Friday, October 26, 2007

Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton go to school!

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, there was an article on the front page of the Personal Journal about the relationship between fashion labels and bullying.

Not only do the kids need to have designer clothes to be safe from teasing from other girls-they have to be the right designers! I guess I wasn't surprised that designer clothes were important statements for kids-I caved in and bought my daughter a pair of UGG boots when the knock off pair didn't make the grade. What surprised me is the hierarchy of designer duds.

Of course, this in not being helped by the fact that more and more designers are -targeting young girls and girl-to-girl bullying is growing at an alarmingly fast rate. One-third of middle school girls surveyed answered "yes" when they were asked if they had been bullied due to the clothes that they wear.

Many of us use our clothing to reflect how we see ourselves, but as adults we are much less affected (hopefully) by the criticism of others. Many of us have been able to find our sense of style-eclectic, traditional, hip or whatever and live with it.

Our daughters don't have the luxury of the same point of view. What they wear matters-even in elementary school and becomes a point of differentiation and potential ridicule.

While the brain pool contemplates why fashion is so important to girls' identities parents are faced with the consequences of fashion bullying.

Beyond lobbying your school for a uniform (a parents dream and a fashionista girl's nightmare) there are some things you can do:
1. acknowledge that fashion bullying exists-especially for girls

2. Look at the images of fashion in the media-from Angelina's mom and daughter
matching Chanel bags to Lourdes' (Madonna's girl) Juicy Couture sweatsuit.
See what happens to the children who aren't dressed in designer duds-what
is their race, socio-economic background, etc. Do you and your daughter see any patterns?

3. If it is feasible, get a few designer pieces and help your child
accessorize the pieces she has. It is said that the women in France-arguably among the chicest in the world have a few fabulous outfits and know how to tie a scarf 100 ways.

4. help your child develop her own sense of fashion-what looks good on her
how does she feel when she wears certain clothes, capitalize on what
she thinks she looks good in.

5. Set an example by showing your daughter that you are comfortable with
your style-whatever it is. If you "need" designer clothes just because
they are designer clothes, then this might be a good time to look at that.

And always talk and listen to your kids-ask them how they feel and be supportive. A statement like "I am sorry that you feel that way" goes a lot farther than advice to ignore feelings. "Don't worry about that" or "You shouldn't feel that way" are some of the most self-esteem deflating statements in the world.

Remember, fashion bullying is alive and well-just like all other types of bullying and its consequences are just as real, too.

Have a great weekend.

With respect,

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