“When I have kids,” my friend states, “they are going to be decked out.”
I know she means this when she says it because she herself is an expert at the art of “decked out.” Celine bags, Alaia shoes, Prabal dresses, the works. Girl looks like a million bucks. And she’s well within her right. At twenty-nine years old, employed and income-earning, you can do whatever you want. You’ve earned it. My concern, however, is when parents gussy up their kids in a similar fashion, trading in the Osh Kosh for Ralph Lauren seersucker suits and then some.
Call me old fashioned, but isn’t part of childhood having to look back and be slightly embarrassed? It gives society a common bond, the earliest sense of victim-hood. Oh, you wore scrunchies, too? Can you believe those floral-print athletic shorts and jean jackets? Ughhhh… SKETCHERS. To find your sartorial self as an adult, you have to lose yourself as a child, which means to be very, very unhip. Play in the dirt and pick your nose now; you can play dress-up later.
Call me old fashioned, but isn’t part of childhood having to look back and be slightly embarrassed?
Unfortunately, things get complicated when children come from inherently fashionable parents, people who wouldn’t dream of sending their kids out of the house in anything short of runway ready. This is because, in effect, children are extensions of yourself and, until they’re old enough to dress themselves, an example of your own taste. And when you’ve spent most of your adult life building yourself up as someone with style, you’re not going to ruin it with some dinosaur-print onesies and a pair of miniature Crocs. You know, in theory.
The most extreme example of this too chic, too soon concept is Alexander Wang’s niece (see above at the most recent NYFW). At three years old, the kid is already being ogled over by the entire fashion community, getting her picture taken by street style photographers as much as any other editor or super model. She’s the latest and youngest fixture at fashion week, dressed to the nines, sporting miniature Chanel and Balenciaga bags and wearing furs and leathers I didn’t even know existed until I was seven times her age.
I’ll hand it to her parents: the kid looks epic, and if it were an outfit simply draped over a mannequin, I would be all for it. The truth is, there’s a very impressionable person in there, and that person is getting more attention than is probably healthy.
In recent years, there has been a craze in China where people dye their pets to look like exotic animals: Labs painted like tigers, poodles like lions, various fluffy white things turned into pandas. The silly practice is both inane and tacky and, according to one veterinarian, psychologically harmful. “Mentally,” he says, “some dogs that aren’t used to being in the spotlight may react negatively to the sudden attention.”
When a child is acknowledged similarly – petted, fawned over –for the superficial at such a young age, you have to wonder what they’re going to be like when they’re twenty. That cute kid might look good on the outside now, but what are their insides going to look like later?
Image by Shini Park via Zuol/Tumblr