Friday, November 13, 2009

Sartorial Choices of the Elmo Set

Yesterday Big Boy went to a party, a "princess ball" in honor of the third birthday of one of his regular playmates.  The children - mostly 2 and 3 year old girls - were encouraged to dress in costume.  In order to be a "knight in shining armor," Big Boy donned an aluminum foil helmet and an old t-shirt with a coat of arms that Husband had drawn on it.  When we arrived at the party, we were treated to a collection of his friends decked out in full princess regalia.  (The little girl in the picture isn't one of them, just a random lass I found on Wikimedia Commons.)  They looked adorable, but, it occurred to me, they didn't look all that different from how they usually look. 

And then another thing occurred to me: Little girls dress like little girls; little boys dress like little men.

I've been privy to many discussions among friends and among parents of the students I taught about how fashion for girls is decidedly more provocative than it once was.  From ultra low-rise jeans to, my personal favorite, pants with slogans emblazoned across the butt, clothes for girls are far racier than they were in my day.  (When I look back at high school photos of myself, I don't necessarily admire my style choices, but I am fully covered, often in flannel and usually in something baggy.)  But, at least for the kids I know, clothing for little, little girls still features such comforting and whimsical stand-bys as ruffles, bows, and heart-shaped buttons - all items that are in short supply in their moms' closets. 

Meanwhile, clothes for little, little boys look like more and more like miniaturized versions of the clothes that hang in my husband's closet.  Tiny Baby has several pairs of cargo pants (which is great, because he needs a place to stash all of his stuff); Big Boy's Gap Kids shirts are styled just like those in the men's department.  (Granted, Husband's shirts boast far fewer dinosaurs and trucks.)  Just yesterday, Double X featured a story on this trend taken to distasteful proportions.  Dressing my small boys like little men makes me feel like they're growing up faster than I want them to - probably just how the moms of girls feel when the rainbows give way to belly shirts.

At the party yesterday, Big Boy grew weary of his knight costume quickly and spent the rest of the party in his regular clothes, jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt.  He played and danced with the princesses, my mini man among the little girls.

As the mom of boys, what am I missing about the challenges of keeping little girls little?

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