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‘Gusto Niya Sumikat Bilang Influencer’ Moms Share Thoughts On Dressing Up Daughters Maturely
PHOTO BY SHUTTERSTOCK
  • “Malaking bulas kasi.”  

    Roughly translated as ‘big for their age,’ this is the most common reason why some moms we interviewed about age-appropriate fashion would reply when asked how they feel about their kids (some as young as five years old) wearing almost adult fashion

    It’s an explanation that makes a lot of sense—there are instances when moms can’t find the right size of clothing for their kids anymore so they’d have to resort to going to the young teens or young ladies section just to get the size that they need. 

    ‘Gusto niyang sumikat bilang influencer’

    And then there are moms like Rosemarie*. Rosemarie dresses up and allows her 14-year old daughter Kristine* like a budding fashionista—crop top, short denim shorts, heels, and makeup. Kristine is a pretty girl, but because of her fashion sense, she could easily pass off for an 18-year old. 

    “Gusto kasi niya making beauty queen and sumikat sa social media bilang influencer kaya ako, support lang. Yun talaga ang gusto niya,” Rosemarie said. 

    In contrast, my own 14-year old son still plays Minecraft and worried about a chaperone to accompany him and his friends when they decided to have lunch last month. Fashion was the last thing he worried about. 

    So a question that begs an answer is this: What is the biggest influence for young kids (girls in particular) to dress way above their age? Media, social media, in particular, seems to play a major role in this development. 

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    Growing up in a generation of K-pop, Jenners, and Hadids, whose provocative fashion sense is available for everyone to see 24/7, it is no surprise that young girls would start aspiring to become like them one day.

    From young influencer to family business venture

    But is such an early exposure really bad? 

    Eight-year-old Jean* grew up being dressed up like a miniature model by her mom, Ana, since the tender age of two. She was dressed up in gowns and heels, fully made-up and always camera ready. She amassed a significant following online and landed some sponsorship deals at a very young age. 

    But more than that, Jean’s ‘influence’ became the gateway of a new family business—a production company complete with a studio and a modeling agency that is always on the lookout for fresh faces for different production outfits. 

    “At the start, it was done in the spirit of fun. Jean and I love dressing up and we love taking pictures of ourselves. In time, we realized that Jean has become recognizable among kids her age and I can see that she was truly having fun and it didn’t affect her studies at all so why not just pursue this course?” Ana says.

    Is your child being objectified?

    Dressing up provocatively at a very young age could also mean being in danger of being viewed as a sexual target. Various international studies have already been done linking dressing sexy (for both women of age and very young girls) and being objectified or what’s called objectification theory. 

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    In a published research titled “Dress, body and self: Research in the social psychology of dress,” its researchers pointed out that women living in sexually-saturated cultures are “looked at, evaluated, and potentially objectified and treated as objects valued for their use by others.” 

    In theory, objectification means getting attention as a sexual target, focusing not entirely on the fashion but the exposure of bodies and one’s body parts based on what media has portrayed as desirable or sexy. 

    So is this something that moms Ana and Rosemarie are afraid could be projected by the way their daughters dress? 

    “Not really,” Rosemarie said. “I am always with her when she goes out, especially when we join events like model searches or simply going to the mall, so I don’t think she is in any kind of danger.” 

    Ana, on the other hand, said that what people see on social media is simply there—online. “When we go out or when we’re at home, I’d like to believe she dresses up normally. This is just another side of her.” 

    Nothing wrong with it vs. let kids be kids

    We asked more moms of daughters what they truly think about dressing older than their children’s age and we got ourselves some really interesting replies. 

    “As long as I think the occasion is appropriate, I don’t really mind my daughter dressing up with something that’s more mature for her age,” says Champ Harima, a teacher and mom of two.

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    “For parties or even school pageants maybe, as long as parents don’t go overboard. With pageants kasi, it's more of giving emphasis on what is cute, transformation, the curves and sexiness,” depending on the age range of the pageant.

    She adds, “So dress for what’s appropriate. In casual situations I let my young daughter wear crop tops kasi she’s comfortable with it but for safety reasons I don’t allow heels,” she says.

    Izah Morales-Dy, a young mom and owner of The Sweet Life Bakery, shared that moms should focus on enjoying their kids’ age. 

    “Personally, I'm not okay with it. Let kids be kids. They grow up fast so enjoy the chance to dress them up appropriately to their age. May iba kasing clothes na sa bata lang talaga bagay,” she says.

    Yen Lim Galagnara, a mom of three girls whom she has fully supports when it comes to their individuality, has another view on kids acting and dressing up like adults: 

    “Siguro the real issue here is not the dressing up as an adult part. It’s how the kids present themselves to the world. 

    For me, it goes back to the values of the parents, how you aspire your kids to be when they grow up. In my case, I always tell them to be the best version of themselves.” 

    Use fashion to teach independence

    So how do they guide their kids when it comes to fashion? 

    Mommy Champ shared that fashion should be discovered gradually but is something that can be to their advantage. “Kids feel excited and proud with dressing up and most especially sa chosen outfit nila for the day, it's like pretend play na din. 

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    It's a form of self-expression and it adds confidence since they get to choose their clothing style preferences. As long as appropriate sa occasion, situation, and place. Yung sa pageant, Little Miss Philippines gowns lang muna sila to highlight their cuteness,” she says.

    As for Mommy Yen, “I allowed them to choose their clothes but I had to guide them because I don't want them to overdo it. 

    For example when one of my daughters was young and she would pick this top and a bottom and the designs or colors didn't match, I gave suggestions and took it as a teachable moment about fashion.”

    But I would make it appear that she was the one who chose it. It was the ultimate brainwashing moment!” she said in jest. 

    Ultimately, the moms agreed that however their kids dress or behave, it will always be a reflection of their family’s culture and values. So the best advice they can give is to guide them and be with their children every step of the way. 

    *Names have been changed at their request

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