It was my daughter’s 8th birthday, and my mother had just handed her a gift: a box full of clothes from Lord & Taylor. Violet pulled out a purple three-quarter sleeve T-shirt studded with the words "Haute Chic Guess." This slutty triumvirate filled the entire front of the shirt. My daughter had the tag off that thing and was wearing it in an instant. So I couldn’t disappear it. And mom meant no harm. She knows Violet likes fashion, and that shirt apparently was her idea of fashion. Four months later, the top is still one of Violet’s favorite things to wear.
I’ve tried hiding the offending garment in the bottom of the drawer. I’ve tried saying it was “in the laundry.” Violet always locates it. I can’t really explain why I find the shirt inappropriate, because the message is subtle, almost subliminal. I know that "Haute Chic Guess," translated from the French, just means "High Chic Guess." But I look at it and I think "Hot Chick Guess." And maybe I’m overreacting.
The shirt is just a symbol of a larger problem. Kids are being exposed to sex way before they’re ready. I’ve heard Violet use the words “hot” and “sexy,” without really understanding them. She’s heard them in Katy Perry songs, and probably at school. I’ve explained that someone her age shouldn’t talk about clothes being "hot" or "sexy." Because, for the love of God, 8-year-olds shouldn’t worry about being sexy! Violet doesn’t get it, of course, because she’s lacking some crucial info. To my knowledge she doesn’t know about sex yet. And I can’t clarify the matter without having the whole sex talk, which I don’t think she’s ready for. (I’m sure not.)
So we’ll muddle on for a couple of more years, and then I’ll explain everything, or she’ll find out before if I don’t time it just right. And then I plan to confine Violet to her room until she turns 21. Kidding!
Do you and your daughter war over a particular item of clothing? Leave a comment telling us about it -- and why you object to it.
TODAY Moms contributor Christina Kelly is a freelance writer and the former editor of ELLEgirl and ym. She blogs at christinamkelly.blogspot.com.