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Kerri McLean

Our children aren't fashion accessories, they need to find a look for themselves

Kerry McLean


Jay Z, Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce Knowles

Jay Z, Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce Knowles

Jay Z, Blue Ivy Carter and Beyonce Knowles

I am not what I would consider a stylish person. As an adult, I've never been a slave to the latest fashion or felt the need to dress a particular way.

Sometimes I wonder if it's due to my being a teenager in the late Eighties and early Nineties and all the horrendous styles I attempted at that stage that have left me recoiling from trying to perfect a particular look.

Back then I desperately tried my best to emulate the looks I saw on Top of the Pops every Thursday night. I had my already very curly hair permed and cut into a layered bob. The idea was to look like one of the band members from Bananarama. Instead, my head resembled a round and fuzzy tennis ball.

Fast forward a few years and it was all flared cargo pants and baggy hooded tops. That's a hard look to pull off if you're a willowy supermodel. As someone who is five feet two inches tall and with hips nearly as wide even back then, I hadn't a hope.

I look back at the pictures of me from those years and I can't help but guffaw at the state of my friends and I in most of them. But the thing is that, at the time, we thought we looked great.

We had all the usual hang-ups that young girls have, that inability to look in the mirror without hating something you see in the reflection, but when we went out together in a pack, we felt like we were oh so cool. Our parents may not have understood or appreciated our look, but we knew it was just too trendy for them to understand.

Now that I have teenagers of my own, I appreciate how important it is to let them choose how they want to present themselves to the world. It's all part of growing up and becoming independent isn't it?

I know from speaking to my friends, that ours is not the only household where the youngsters have opted to use some of their time in lockdown to colour their hair in weird and wacky hues.

We've had streaks of blue and green turn up, pink make an appearance and even a bright gold colour rock up at the breakfast table. I'm not always sure if the colour I'm looking at is the colour they were hoping for, so I just smile and try to keep my eyebrows in a neutral position, so they don't think I disapprove.

Would I like them to keep their lovely, healthy hairdos untouched by bleach? Of course!

But it's not my head, so it's not really my choice and having been a teenager myself and remembering how it feels, I know that the chances are that any visible parental disapproval would make colouring their locks all the more desirable.

As much as I believe that teenagers need to be allowed to develop their own interest in fashion, I also feel that young children should be allowed to live life without a notion as to what's 'in' or 'out'.

Which is why I found it so sad this week to read that the six-year-old daughter of Beyonce and husband Jay-Z has a personal stylist and, in fact, has had one for two years. He selects designer pieces for her, matching handbags and shoes and jewellery for her look, choosing how best to style her hair to show her clothes in the best way.

I can't help but contrast that with my own four-year-old at home, who spends all of three minutes getting dressed in a T-shirt and leggings in the morning.

As the day progresses, she may add her own unique selections to the look; her sister's sunglasses, a square sandcastle bucket she uses as a handbag and her brother's old Batman outfit are her current favourites, but it's all just part of play.

There are times, of course, when she and the other, older two are tidied up and forced into sensible, parent-approved clothes but not often, and not at all since lockdown.

Unlike Beyonce and Jay-Z, I'm happy to let them find their own style, not become an accessory to mine.

Belfast Telegraph