While I was working out at the gym today, I noticed a nearby TV that showed a reporter excitedly doing surprise “live” interviews with parents and kids as the kids were being dropped off for their first day of school. The reporter appeared to focus on kindergarten and first grade children. I casually looked over to see/hear about the topic of questioning. The reporter crouched down to a whisper of a little girl named “Amanda” and asked her (with a great deal of excitement!) if she “felt good!” I thought, well, that’s sweet, and then I heard the rest of what the reporter was saying: child after child the reporter asked if the child “felt good about the clothing” she (or he) was wearing. The parents (some of whom seemed as caught off guard by the reporter’s questions as I was) nervously tried to play along with the reporter. These were very little kids…maybe five or six years old. I thought to myself, geez Louise…couldn’t the reporter have asked something a little more meaningful to that child about how they felt about their first day of school, about meeting new friends, about what they were most excited to do that day, or learn at school?
I remember well the pressures of buying some of the “cool” clothes my kids requested when they were in high school in the 2000’s (and perhaps in the late 1990’s when they were in middle school as well) but it looks like this type of pressure (for everyone – parents and kids) is now starting from a very early age. It made me upset and I felt I had to write about it.
To be clear, I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids wearing cool clothes and expressing themselves through clothing choices as they grow older. But does how you feel about your clothing have to be the emphasis on a child’s first day of school, and at such a young age? If I had a child this age, I would not want the memory of their first day of school to be in reflection of how people reacted to their clothing.
I am personally in favor of school uniforms for kids (like the ones in this picture) because it de-emphasizes outward appearance, and gives kids a chance to recognize each other from the inside. There’s also no stigma for kids who can’t afford to buy the latest designer jeans, or the ‘right’ shoes or accessories.
When sitting with your kids over dinner at the end of the day, talk with them about their school experience, their friends, topics that appeal to them, and help them identify their passions.
Kids don’t need designer labels to get them through school — they need support and interaction with people who love them to develop who they are. Around the dinner table over a shared meal you can help them discover their true, lovely selves.