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She's four, not 40

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Dressing my daughter appropriately

After having two boys, I admit I looked forward to dressing a daughter. For the first two-and-a-half years or so, buying clothing for my daughter met all my expectations. But now I find it easier and often more enjoyable to dress my boys again. What happened?

It started with bathing suits. I refused to buy my daughter a bikini bathing suit with a top made out of two triangles. She does not have the breast tissue to hold up such a top appropriately (at all!), and won't for quite a number of years, God willing. The problem was finding a bathing suit that was appropriate for her: something like a tankini (easier when she needed the restroom) in a simple print or color with appropriate bottom coverage and no inappropriate top detailing. Plain and simple is what I wanted, and I was having very little luck.Then I started looking around at the clothing choices for the next major size grouping for Sunshine, sizes 4 to 6x, and the next size groupings beyond that. I was absolutely horrified at some of what I saw. So many items were scaled-down versions of clothing for young women, down to detailing in the chest area and cropping of top length and the (low) rise of the bottoms. Some if it — much of it — was stuff I wouldn't wear scaled up! Whatever happened to little girls being little girls? Why do we have to start to sexualize girls attire so early?

Is it modesty I am talking about?

Now, I know there is a whole "modesty" movement our there, and I am not quite all the way there (yet?), but I do think girls clothing has just gone too, too far. Modesty is a part of it, but it's not the whole issue. The clothing I see seem to be either a miniature version of a style that would be inappropriate on most teenagers or so overdone in some other way that the clothes wear the child instead of the child wearing the clothes.I'm looking for simple, clean lines, appropriate coverage and made for kids to actually play in with fabrics that will stand up to more than a couple washings, and colors and prints that are vibrant and fun without being cloying and garish. You'd think I was asking for the moon on a silver platter! When I do find such items? Learning I have to pay through the nose for simple, I get even more annoyed. Why does it have to be so hard, in every way, to give our children childhoods?

I'm not the only one

I know that I am not the only mom who feels this way. I talk to other parents and we all lament what is out there. We share news of the stores to avoid in the mall, and where we've found decent stuff. And we have no idea how to communicate to the big manufacturers what we are looking for; they don't seem to want to listen anyway.When my daughter needs clothes, I dread the search for what is comfortable, appropriate and affordable. It takes much more thought and effort than my sons' clothes. I'm not going to give up, though. I'm going to find the right clothes for my daughter, and not clothes that will turn her into something she isn't, not encourage her to grow up too fast. Wish me luck.

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