kidult

I came across several articles this weekend about fashion related to children.
The word “kidult” caught my eye and I couldn’t help but write about it.
Not about its meaning.
That was simple.
It means kids’ clothes replicating those of adults.
But more about the impact valuing clothes at such an early age and putting effort at creating mini-mes will have on our children.
As the Sunday Times Style magazine went, “many parents want their children’s clothes to reflect their own grown-up tastes”, which brings about the rise of “kidult chic”.
You’re joking, right?

Still images from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film

“Where do you two shop?”
“From Juicy Kidulture, of course!”

Besides that dressing your kid the same way you do, or trying to match each others’ dresses and accessories, or, blazers and pants, takes so much time, isn’t that screaming personal issues with the parents themselves?
What exactly is the problem here?
The Style article went on that according to a survey done in the UK, nearly 95% of the interviewed mothers ‘spend more on their child’s wardrobe than their own’, and partially it is due to the pressure parents feel from ensuring that their kids look the coolest in school.
Aren’t there more economic ways of boasting about your perfect kid?
Like, disciplning them good manners teaching them how to read and write; teach them ethics?
Hasn’t enough literature been written on the subject of how super-parenthood doesn’t necessarily produce better kids, with even lesser positive consequences from dressing them perfectly?
Perhaps, someone should come to the fore and write a self-help book addressing mothers who feel pressured by other parents and fashion trends and release them from the financial and psychological burden of having to follow the kidult hysteria that’s going on in the parks and in the schools.

Deeper concerns

Special clothes for children appeared around the time childhood, as a social phenomenon, came about.
That was around the Enlightenment, when books also came about and closed the doors to adulthood.
Before that, kids weren’t considered as such.
And neither were they treated with any special preferences.
The poor children went to work in the mines, in the fields, and God knows where, while the rich ones learned manners and etiquette that had to level with their parents’.
The clothes, of course, were mini versions of adults’ clothes.

Hesselius drew these kids with their typical attire of the time.
The perfect mini ladies and mini gentlemen.
Bravo!

The kids in the painting above look slightly weird to me.
Dressed as adults, yet, they look strangely miniature.
They only need the knowledge of other ‘adult’ stuff and are ready to enter the world of adulthood in full gear.
Thanks to the Internet, today’s kids (and their kidult outfits) aren’t far from getting into the adult realm.

Sexualization 
It seems unproblematic to many parents today, those of beauty pageant contestants in the leadership, that it is ok for their kids – daughters, specifically – to depict seductive, little Lolitas.
Bratz and Barbie dolls scream sexualization, perversion even.
Adults may be aware of it, but kids aren’t.
Kids simply begin to want to be like Bratz and Barbies – perfectly thin, with the perfect hair, make-up, and wardrobes; the perfect accessories; the perfect schooling and the perfect job; the perfect house; the perfect spouse; the perfect kids with their perfect little mini adult outfits.
And what if that kid never gets any of this?
Or, perhaps just some of it, but not exactly “perfect”?
Will he or she be OK with that?

Google images

Kids may look more fashionable and “upmarket” with their Dolce & Gabbana couture, or whatever is kidult chic, but they don’t necessarily look children, innocent, or free.
Think Suri Cruise and her high-heeled, specially made Louboutins, lady handbags, and stylish coats.

The status of clothes
Are we trying to enslave our kids from such an early age, by asking them to bow to deities who change their opinions every season?
Thoreau, in Walden, says that “no man stood lower in my estimation for wearing clothes with patches on them; yet, I am sure that there is greater anxiety, commonly, to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience.”
Thoreau doesn’t really promote ruggedness, nor negligence towards ourselves, but rather ,sees this as our weakness which we seem to be unable to overcome.
He says that ,”it would be easier for them [us, people] to hobble to town with a broken leg than with a broken pantaloon”, because “if an accident happens to a gentleman’s legs, they can be mended; but if a similar accident happens to the legs of his pantaloons, there is no help for it; for he considers, not what is truly respectable, but what is respected.”
I wouldn’t go out with a dress full of patches, unless it is the intended design, because I know what society will make of that; because I know how that will affect my work; how that will affect people’s attitudes towards me.
I accept that it’s this world we live in and not in, say, Walden, or Walden II.
It is perverted and I honestly struggle with this reality, the nonconformist I would have wanted to remain.
But why should we bring our kids into this perversive, corrosive, reality so early?
Because Stefano and Domenico, and other designers like them, need to make more money than they already do off adults?

Playing domino games
One thing leads to another.
From children’s clothes that don’t really look any different from those of adults – except for the sizes – everything else changes, gradually, and not so gradually.
Kids’ games, kids’ attitudes, kids’ perceptions.
Games aren’t just games anymore.
There’s the professional-looking (expensive) gear to go with it.
There are the trophies to be won, the tournaments and spectacles to be attended (by parents who sweat over their own outfits before that).
The overt attitudes the very parents take on those children who have won and those children who have lost begin to affect children directly, unforgivingly, with long-term consequences.
Perfection becomes an obsession.
Innocence is lost, yes, just because we want our kids to look like miniature clones of ourselves.

I just dressed my daughter with hand-me-downs from her brother.
I put a ribbon on her hair, not because I wanted to mark her gender, but because her fringe is long and annoys her.
Yes, I knew I marked her gender, because she looked like a long-haired boy in her brother’s old clothes.
But I felt relieved of the burden to think that she may spoil her perfect outfit (if she were dressed in something fancy), and that she will feel free, like a kid, to run around and get as messy as she wants.

It’s not just the kids who need to experience the freedom of getting messy, but parents, too.

Kick your heels off and go jump in a puddle of water alongside your kids.
Freedom tastes good!

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