I heard in the news today that Urban Outfitters stopped selling a cropped tee that had been causing a strong reaction. At issue? The tee was covered with the words ‘Depression’ – sending the message to young women that mental illness makes a fashion statement. At least 5,000 people signed a petition challenging the company to get rid of the shirt. This is the second time that Urban Outfitters has come under fire for a controversial t-shirt. Their response was quick: the company apologized to those who were offended and said it would no longer sell the shirts online.
I’m glad to see Urban Outfitters’ quick response but I am concerned that women, especially young women and girls, are being exposed to negative messages in the first place. I mean, really – do these companies not think through the significance of the messages these tees are sending? Words are not nothing. Words matter. Even on a t-shirt. And I’m not buying that!
My boys are a little older, so it’s been a while since they watched a Disney or Nickelodeon program. The last show I remember us watching together was Drake and Josh. That’s why Nick Schager’s article in LA Weekly, “Disney TV is Poisoning your Daughters,” startled me and truly opened my eyes. Schager writes, “Sitcoms may be predicated on a constant stream of one-liners, but Disney and Teen Nick take the formula to the next level, offering nothing but witless witticisms delivered with maximum, grinning-jackass hamminess …” Furthermore, the role that fashion plays is both confusing to girls and concerning to parents, with the young actors wearing “designer threads … that unsuccessfully straddles the line between tasteful and trampy,” says Schager. Continue reading →
Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of The Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School
My two sons go to public schools; one is in 8th grade, the other is a senior in high school. They don’t wear school uniforms and I have been curious about what life would be like for them if they did. Especially for my younger son who is in his early teens and at an impressionable and vulnerable age. I spoke with Dr. Karen Rezach, Director of the Middle School and The Ethics Institute at Kent Place School, an all-girls school from Kindergarten through the 12th Grade. We talked about the role of uniforms and why they are so important for the self-image of the students of Kent Place School. Dr. Rezach also helped me to see why this is not just about clothing and the choices our children make. It goes much deeper. She is a formidable woman and I must confess that I was a bit nervous before our conversation but the minute we started talking, I knew that I had come to the right person.
Here is my conversation with Dr. Rezach:
MKG: Kent Place School has adopted a “uniforms with choice,” platform from Kindergarten through the 8th grade. How does that differ from a basic uniform?
Pitbull and company performing on Good Morning America, May 31, 2013 Photo credit: ABC/Fred Lee
I have it on good authority that booty shorts are being worn in the public schools. Someone close to me (in middle school) who must remain anonymous for this feature, spent time talking about warm weather and booty shorts. “What,” may I ask (knowing full-well the answer) “are booty shorts?” His answer: “really short shorts that the girls wear to school.” Hmmm … “How did you come up with the name booty shorts?” His response: “Everyone calls them that.”
… so I googled booty shorts and found several links highlighting stripper shorts and dancer shorts. Nowhere did I find a link about middle-school age girls. And now I am back to one of the key questions I ponder when speaking of fashion … what is age appropriate dressing? And I don’t ask the question lightly nor do I confine it to midde-school age girls. At 52 it is something I need to question every day. How about the length of the shorts and skirts I wear? And other things like the fit of my t-shirts and sweaters. Continue reading →