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Monday, December 04, 2006

Modesty Is Such a Lonely Word

Many of you may have noticed a few mentions of my learning to sew. It is something I have always wanted to know how to do, because I would like to have clothes that fit me correctly, as well as having an affinity for older styles and a desire to be able to make more of what we use. Well, recently, I have had even more reason to wish to learn.

It turns out that the powers that be believe that little girls should be dressed to look as though their clothing was bought at Harlots R Us. Even in the baby clothes that we received when Amira was born, there were some garments that were innapropriate. I was of two minds about it, as I thought there was no actual harm in a small girl wearing such things, but I wondered what would cause someone to think it was suitable for such a girl to be dressed in such a way. Also, I didn't like the idea of dressing her in a way that would be forbidden when she grew older. Why set her up for such disparate standards?

It is increasingly difficult to find clothes for her that are little girl clothes, and that don't, at the same time, cost a fortune. So, I am learning to make her clothes. There is also a trend to dress little girls up like little adults, even when that clothing isn't inappropriate, but making them look older than they are. This has always been true to a certain extent, but it seems to be starting younger and younger.

I have been frequently shocked at the kind of things the little girls in our boys' classes have worn to school, and how much the school has to stress and restate the dress code, for kindergarten and first grade children. Obviously, their parents are buying them these clothes and allowing them to wear them, as they cannot get them themselves. There is absolutely no reason for a five year old girl to come to school in high heeled, strappy sandals. How does she run and play at recess in them? I can understand having them as dress up items, but these girls are wearing them as regular school wear.

The boys are no better, with the vulgar logos, explicit phrases and images on their shirts and their pants hanging a good foot below where they should. Though, in their cases, it is usually older boys (as though that were much consolation). Fortunately, at the boys' school, they have cracked down on the dress code, and nothing with pictures or words on them are allowed at all. This has caused some consternation with the girls' parents, as so much of girls' clothing is embellished with butterflies and hearts and whatnot, but I can understand why they have simply forbidden it all. I'm rooting for a uniform, actually.

There is a blogger out there who has started a campaign called Moms for Modesty, which I am all for, though we have moms and dads for modesty here, as well as believing these standards are not simply for girls. There are even baby bibs with double entendre "jokes" on them, saying things like: Your crib or mine? Though some may laugh it off, I think it is part of the early sexualizing of children, and the degradation of their innocence. We wish to have no part in it.

Not only do we want our daughter to dress and behave modestly, but we want our sons to desire girls and women who do so. It is hard work teaching them the value of modesty in a world of graphic advertising, billboards, magazines in checkouts, and even the daily clothing they see on people in the street. Even children's film and cartoons seem designed to send a sexualized message. It is not only this that bothers us, but the bad attitude, crass language and rudeness that is becoming far more accepted in children and their examples.

This brings me to a request. I have been using a free photo hosting service for two years. It has been easy to use, and I understand that for them to remain free, they need to take advertising. I have no objection to that. However, they have recently (I think within the past month) begun to have very explicit and vulgar advertising, and I do not wish to expose myself or my family to it. Are there any free photo hosting services out there that are easy enough for a novice to use on a Mac? Please leave a comment if you know of one. Thank you.

P.S. I will put a plug in for Modestly Yours, which is a great blog of commentary on modesty and culture.


I recently tested out bubbleshare.com which has a nifty iPhoto plug-in and I don't recall their having any advertising. It's a pretty cool site, kind of a flickr knockoff, but you don't even have to have an account to use it.

Also, fwiw, I don't have a terrible problem finding reasonably modest clothes for my girls. They wear a lot of stuff from Target, Gap (stretchy trousers with high waists that can fold-down, kind of like yoga pants, but not folded down too low), play dresses from Lands End/Sears (long sleeved crewneck type dresses). Yes, the Baby Britney Spears clothing is highly prevalent but not unavoidable it seems to me. Hopefully it will stay that way because I am NOT sewing them their clothes. If I have to send them to school in bedsheet ponchos, so be it :)

Oh, and hi.
I agree entirely, and congrats on learning to sew.

Can I ask, what photo hosting service has started with that kind of advertising? Have you written to them regarding the problem? It might be worth it.
Great post, Ranee! I feel the same as you do about the lack of modesty in much of our clothing nowadays. The suggestive phrases, pictures, etc. and on YOUNG children! Sewing your children's clothing is a great alternative. I would love to do that. As I get money for fabric and patterns, I would love to start that, too. :)

I'm sorry to hear about Photobucket's latest advertising! I haven't been using them for about a month now (just haven't been posting much or using pictures) but I will be aware of the advertising as I start posting again and adding pictures to my blog. If I notice it, I will also write a letter. I don't mind the "thank you for writing, bye" letter I might get in return. Everyone should speak up when they do not care for the direction a company they are supporting is going. And thankfully we have alternatives out there for when we have to go elsewhere. Keep a post here about the alternatives you hear about and find! I'm interested as I'm sure others will be. :)
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