Target
Great news for parents who want their little girls to grow up even faster: Stores like Target and Old Navy are now selling bras for 5-year-olds! Personally, I’ve been waiting for this innovation since my daughter was an infant and hanging out indecently in only her diaper and onesie. I mean, I’ve already seen high heels for toddlers at Payless, and string bikinis for babies, and G-strings for tweens at Victoria’s Secret. Thank goodness these “bralettes” (they look like stretchy half-camisoles) are now widely available. Can you imagine making mud-pies or finger-painting in just a T-shirt and shorts? How uncivilized. How… childlike!

All right, so obviously the phrase “bras for 5-year-olds” fills me with ire. The whole business of trying to turn girls into tiny adults is repellent to me, and yes I know our contemporary concept of childhood is a post-Dickensian construct—I went to graduate school, I get it, but STILL. The one thing I am certain of when it comes to parenting is that I want my kids to get to be kids. Playful, whimsical, creative, messy, carefree kids. Not mini grown-ups.

That said… my almost-5-year-old daughter completely disagrees. She’s the one who brought those toddler high heels to my attention, when she was begging me to buy them. She spends about 75 percent of her time pretending to be a mommy who drinks coffee, works on a laptop, chews gum, always wears long, dangly earrings even when she is sleeping, and demands to be called Karen (a very fancy and grownup name, to her ear). If she knew there were bras for kids she would certainly demand one. She loves grown-up things. Because grown-ups are in charge, and Karen, I mean, Harper, wants above all to be in charge.

She is about to turn 5, and to be perfectly honest, she would actually love high heels and a tiny bra for her birthday, and I think the same is true for a lot of little girls. But as a thoughtful mom, I think my job is to steer her away from the high heels and bras as symbols of in charge-ness, and channel this desire for grownup things in more productive ways. To wit, for her birthday, I’m giving her some chapter books, her first stick of gum, and a knife. (Oh, relax, it’s for kids.) I want to encourage her independence, and her desire to do things all by herself, but I also want her to know that costuming isn’t a woman’s (only) locus of power.

[Via The New York Times]

Amy Shearn is the mother of two small children and the proprietress of Household Words, a blog about babies, books, and Brooklyn, NY. She also writes for oprah.com and mommypoppins.com. Amy is the author of the novel How Far Is the Ocean From Here (Shaye Areheart/Crown 2008) and a new novel about, what else, a Brooklyn mother, called The Mermaid of Brooklyn.

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