Tuesday, May 3, 2011

An age-old or modern problem?

"Well, you dress like a little girl, for one thing."

"I am a little girl, so why shouldn't I?"

-Louisa May Alcott, An Old-Fashioned Girl, page 10

I read this book for the first time recently, and quite enjoyed getting to know the main character, "old-fashioned" Polly. I've noticed some social commentary lately on how young girls dress, and here in Russia their wardrobe choice is an issue as well.

It's not so much that Russian girls dress more or less scantily than in other countries, but there is a lot of premature sophistication, in my opinion. I'm almost 30, and there are eight-yr-olds more sophisticated than I am. The heels, the pea-coats, the perfectly coiffed hair...Is it a problem or not to dress older than one's age? That's debatable.

What I liked about the girl in this book was that she herself was conscious of how she differed from her vain peers, yet she stood firm. It is one thing for parents to set rules about modesty, but do young girls understand the reasons, or are they simply being obedient? They hear "you're too young" all the time, but how often do they say "I'm too young to wear that" or "that movie is inappropriate for me to watch"? They must be taught discernment.


  1. Isabel asks me if a movie or tv show is appropriate all the time. She knows that some things are just not appropriate for her yet (she's 5). She also loves to pick out her clothes. She comes up with some interesting choices and I get veto power if something isn't appropriate - usually either not appropriate for the season or she's trying to wear something that no longer fits and is too short. Appropriate is a frequently used word around here. :)

  2. Anastasia knows what it is like to be a "Russian girl" (heels, short skirts, leopard skin fabrics....) and that's what she aims for. [constant battle] My older daughter was happy enough to listen to my advice until she moved out, but Anastasia seems to have gotten her fashion sense from her bio-mom.

  3. So cute, Shelly. :) I love Isabel's outfits.

    Annie, I'm sure it's doubly hard since the "style" is tied to nostalgia about a place she has left behind. I do think there are some lovely Russian styles that can modest as well as attractive. For example, scarves can be tied in interesting ways:

    I suppose girls pick up on "appropriateness" early on. I wonder if it's more of a "nature" or "nurture" phenomenon. Can there be any innocence in inappropriate attire, or is it always a purposeful striving to rebel? It seems like just having rules works up until a certain age, but there would need to be heart-led motivation later on to continue on the right path.

  4. Oh, my kids all know that word "appropriate" quite well! We use it a lot around here. For dress, I do think girls can dress immodestly all in innocence for a looooong time. Unless they're taught, the girls just have NO IDEA what boys/men think when they see them dress that way! It's just culture, pushing them to be like everyone else.

    The book sounds delightful! I can't remember if I read that one or not... it's sort of ringing a bell... I might have to check it out!

  5. It's definitely worth reading. You could probably download it for free, or look for it at the library. :)


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