A gaggle of tween-age girls, some looking mature beyond their years, others looking barely their age, were clustered in front of the ladies room mirror examining their very-similar looking selves. Long, straight shiny hair. Sparkling, post-braces, perfectly-aligned teeth.
Primping in the middle of a fancy party, they had lipsticks in hand, blush brushes peeking out of purses. They sighed, “I look too pale.” “Is this a good color for me?” “I wish I had your hair,” “My feet are killing me.”
Well, of course their feet were killing them. They were tottering on four- and five-inch heels they could barely walk in, the latest of the latest, the ones that look like low boots except that they have cutouts or straps, buckles or ties or all of the above. They make the kind of fashion statement that, much like the dowdier midi skirt and lacy anklets with dress pumps made in their day, must be seen many times before the eye sees it as normal.
So much for the feet. Let’s talk about the legs – the skinny legs, muscled legs, dancer’s legs, chunky legs, long legs, short legs, bowed legs. They were all on full display because the girls’ stretchy, clingy Press’n Seal dresses ended precisely where their legs began, which is exactly where their bottoms ended. One girl, whose mom probably refused to purchase such a bathing-suit bare party dress, was busy rolling and pinning up her mid-thigh length dress so she, too, would have “the look.”
Where were the mothers? True, there were adorable girls wearing cute, short dresses designed with a pre-adolescent in mind and, of course, every girl-woman was not in danger of a serious fall if someone bumped into her. But the overall effect of dresses so short that their wearers’ hands were always reaching back to give a downward tug at the hem, and shoes so tall that many girls looked as if they were playing dress-up with their moms’ shoes, was, “Who let them out like that?”
Well, there were the mothers that were right out there on the dance floor looking much the same, shoe-wise, as their daughters. There was the young mom who said, “We’re lucky. Where we live, these styles take much longer to penetrate, thank heavens.” There was the mother of a tween who flat out said, “No way,” when her daughter showed her a picture of her dream shoes but relented to the relentless pressure imposed on her by her daughter.
What effect, I wonder, did the fashionista moms think their daughters’ getups would have on the Y-chromosome kids at the party? Those with voices that dropped and growth spurts that made them man-sized probably in a testosterone frenzy. The little guys, often a foot shorter than their more developed female classmates, could well be intimidated by the older-sister-looking classmates in their midst!
I hear what I sound like. Prim, judgmental, unhip, un-cool, witchy. Not true. I have reliable references. And I know that most every generation jars its parents’ sartorial sensibilities. For sure, parents of the flower power, burn-the-bra error were horrified by the unkempt, wild-haired look of their sons and the, shall we say, unsupported look of what lay beneath their daughters’ gauzy blouses. No doubt Madonna imitators did not please their parents. But by and large, those fashion statements were not purchased by parents, not given the Mom-and-Dad seal of approval. And therein lies the difference.
Kids whose parents endorse, encourage and financially support the kind of clothing that should represent their kids rebellion periods might have to find something more daring, more out there, maybe more dangerous to declare their need for separateness. Parents who want their kids to see them as cool friends rather than as parents able to make and uphold even unpopular judgments in the direction of good taste are, in my opinion, the ones who are un-cool.