It's no longer shocking to read stories like the one by Cathy Alter in today's Washington Post, which details the world of image consulting and upscale makeovers for teenage girls. And yet somehow, it's still a bit depressing.
Alter's piece explores the growing trend of image consultations for young girls, who, due to the increased societal pressures to present a certain image thanks in part to tween stars like Miley Cyrus and makeover gurus like Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, feel that their looks need an upgrade. Alter follows a group of girls as they go through a session with "image coach" Sharon Glickman, who attempts to educate the girls about such things as dressing for one's body type (blargh), seasonal styles, and how to dress well even in difficult economic times. The girls are appreciative of Glickman's help, as one admits that the school fashion scene "can be pretty competitive."
Dressing for your peers, and being judged on such a thing, is a middle and high school rite of passage that never really ends. To that end, it's not really shocking or, for that matter, infuriating that young girls are seeking out fashion advice from experts. It is, however, a bit depressing, if only because it's a continuation of the notion that one's clothes (specifically, the brand name of one's clothes) are the true mark of who one really is, when that is often enough not the case. One wishes it weren't about knowing what's "so last season," as much as what works for the individual and inspires self-confidence. It also seems a little strange that some of the issues re: self-esteem are being addressed externally as opposed to internally, though one can argue at that age, feeling more comfortable in one's body due to clothes that make one feel more pulled together might help a bit.
Still, it would have been nice if someone had pulled me aside and said, "You know what? Socks over tights under shorts plus a raspberry beret might not be the thing to wear in your 7th grade class photo." But then again, my smile in that photo is pretty big, so perhaps the image I laugh at now was the one I was going for back then. I suppose if you have the means to help your daughter create an exterior appearance via clothing and hair that makes her feel happier and more confident, that's all well and good—just as long as she doesn't lose herself in the process.
The Minor Makeover [WashingtonPost]