It was bittersweet when my cool.calm.collected, everybody’s BFF and secret keeper, straight A making, funky nail polish wearing, skinny jeans shopping, bracelet-stacking, Starbucks pumpkin spice steamer drinking, I wanna be a Fortune 500 company CFO & “triple threat” little girl turned 12! There was no turning back now; this meant that she was a ripe tween-ager.
Girls, not quite teens, from ages 10 and 12 are often referred to as tweens.
In some measure, it is exciting having a tween. I can relate to other parents when they say, “Having a tween is like having a crystal ball – suddenly you have an image of the grown-up your kid will become” (Tween Time, March 2011, Today’s Parent). At the same time, having a tween is nerve-wracking. My little girl just woke up one day and told me she no longer wants to wear hair barrettes and she no longer wants to play with Barbie dolls. This all caught me by surprise!
…and tween clothes shopping is a topic all by itself. The experience is fresh on my mind because I recently took my daughters new school clothes shopping. Just a few years ago, I used to pick out clothes for my 12 year old, bring them home, and she would be thrilled. Different story now. She likes to pick out her own outfits. OK, I got it. She is growing up, so I am adjusting accordingly. If it is not putting her at risk, I will give her a little leeway. But wait…
There seems to be no compromise between children’s clothes (which no longer fit the tastes and growing bodies of older girls) and juniors/ teen/misses stores (much of which are a bit too mature for a 12 year old). There will be plenty of time for the latter.
It seems that society is pushing girls to grow up way too fast. “Pop culture showcases young singers and actresses in highly suggestive clothing and poses. Their influence on kids is nearly impossible to ignore or escape” (Too Sexy Too Soon, August 2011, USA Today). The scary truth is evident in the media, in the clothing and cosmetics market, and in the words of marketers–, “tweens are the new teens”. Marketers created this notion, and are capitalizing off it. “As a group, the United States’ 21 million tweens account for about $48 billion in spending power annually, according to EPM Communications’ “Tween Spending & Influence” report.
These days, our happy medium is to sift through stores like Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, H&M, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, Pac Sun, Abercrombie, Hollister, and Target to find fashion forward, age-appropriate, quality clothes. Sometimes mixing-and-matching pieces from different stores offers a sound alternative.
Ultimately, it is a parent’s job to look out for their children and make decisions for their benefit and well-being… even when they don’t like them. “Study after study has proven that parents are a child’s greatest influence and their best role models. If you’re not parenting and monitoring your child’s appearance, actions and experiences then your kids will likely emulate what they’re seeing out there on TV, in music videos, in magazines, from their friends”(Too Sexy Too Soon, August 2011, USA Today). Although I no longer exclusively pick out clothes for my tween, I am still on the job as a parent. It is apparent when I look around middle schools and malls that not all parents are on the same page.
I could not have said it better:
“At its heart, it’s our job as parents to send a clear message that success and happiness come from hard work, healthy living, good behavior, kindness to others, etc… not from wearing crop tops, short shorts or taking risqué photographs laying on a bed or animal skin rug” (Too Sexy Too Soon, August 2011, USA Today).