can all be outraged at them for wanting to turn a profit by pushing this merchandise on our girls, but the fact is, we are buying the merchandise.

He quotes, “I guess I’ve been out of the loop and didn’t realize there’s been an ongoing stampede of 10 year old girls driving to the mall with their tiny fists full of cash demanding sexier apparel….What’s that you say? Ten year old’s can’t drive? They don’t have money, either? Well, how else are they getting ahold of these push up bras and whore friendly panties?

Their parents?

Noooo, couldn’t be.

What adult who wants a daughter to grow up with a high self esteem would ever consider purchasing such items? What parent is looking at their sweet little girl thinking, ‘She would be perfect if she had a little more on top'”.

Although companies have responsibility, it’s the parents who are the ones paying the money for this trend!

And surprisingly, it is often the Mom’s doing the shopping with their girls.

At the end of the article, I loved one person’s comment that said: “Actually, it is the girls who want to buy the clothes like that”. Then someone else retorted, “And that is why they have parents: it is the parents’ job to say NO”.

Granderson ends with: “A line needs to be drawn, but not by Abercrombie. Not by Britney Spears. And not by these little girls who don’t know any better and desperately need their parents to be their parents and not 40-year old BFFs”.

Loved that. I say it all the time to my kids: You have lots of friends, but only one Mom/Smom. I’m going to make sure that I take that role pretty seriously. Nothing wrong with being your friend too at times, but I know which role takes priority.

So I’m glad Zandra took note about the Halloween costumes. It shows she has been listening to some of the things we’ve talked about.

I do believe that beauty comes from within, and we talk about that all the time. That is the most important – and really the only true beauty. You can see an “outwardly beautiful person”, but after getting to know them, if they are not beautiful inside, then you will change your mind about their outward beauty too.

But, I also am a woman who is not opposed to “outside beauty”. I do care about how I look, I do wear makeup, get my hair done sometimes, try to look nice and try to be stylish. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that either. I happen to think that sometimes our outward appearance is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves and can influence our attitude or moods. If we look great, we often feel great!

But we don’t need to always be done up to the nines, wearing a ton of make up, revealing clothing and spending hours on our looks. We can be beautiful “au natural” or with a little bit of care – and we shouldn’t judge each other for our own personal preferences. We can learn how to dress the most flattering way for our own body type, and we can certainly dress “age appropriately” (whether we are young or old). There is great fashion for all age groups, and great fashion that can also be tasteful, modest and beautiful.

So while I want my kids to understand beauty comes from within, I also want them to take care of themselves, and to have their outsides reflect the beauty they have within.

That’s why it is troublesome when little girls are being pushed at younger and younger ages to dress provocatively, or to look sexy. They see it in the media, they see it on their favorite TV shows, they see it in the classrooms; it is all around them. Granderson does point out that there is a link between early sexualization and three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self esteem, and depression.

As women, we talk about this all the time. We praise our kids to build their self esteem, we teach them good eating habits and buy organic and give them healthy snacks, we get them to talk about their feelings; we do all this to avoid poor self esteem, eating disorders and depression. And yet, we drive them to the mall to buy the shortest skirt possible, and encourage them to wear clothes showing cleavage and teach them how to dance and walk sexy. Granderson continues, “There is nothing inherently wrong with a parent wanting to appease their daughters by buying them the latest fashions. But is getting cool points today worth the harm of dressing little girls like prostitutes could cause tomorrow”?

I know the day will come when Zandra and I might disagree with the clothing or make up that she wants to wear. I hope that she will always know how beautiful she is – inside and out. I hope that she knows she can be stylish and fashionable, without succombing to trends that can hurt her self esteem in the long run. I hope she always knows that if she focuses on being the self confident, intelligent, kind, compassionate, graceful girl that she is, then her beauty will shine through and her outward appearance will reflect that inner beauty. And she doesn’t need anything else:)

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