I remember back-to-school shopping as an 8-year-old. When I hit the mall with my mom, I was looking for the finest Bart Simpson T-shirt money could buy. Maybe some new sweatpants, too, if there was any money left over, or a hat with piano keys across the front.
From the age of 0 to 12, I dressed for comfort. After all, I spent my recesses playing tag football, and after school I jumped on my Huffy. A skirt was never part of the equation. Neither was anything revealing, lacy, glittery, or sparkly. Or even pink for that matter.
But now, as a mom to three young girls, I find myself navigating the shops during back-to-school season like a solider in a minefield. Spaghetti straps for teeny shoulders. Booty shorts for itty bitty bottoms. Slogan tees that bare the tiniest of tummies. Even the jeans are tight, fashioned with pretend pockets (so as to not add bulk to a 4-year-old’s hips?!) and bedazzled with rhinestones down the thighs.
Is this Gymboree or Hooters? If I wanted to let my 2-year-old bare it all, I’d have her saunter into preschool in nothing but her size 5 diaper. Now that’s bootylicious.
Interestingly, this clothing… “shrinkage,” let’s call it, has only befallen the girl garments. Boys’ clothing, if anything, has gotten baggier over the years (save for the hipster boy skinny jeans). The result is just what our society tells us we should be: teensy, weensy girls and hulky, strong boys.
A few years back, I wanted to buy a swimsuit with more sun coverage for my daughter, 18 months at the time. (“Mind you, ladies, this was before swim tights existed,” I say as I carefully settle down into my rocker.) And all I could find were minuscule swim skirts, the ruffle hitting higher than the swim undies themselves.
So I dressed her in second-hand boy swim trunks, emblazoned with sharks and down to her knees. She sat happily in the sand, her pasty white thighs shaded beneath the ballooning trunks, and I sat happily beside her, not caring in the least that she wasn’t the most fly 1-year-old on the beach.
Maybe you think I’m being prudish. But I think of it as practical. I’d like to keep my girls’ goods covered as long as possible — covered from the sun, covered from biting insects, covered from leering weirdos.
I got them covered.
And fortunately, some clothing companies now have girls covered, too. Here are a few worth browsing this back-to-school season:
Girls Will Be “designs clothes that empower girls to be themselves.” Check out their “in the middle fit” (roomy, but not boxy) and clothes with… drum roll, please… pockets. Yes, real pockets! Because girls like to have belongings, too!
Hanna is great for comfy play dresses (because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good dress!) and for full coverage underwear. Don’t even get me started on why 5-year-olds should not be wearing high-cut bikini panties.
Bold, solid colors are Primary’s specialty. Fabrics are soft and cozy, with nary a slogan in sight.
There are others, too, so now it’s almost as easy to find a navy science tee for a girl as it is to find one that says “Daddy’s Little Princess.” Almost. But not quite. So perhaps you’ll join me in bringing the unsexy back this year.
Let’s keep those bitty booties covered.