The Two Year Old Harlot

basd1.jpgZeca lives in hand-me-downs...her brother's old jeans and t-shirts, a smattering of pink clothes from a friend's daughter, a lone dress. She really enjoys picking out her clothes in the morning, so, we thought it would be fun to buy her some new clothes for her 2nd birthday. I imagined shopping over my lunch break, struggling to choose between all of the lovely, bright colored ensembles that would look so cute on my adorable daughter. Vibrant red, delightful orange and beautiful blue pants danced with plain cotton shirts of complementary colors in a gorgeous waltz of childhood androgyny. Then, I actually went shopping.

I first stopped at the Gap and wandered around for about 15 minutes before I realized, "Yep, this is really all that they have". The "boys" section of the store was filled with dark and bold colors that would have attracted my interest if they weren't covered in sports logos and camouflage. The "girls" section was filled with pink and white, dresses and frills. I finally found some plain cotton t-shirts and blouses but they were fitted, darts and gathers abounding. My daughter is a strappin' little gal with broad shoulders and an amazing belly. If we put her it tight shirts like those, we might as well slap a Jimmy Deal label on her. She would look ridiculous and would be completely uncomfortable. Two year olds aren't supposed to be rail thin but to look at the clothing options at the Gap, one might think otherwise.

I then dragged myself over to Target. My expectations were significantly lower after my experience at the Gap which was good because, otherwise, I would have been completely unprepared for the tacky tight t-shirts, short shorts and even shorter skirts. "I get my good looks from my mommy", "Patience Tester", "Spoiled" and "Princess" - these are the sayings plastered all over those tight-fitting tees. They might as well say, "My only value is in the way I look and I am going to use that to my advantage every chance I get. I am working you at this very moment. Do you like the way I look? Do you? I get my self-esteem from that, you know?" The messages on the shirts are bad enough but the short shorts and tiny skirts really drive the message home. I know for certain that when buying clothes for my son at this age, I never saw a pair of pants that implied, "Check out my ass! I am hot!" This spectacle passing as girls' clothing starts in sizes as small as 12 months. We are talking about dressing babies like harlots. Next thing you know, baby girls will come out of the womb and immediately receive a thong diaper and be swaddled in sequined blankets that say, "JUICY".

I did not buy anything during my shopping trip and I will now turn to Hanna Andersson and L.L. Bean, though I will certainly grumble about paying more for clothes than I think is reasonable. I will do this knowing that many parents cannot afford to step out of Target and Walmart, knowing that they will have to dress their daughters in clothes that reduce them to objects. I will do this because I refuse to pimp my daughter. It's an indictment on our society that such a refusal is a luxury.