Yes, these eight words actually came out of my 5th grader’s mouth recently. My jaw hit the floor – just look at her, she could not get any prettier in my eyes. I could not believe that my beautiful little girl is already experiencing self esteem issues this young. But once I thought about it – this should not surprise any of us. Look at the advertising strategies of children’s clothing lines, movies, youtube vidoes. It’s all around them, all at the convenience of one little click or push on their smart device. Girls quickly determine that being skinny = being beautiful. The new media is the devil.
5th grade was the first year that my daughter remotely cared about brands. She is at a uniform school, so when the kids started expressing themselves in what they wore, they really chatted brands and AF Kids was top of the list. I was ok with it at first, the flower printed skirts last summer were super cute, albeit WAY too short, but with leggings, totally doable. We also tried to embrace the classic oxford shirts, but it seemed really difficult to find the right fit. My child is a healthy, normal, beautiful girl – she is not a bean pole, she is muscular like her mama. I found that every shirt, tee shirt, oxford, tank – everything was insanely slim. So I thought, well, this just isn’t a brand that works for her body type. Move on. Totally fine, there are a zillion cute brands out there, this just isn’t working. Until she asked for AFK clothes only for Christmas. Hmmm, how do I respond to this without scarring her for life?
I thought I found the solution – sweatpants! They sell sweatpants, that should work. NOT. I cannot accurately describe how narrow their sweatpants were in all ALL sizes, even moving up to the ladies. That’s when I started to do some digging. I decided to test my super slim and petite 8-year-old on the AFK brand. She is equivalent to a size 6 in regular kids clothes, and she’s almost 9 years old. I bought her an S in the oxford shirt – I was told this is close to a normal size 7/8. Umm, no, this is not even near what a size 7/8 is. It was TIGHT on my slim jim, who wears a size 6. What is wrong with these people?
My problem with AFK is not that it is a brand that fits really slim children, because they need clothes too. My problem is the branding image that this company spends a fortune on – from the half nude cute boy on their bags (that I’m assuming is meant to entice 7-13 year-olds, really??) to the super model skinny tweens featured in their clothes. This brand is socially irresponsible. They are the ONLY major kids brand that doesn’t have a slim/regular/plus sizing option. You know what they have? “Skinny”, “Super Skinny” and “Regular” describe their sizing model. So what kind of message does this send to our beautiful girls who sometimes grow wider than tall at certain times in their lives? It results in this question: Mommy, am I too fat for Abercrombie and Fitch?
Let’s revisit Wendy’s blog this week – My Inner Mean Girl. I vow not to have my girls grow up with a lifetime of dieting and not feeling pretty enough. Beauty is only skin deep. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. I’ve walked in my 5th grader’s shoes, she has her mama’s genes 100%! I grew wider than tall in the middle school years and then I grew into a muscular and athletic woman. But I never stopped thinking that I was too fat. Not until I turned 40 and just decided to throw all of that out the window. Life is too short to constantly try to get a size smaller. I will not allow brands like AFK to muddy my child’s self esteem. She is the most beautiful person I have ever seen, inside and out (aside from her super cute siblings of course:-).
So I’m kicking AFK to the curb, we’re done with that hot mess of a trend. We’re sticking with pink & green happy places, like Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines, that actually make you feel good, no matter what your size is.
This One Direction video is first on our birthday playlist – so fitting, she has no idea how beautiful she is and will become. LOVE One Direction:-)