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My daughter asked if this summer she could get a two-piece suit. She’s 10, she's an age where she is starting to have definite opinions about style. We found a suit at Old Navy online that she liked; a top with a higher neck and a ruffle that covered the bust and matching bottom. The suit arrived, the top was super cute but the bottom… it was a cheeky suit and didn’t completely cover her rear. The front was so low rise her hip bones poked out over the top.
My first thought was, oh this suit is too sexy and mature for her. Then I questioned myself – why am I sexualizing my child? What makes me see this suit as mature? I readjusted my thought process and realized I was still uncomfortable with the bottom of the suit. It was too small to be functional for an active kid. Adults have suits for swimming laps, for paddle boarding, for surfing, and then suits for laying out at the beach or attending a backyard pool party. For kids, their suits need to be multi-functional. They want a suit to reflect their personality or style but also one that will stay in place when going off the high dive or doing a cannonball into the deep end. We adults are used to clothing that shifts, rides up, rolls down. And we know that each time we have to adjust our clothes, we're realizing that our bodies and our wardrobe seem to be at odds. That's not a worry I want my child to have.
I remember in third grade my mom made me a dress that had an elasticized ruffle neckline and a self-belt. I wore that dress on my shoulders, the belt in a bow. When I got to school, I decided to adjust the dress (the passion for fashion arrived at a very young age). I took off the self-belt and tied it in my hair, took the elasticized neckline and pulled it down to make the dress off the shoulder. My teacher asked me to take something down to the office; the hallways were empty and I sashayed down that hallway like it was a runway. The principal came around the corner and saw me. He told me to pull back up my sleeves, a proper young lady didn't dress in such a mature way, it would give the wrong impression. I was humiliated, pulled up the straps, my face was hot, I apologized and raced to get my errand completed. I think the principal thought saying that would stop me from dressing in such a way, but it only intrigued me. I mean, what 9-year-old doesn't want to be seen as mature? However, even if I did feel shame and cover up as the principal hoped I would, that was still a bad lesson to give – your body is a problem, you need to cover it up or people will not understand or appreciate you. I didn't want to make the same mistake as that principal and so many others who, whether they realize it or not, make women feel they deserve disrespect, assault, rape, and more because of what they chose to wear that day.
“How do you like the suit?” I asked her, trying to have a neutral face.
“I don't know, are you okay with it?” She examined her reflection, adjusting the suit.
“I want to know how you feel, you are the one wearing it.”
“I like the top but the bottom… I feel naked. I don’t feel confident.”
“That matters. You should wear what makes you feel confident. Do you want to get a different suit?” OMG OMG she came to her own conclusion, I didn't sway her. Woot!
“I want the top can we find a different bottom?”
Three cheers for Amazon where I found these solid-colored bottoms for a reasonable price, Prime shopping, and free returns. We picked turquoise to complement the coral top. The bottom comes up to her belly button but still looks modern. The color blocking feels fresh and on trend. “I feel grown-up with this suit.” But this is the kind of grown-up I'm okay with at age 10, moving beyond the unicorns and cartoon cats, but still wearing a suit that lets her be a kid.
“Keep yourself in good shape if you can. Have many passions. And look for magic moments.” Advice from Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins who recently ran the 100-meter dash. (New York Times)
On Instagram Stories I shared a video I saw on Twitter of a revolutionary way to peel garlic. I saw it, shared it, and swore I'd try it this weekend and share the results, completely forgetting I'd be out of town this weekend. Well, Helen Rosner of the New Yorker tried it out instead, got it to work, and has tips on how to make it work. (New Yorker)
“We call poor people and fat people bitter when they complain about their circumstances. But then, when the privileged speak out about it, it's like, “Well, you're too privileged to talk about it.” Therefore, who gets to talk about it? That's how they silence all of us. It's a tactic used to make everyone quiet.” I adore Jameela Jamil and love this interview with her. (Paper)
Well, this makes me utterly disgusted. But honestly, there is a lot about my profession that disgusts me. Just know, we're not all calculated, tone deaf, freebie-grubbing assholes. (The Atlantic)
Attention, Walmart shoppers. Amazon is coming for you and in a very nefarious way. (Washington Post)
I remember my parents rolling their eyes when things from their childhood or young adulthood that they didn't think were that great my friends and I found to be the COOLEST. Well, history repeats itself because Vogue is claiming disposable cameras (yep those things that were so unreliable yet convenient but totally discarded once pocket-sized digital cameras came on the scene) to be the next must-have accessory. (Vogue)
When it comes to workout clothing, I'm lazy. I wear things until they no longer fit or are literally threadbare. I buy Zella leggings during Nordstrom sales, scour racks at my local TJ Maxx, and have no problem wearing an old t-shirt to the gym. Well my body keeps changing and most of my leggings are now too big in the waist, causing them to fold over or sag at the crotch. I splurged and bought a pair of leggings full price – the Mesh Contender Capri in Powerlift from Athleta. Omigosh these are AMAZING! It makes me realize why some leggings cost more. First, there's a drawstring waistband so I can be sure they won't shimmy down on the elliptical or show my underwear when doing RDLs. There are side pockets big enough to hold my iPhone Plus, and strategically placed where it doesn't drive me bonkers when running. The mesh panels are far less transparent than the other leggings I have with this feature (and less transparent than the photos online), keeping me cool without feeling exposed. Super durable crotch, thick enough that they won't go sheer when squatting… I'm a fan. I got the Electric Fuschia in Large Petite (for reference I am 5'3″ and usually wear a 14 or large) and I think I may get another pair!
I got in my head a TV show I watched as a kid. I went to find it online and couldn't find it. It was a show about twin sisters who went to live with their aunt or some relative and in my head I see that relative as Cloris Leachman but I think that show I'm thinking of is Our House. Anyway, twins, one is bookish, one goes to fashion school, live in an attic apartment, seems to only exist in my mind. While going down an Internet rabbit hole to find this show I found this list of the 33 best forgotten teen shows of the '90s and it gave me such nostalgia (I had several VHS tapes with recorded episodes of Fifteen as I was in love with Dylan) I had to share it with you. (Buzzfeed)
For Your Entertainment
If there's a new video from Robyn you know I'm going to share it. Especially when it dropped the same week as Taylor Swift's latest (which is awesome BTW). I love this woman, who marches to the beat of her own drum while being a successful artist for decades. I won't ever forget once when I saw her in concert and she performed bouncing on an exercise ball, yes, an exercise ball, but in typical Roby fierceness, she made it look cool and sexy. This video is just as random as using an exercise ball as a concert stage prop and the video work feels like an '80s parody, but even so, it's cool and sexy because it's Robyn. And the song is fire too. Heads up, you can see her nipples through her outfit later in the video, so if that's not cool at your workplace keep this to watch at home.
Katie F. @kfletcher7 says
Love your reflection on parenting a girl. I have 20 month old twin girls and I’m already coming across ways in which society/fashion/whatever starts to drag down on girls at an early age. They got toy purses for their birthday that came with little plastic bangles. They LOVED wearing the bracelets but, since it slid off their little hands, they had to do the widespread finger thing we women have perfected in order to keep too-large jewelry from crashing to the floor. Oh my God. It was awful to realize their little hands were now going to be occupied with this dumb task instead of playing, flipping through books, climbing, etc. But they loved the bracelets…. I ended up going to Claire’s and getting them some of those elastic hair bands that look like old phone cables. They fit snugly on wrists so they can put them on and not think twice.
I also hate when adults tell toddler girls to cover up their “boobies”. Are you freaking kidding me?!? Stop sexualizing that small child!!
Now that it’s summer I’m thinking a lot about future swimsuits for my kids. My mom was very modest and strict when it came to our swimwear. I don’t think I wore a two-piece until I bought my own in college! I like that you made the focus on how the tool (the swimsuit) can best serve the person and the activity. It’s something I will keep in mind.
I think the blogging world is doing itself in. I have quit reading most of them, particularly fashion blogs. They promote the same clothing pieces, they are mostly skinny, tanned, white young women who hold a coffee cup in the same poses. You can tell what company is pushing promotions by what the bloggers are wearing. It just all feels like one big commercial. That being said, I do keep returning to your blog and several others, mostly women a bit older with a unique spin to what they do. I really appreciate your thoughtful approach to issues.
Alison Gary says
Thank you Ellen, that means a lot. It’s hard when the money is offered to you to decline it. I slip up on occasion, but I believe that if I stay true to my mission and connect with my audience making them the focus and not brands, I can still succeed. I see longform content coming back and see some bloggers returning to their old ways. I have an old blog so it has a lot of SEO juice so I have the luxury of being able to write and make money from affiliate links for products I actually wear, like, believe in. I know a lot of others don’t and will write and wear whatever a brand tells them to because it’s the only way they can make money. And that’s a whole other conversation – why people are in this field. But it means a lot that you see a lot of blogs but still read mine, thank you.
I think this is all so new,particularly blogging as a money making venture. My guess is is the dust will settle at some point and those with truly fresh perspectives, like yours, will grow and prosper. Those just out to make a buck or that look just like every other blogger will lose their audience. Lots of growing pains in the process, I am sure!
I think when a parent has a general practice of giving their child a solid moral compass and helping them establish a firm sense of values, you do end up with a kid that can evaluate something like a swimsuit purchase and make a good choice without having to be told what to do. To me, it’s one of the hardest challenges as a parent – navingating the responsibility of making sure our kids, particularly girls, are proud of their bodies and minds ….but are also protecting them from the sad fact that even a swimsuit can draw the attention of awful people who will try to take advantage of their childish innocence or pass unfair judgment on them. That your daughter could evaluate her options on her own and make the right choice for her is a huge victory for you, mama!
Alison Gary says
Thank you! It IS hard! But when a conversation like this happens, it’s motivation to keep on the path. Not everything sinks in, but if you keep it up, enough soaks in to help them become good humans!
I’m really disappointed to see you selling wine on your website and Instagram. I do realize you need to make a dime, but we live i a society that already pushes alcohol on middle aged women aggressively. It’s just so canned and stereotypical. I used to admire you for your role model status of healthy eating and regular exercise. Everything now is a sponsored post and the wine it just the worst of it.
Alison Gary says
Hi Elizabeth, I thank you for taking the time to write this. To take the time means you care, and I really appreciate you speaking up. I haven’t promoted alcohol ever before Barefoot Wine, and there’s a few reasons why I made the choice:
A. Barefoot has been a vocal LGBTQI ally since 1988. Few brands were willing to do that back then, and since then they have donated, advocated, and been a vocal supporter. I loved that they asked me because they knew I was an ally and was already going to DC Pride and walking in the parade with PFLAG.
B. I appreciate that this brand picked influencers from all ages, sizes, lifestyles, and follower counts on Instagram. In a business when people judge you more by your followers than the quality of your work, it’s refreshing and I like to support brands who do that.
C. The campaign is for four Instagram posts in my feed with cooresponding Instagram Stories. They respected that I didn’t want to share on my blog where I purposely do not discuss alcohol for a multitude of reasons. One being I have several readers in recovery, but also for the reasons you stated. The only wine promotion seen on this blog is via the Instagram feed that pops up at the bottom of the page.
I hate that it seems every post is a sponsored post. I only do two a month and post at least four times a week. Sometimes the schedule ends up being out of my control and they end up back to back. Again, I am really thankful for your comment and this is good feedback and I’ll consider it when new campaigns are offered to me. Thank you.
I was in Dewey last weekend and saw quite a few younger teens in suits with high-waisted bottoms.
Your daughter will fit right in, and won’t be hesitant to wade into the surf wondering if she’ll lose her bottom if a wave topples her.
Alison Gary says
Exactly! The high-waist is in, why not give it to ALL ages?
Wonderful dialogue between you and your daughter. You held on to yourself, played it cool, and got the reward! Congratulations!
But as for your statement that she is “starting to have definite opinions about style,” have you forgotten so quickly your posts from several years ago, when she was a mere toddler and insisted on certain color combos and garment mixes? She’s been ripening her style for some time now!
Alison Gary says
You’re right! It’s funny because then it was all about what she liked, now it’s so hard to know, okay she likes pink. Nope it’s only certain shades and only a certain amount and only for this kind of garment not that. But she has been defining her style for a while!
Double Trouble was the name of the show. Liz and Jean Sagal (sisters of Katey Sagal from Married with Children) played the twins. I remember two seasons: first one they were in high school and lived with their dad, second they lived with their aunt in New York. I know way too much about 80s tv!
Ibid. 🙂 Also, the aunt was played by Barbara Barrie.
OMG thank you!! I vaguely remembered it too and went stalking Cloris Leachman’s IMDB profile to try and figure it out. I should have read the comments first! While looking, I remembered having a long running argument with a friend about a role that I swore was played by Cloris Leachman and he said it wasn’t. I remembered that he eventually proved me wrong but had no idea who the other actress was so I couldn’t look it up that way. Seriously, thanks, you have made by day!
Alison Gary says
YOU ARE AWESOME! Thank you!!!
My youngest daughter is also 10 and I greatly appreciate reading about how to appropriately navigate body positivity, style, and comfortability for pre-teens. Kudos to you and E!
Alison Gary says
Thank you! This is an age where situations like this seem to pop up on the daily!
Was the name of the tv show Double Trouble?
Alison Gary says
It WAS!!! Thank you!
I swear by Old Navy workout leggings, opaque and last forever. I like the high waist version, wear the 7/8 length most of the year and cropped in the summer, been wearing them for years. They are always going on sale! Highly recommend!
Alison Gary says
Thank you for this! I haven’t bought Old Navy since my old shape, I need to try them again!
interesting read about the “spontanous” proposal ….do i care that the proposal and all related events were clearly staged and sponsered? no, do i care that it was not disclosed? YES…and so should everyone else, i really don’t care if an “influencer” is willing to sell their soul for something to wear, but i think in this day and age its more and more important to know who and what is behind the curtain.
and i just want to say, thank you for providing me with interesting and thoughtful reads…and for being open and honest about sponserships etc….
Alison Gary says
I fully agree. I don’t understand brands that don’t want influencers to clearly disclose. Sure, sponsored posts don’t get as much engagement, but if we all are transparent the tide will turn and the audience will trust us more, thereby increasing engagement and sales. I am so glad you like the Weekend Reads!