“Material Girl” should not be so young

March 16, 2009 — by Emily Chen and Elizabeth Cheng

Dear adolescent girls of America,

Contrary to popular belief, your self-worth is not based in the label splayed across your overpriced neon pink tracksuit that’s made of the same material as what I dry myself off with after a shower. Also, nobody can tell if the “Merry Berry” lip gloss you’re wearing is M.A.C or Smackers. Furthermore, the purpose of make-up is to conceal flaws and enhance features – so it is not in any way necessary, or complementary, for you to be wearing four layers of foundation and concealer, topped with bronzer and blush when your skin is still flawlessly smooth and pimple-free.

Paparazzi-crazed Hollywood has made it possible for voyeurs and pop-culture fiends across the country to see every change of outfit Lindsay Lohan may make in the course of a day. Adolescent girls are being exposed to this constant barrage of Juicy Couture tracksuits for Starbucks runs and Gucci bags for Blockbuster visits, and strive to emulate such high-fashion styles.

Although we realize that it is an individual’s right to purchase expensive luxury brand names if they possess the wealth to do so, the fact of the matter is, it’s never necessary for a 12-year old girl to be wearing velour sweatpants that cost more than an iPod nano, when she is just going to get sick of it by the time next season rolls around.

The capricious nature of adolescent girls should further serve as an argument for why parents should not indulge these ridiculous demands. Pre-teens and teens alike should not be focused on deriving their sense of self from the labels in their closet, but rather for their intellect and personality. For parents to capitulate to a pouting pre-teen who is sulking because she doesn’t have the “cool” labels is detrimental to that child’s growth as a human being, and ultimately society as a whole, as more and more of these label-sporting girls overrun the media, giving the impression that “everyone’s got one.”

Another point to make is the fact that many of the styles the girls try to emulate are simply unsuited for them. Take for example, the mottos that decorate many Hollister and Abercrombie shirts. Pre-teen girls buy the clothes without actually understanding the implications. Many would argue that the how offensive the words are depends on the person reading them and that people have the right to wear whatever mottos they choose. But it is doubtful that most little girls want to give off a conceited and arrogant persona despite what their T-shirt may say.

There’s also the matter of questionable cuts on the shirts and the short hemlines on the skirts. With celebrities unafraid to bare their skin, many pre-teens seem to be doing the same. People do have the choice to wear what they wish, but, again, it is unlikely those girls know what they’re doing by wearing the low tank-tops and short miniskirts. If they knew they were inviting the leers of perverted old men, they would likely choose clothing with better coverage.

While we realize it is not in our power to enact any sort of measure that would prevent young girls from wasting their money on unnecessary designer goods and wearing fashion simply not made for their age-set, we simply want to point out all the harms that undoubtedly occur as a result of the practice. It is bad enough that society glamorizes being unhealthily thin – do we really need to also spread the message of materialism and mindless conformity?