Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Sometimes, it's not just dressing mannequins...

Part of my job is dressing mannequins. It's like playing Barbies, but bigger.

On Sunday I was changing some mannies and I felt eyes watching me. People often stop and watch us when we are working. We could start a drinking game where every time someone says something like "What are you doing to that girl!" we have a shot. We would work drunk EVERY DAY.
Oh, and we are about to start setting up Christmas, so the 'Christmas already! It's only September!' Drinking Game can resume. Alcohol poisoning, here we come!!

Anyhoo, I turned around and saw a little girl of about six studying my every move. Little girls are super cute when they see us dressing the mannies. they probably think we have the best job in the world! Playing dress ups all day!

The little girl was so fascinated with what I was doing. The clothes I was putting on the girls were neon yellows, little shorts, hot pink and bright orange shoes. This little girl was wearing a muslim head scarf and a long sleeve dress over jeans. Her mum was wearing the same.

It made me think. What does she see when she looks at these beautiful mannequins wearing brightly coloured, modern, sometimes revealing clothing? At her age, she probably doesn't understand that this is (apparently) not for her. That she will never be allowed to wear clothes like this. I wonder if she does have some understanding as she is already wearing a head scarf. I wonder what the rationale is and how it is explained to a little girl that although she lives in amongst all these colours and imagery, it's not for her. I hope it is explained in a way that doesn't make that little girl feel bad about herself.

Then it made me think, what about the other little girls who watch me, who then think that these mannequins are what women should look like? Am I perpetuating an unrealistic ideal for little girls? I despise Bratz dolls and Rhianna film clips and all the bullshit sexual imagery that is bombarding our little girls. I don't want to be part of that cycle.

Hhhmm. I don't judge the muslim parents for dressing their little girl in that head scarf, that is their choice as part of their religion- which I don't know enough about to comment on. But I do wonder how that little girl will reconcile the disparity between what she is and what she sees around her. Is she told that being a girl/ woman is to be ashamed of and should be covered up?

I DO judge the parents who dress their little girls in age inappropriate clothing and allow them to be brainwashed into thinking they have to be 'sexy' or attractive to men to be worthwhile.

Being a girl is fricking complicated sometimes. Throw in head scarves and hotpants and boys and it can all get unbelievably convoluted.

My hope for all the little girls is self confidence and self respect- regardless of what cultural or social expectations are placed on her...


  1. I used to merchandise for Virgin Mobile, and if I had a shot for every retailer that said 'Oh, here is the Virgin Lady. Hahahahah!' I would have died in a fiery car crash long ago.

    Are you allowed to put a hed scarf on a mannie?

  2. Yep Lisa, why do people think they are the FIRST person ever to come up with these gems??? When we are painting walls and stuff, the amount of people who say, "Can you come to my house and do that?" is stupidly ridiculous. And the old chestnut, "What are you doing?" My answer to that, both at work and at home is "building a boat!" Then people look at me like I'M the idiot?

  3. I am often amazed at the clothes that they bring out for little children - black to me is a no no until they are at least in their teens. I really don't like seeing little children running around in black clothes when there are so many other lovely bright colours they could be wearing.
    I am so glad I am not doing the little childrens clothing thing now - it would do my head in. Now I just have to (sometimes) shake my head at what my 20yo wants to wear - luckily she is starting to listen a little (more than when she was a teen anyway !!!!) She paid me the biggest compliment the other day - she had bought some Black Milk leggings which I had said I didn't think would suit her. They arrived and she put them on and shook her head. Then she was big enough to come to me and say "Don't say anything Mom - just have the conversation in your own head. But maybe I should start listening to you more because you told me that these ones wouldn't suit me but I bought them anyway and they don't suit me." - it was all I could do not to laugh out loud !!!!
    Have the best weekend !

  4. Children's fashion has been a bit in the media recently. It is increasingly concerning what some you girls wear now, and what parents seem to be letting children wear. Lt kids be kids. It's crazy I've been selling a lot of vintage/Reto baby and children's clothes on line recentlly, lots of sweet innocent pieces with no logos or trademarks. You know what I can't keep up with it, I have people emailing asking if I have more to list. There is such a need for sweet innocent clothing for children that protects their innocence and modesty.

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