This weekend I took my soon-to-be-11 year old daughter shopping for her birthday. The only thing on her list this year was a trip to Abercrombie and it was in a way a shopping trip to pre-pubescence, teenagerhood and adulthood all in one -- an adventure out of Old Navy/Gap Kids/Children's Place-land and into a world we've not ventured through before.
Yes, this was on the wall:
I am really excited to watch my daughter grow up and learn about the world and test out being big. And it wasn't necessarily the baby-ish stud/vixen images all over (although, really, what's that about!?!?!) that unnerved me the most about Abercrombie. What made me itchy about the place were two things: the bleach blonde, orange tanned, unable to form sentences young teens who worked there (the future of our society!) and these:
(Notice a difference between these "kids" t-shirts? Remember, this is the company that once produced t-shirts for young girls that read: "With These Who Needs Brains". Obviously no lessons learned.)
For one, boys, it seems, get stared at and have a line of ladies no matter what, while girls need their hair and eyes to make them worthy, and passive.
I was processing these t-shirts with this additional piece of information I learned at TED: the number one gift to girls graduating high school last year was breast augmentation. Yep, great start for the future of our society.
So, here she is, on the brink of puberty, and our daughter sees so many different messages and images every, single day (be sure to click on that link and watch the video - awesome.) The world isn't going to change, but I'm hoping if she can process all of this junk as a critical thinker she'll be just fine. I keep thinking of the Abercrombie girlcott (started by a group of Pittsburgh girls - yeah!) from a while back and am reminded that there's hope, commitment, energy and lots of brain power out there dedicated to positive, empowering messages for girls -- and for boys, for that matter.