Shopping for summer clothes for my son was pretty easy. For one thing, as a guy, he will wear anything relatively clean and everything matches blue and khaki and camo, the only real colors his clothes come in. For another, all the boys clothes are a variation on a standard acceptable theme, and haven’t really changed since I was in high school back when Bon Jovi was the New Kid on the Block – Bermuda shorts, basic t-shirts, polo shorts for dress up wear, and baggy bathing suits that go down to his knees. Nothing remarkable about any of it.
Shopping for summer clothes for my daughter, on the other hand, made me want to invest in whatever companies still make chastity belts. Or maybe cotton farms, because obviously there is a shortage of cotton and there is such high demand that they don’t have enough available to make an entire pair of shorts to sell. I am thankful that my daughter, when left to her own devices, will generally make modest choices. As a result, my arguments were not with her, but rather with the manufacturers of booty shorts made for ten year olds, or the buyers for the stores that chose to stock them exclusively.
I mean, come on. I know I’m in my mid-forties and had the good fortune to grow up in an era when oversized clothing was the norm. (We might have worn jeans so tight you had to pull up the zipper with a pair of pliers, but we topped them with chunky sweaters big enough to smuggle a full grown Labrador retriever inside.) My personal wardrobe choices have always been relatively conservative, but STILL. This is just ridiculous. Is it too much to ask that there be ONE PAIR OF SHORTS in the girls’ section of Major Retailers that is long enough to cover the entirety of a girl’s natural curves? Sandwiches at Subway™ are longer than these shorts. We went nuts trying to find a pair that were longer than your standard pair of underwear. After a few tries in different places, we ended up at Wal-Mart, where we did find some Jordache™ jeans shorts that went down to mid-thigh, and were high enough not to show anything usually only seen on plumbers and electricians. (Once again – let’s hear it for the 80s! Our fashions were funky, comfortable, and covered the entirety of our no-no zones, even if our hair wouldn’t all fit in the rectangle of our yearbook pictures.) Seriously: it appears that Wal-Mart is the only place I can find clothes with any class.
Not to jump too hard on the feminist Crazy Train, but exactly what are we telling little girls if this is more or less the only clothing option for them? I mean, turn the tables and that would highlight how ridiculous the whole thing is. If a guy were to wear leggings without the benefit of a shirt that went to his thighs, nearly everyone would freak out regarding the bumps and fleshy bits that would be outlined in 3-D. Any guy wearing a Speedo outside of competitive swimming would be ridiculed, or at the very least stared at in a “beware of psycho predator” way. Booty shorts for guys are so ridiculous a concept that there was an entire character based around that joke of a theory on Reno 911. So I don’t think it is a double standard in which we are more concerned with what girls wear than what boys wear. It is more like a double standard in which boys are encouraged to wear comfortable, practical clothing that leaves a good bit to the imagination, and girls are encouraged to wear clothes that reveal as much as is legally possible.
I took a completely non-scientific poll of men/guys I know and who happened to cross my path during the period of time when I was most hot under the collar about this. All of them over the age of 18 said that they actually preferred the way females looked when there was a little more coverage, as it was more mysterious and classy. The ones under the age of 18 said the same thing, but they wouldn’t look me in the eye and blushed a little when they said it, and maybe typed 5318008 on the calculator to look busy while they were talking. (Try it – and turn the calculator upside down.) Which goes to prove nothing, except maybe that the older men get the more mature they get, either in their taste in women’s clothing or in their ability to lie to me convincingly.
Despite the fact that I’m fairly certain my 10 year old’s fashion goals don’t include “sexy” or “picking up guys for a fling,” I’m also aware know how often her friends talk about going on a diet and ‘thigh gaps’ and the relative physical attractiveness of their peers and the latest boy band clones. I don’t pretend to have any solutions, or even a clear handle on the problem – I mean, if I’m going to be honest here, if I had long, muscular legs that looked like my daughter’s I would show every square inch of them every day for the express purpose of making you cry with jealousy. So maybe I’m just a hypocrite. Who knows?
I guess all I can say after an exhausting rant like this is, to whomever the clerk was at T.J. Maxx upon whom I unleashed just a little bit of a tantrum, I know you’re not in charge of these decisions and I apologize for forcing you to deal with my crazy raving when there wasn’t a thing you could do about it. But seriously – you weren’t wearing booty shorts when I asked where the non-streetwalker section was for little girls. So why do you expect my daughter to.