Belfast Telegraph

Why do parents dress little girls in mini skirts?

By Frances Burscough

Call me old-fashioned, but I think that a child should look like a child, act like a child, live like a child and be like a child for as long as possible. That was certainly how I approached things when my kids were small.

It’s not just human nature, is it? It’s nature in general, to allow your young to be young for as long as they need to, in order to live and learn, to develop fully and to prepare to take on the world.

It’s never easy bringing up children and it certainly hasn’t been for me, largely on my own for so many years with two boys. But as much as I would have loved to have a girl to redress the balance, I often think I got off lightly with my brood. Especially when I look in the papers and see the role models that little girls aspire to be like now.

One in particular stands out for all the wrong reasons — five year-old Suri, the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who is fast-becoming the most famous child in the world. Ok, she may be an extreme example, with her multi-million dollar wardrobe, her penchant for designer high-heeled sling-backs, custom-made miniature Hermes handbags and garish red lipstick, but the papers are full of her on a daily basis and so it’s safe to bet that her influence is growing far faster than she is.

Her parents believe that children should be treated like adults from the youngest age — apparently this is a core part of the Scientology ethos — so she attends meetings with consultants to discuss such important matters as birthday parties, joins her parents for dinner at posh restaurants until the wee hours and is encouraged to choose her own clothes and cosmetics from boutiques and department stores with an apparently limitless budget. I wouldn’t be surprised if she even had her own credit card.

Meanwhile, closer to home and a lot closer to actual reality, our stores are marketing fashion to little girls which look like they’ve been dreamt up by someone at Ann Summers or Victoria’s Secrets. Thanks to the likes of Suri, high heels for kiddies are the next big thing. Worn with over-the knee sheer socks that look like stockings, a micro-mini skirt and a vest-top that bares a flash of midriff — a girl could easily be mistaken for a miniature sex symbol

But the most disturbing trend in my opinion has got to be the slogan T-shirt where adult catchphrases are applied to kids’ clothing as though it’s a cute and funny irony, rather than the very extent of wrong.

‘Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels’ emblazoned on a skinny T-shirt, and available in toddler to teen sizes, was being touted on Zazzle.com website recently. ‘Don’t Feed the Model’ appeared on another, like an open invitation to become anorexic.

At Primark, a collection last season included a T shirt with ‘Future Footballer’s Wife’ and, the piece de resistance, one with ‘Always in your Dreams’ on the front, which was being sold alongside padded bikinis for seven year-olds. That’s not cute, that’s not sweet and it certainly isn’t funny. It’s just vile. Always in your dreams? What in Heaven’s name is that supposed to mean? It doesn’t really bear thinking about, does it ... ?

But this is one of the big modern dilemmas of bringing up kids in the 21st century. Do you give in to consumer and peer pressure by allowing them to grow up too quickly, or do you impose your own sense of taste and style for as long as possible, in the hope that you can preserve their innocence without making them resent you for it?

Whatever your answer may be, no one is ever going to convince me that dressing little girls like floozies is anything other than horribly wrong.

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