The Tweens Tire Of Bratz-Influenced Styles

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Tired of the slinky, Bratz-esque fashions that have been shoved upon them over the past decade or so, tweens are finally moving back toward fashionable but age-appropriate clothing. The reasons: Hannah Montana and parental approval.

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Caroline Ryder of the Los Angeles Times explores the sartorial shift, noting that for many tweens, a need for stylish clothing is balanced with a desire for comfort and the need to please their parents. "Today's tweens want to please their parents, which may have a lot to do with the sweet 'n' sensible styles they're opting for," Ryder writes. An ever-narrowing generation gap between the kids and their parents is thought to be the reasoning behind this shift. ""Every piece of research we have done has shown that the generation gap is closing," Gould says. "Girls and boys truly look to their parents for second opinions, and they want to make sure they are doing what their parents feel is appropriate for them," Jane Gould, vice president of Consumer Insights for Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group, tells Ryder, "Kids tell us overwhelmingly that family is the most important thing around them — it's no longer the 'us versus them' mind-set."

Ryder also points to the cultural influences of Hannah Montana and High School Musical, wherein the stars are dressed in the latest trends, but in a way that seems fairly innocuous and fun, as opposed to the "come and get me" fashions of the tween stars of our era: Britney, Christina, and the like. Yet not every influence is praised: the hellhole known as Abercrombie & Fitch is cited as "the chief enabler of precocious tween dressing," what with half-naked poster models, heaps of cologne flowing through the air ducts, and darkened stores providing a sexified shopping experience. "You walk into their stores and there are giant pictures of shirtless boys. Seven-year-olds will be shopping there, and yet it is kitted out like a nightclub: very dark with loud music and spotlights. These kids are totally overstimulated by the time they leave," says Kristen Taylor, a tween boutique owner who offers more age-appropriate clothing to her clients.

When I was a tween, my mother bought all of my clothes, so I didn't really have the chance to rebel too much. (I did, however, sneak Blue Razz-berry Blow Pops to school in order to give myself a gothy blue-lipped look. Shock me, shock me, shock me, with that deviant behavior!) My mother tried to be fair when it came to picking out clothes: fads were okay, as long as they were age-appropriate, and she allowed me to express myself through wacky accessories and shoes. It was more about dressing like a hip, fun little kid than dressing like a 25 year old on her way to the club, know what I'm sayin'? Whether or not this trend lasts, it's nice to know that kids are willing to be kids for just a little while longer. And that Blue Razz-berry Blow Pops are still for sale, for those of you interested in a kickass pair of gothy blue lips.

Tween Style Takes A Modest Turn [LATimes]

DISCUSSION

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Honestly, I'm glad to hear this. I have a 5 year old niece and I'm hoping this will continue to be the fashion for her. She's a creative, artsy kid who, when I sent her some handmade necklaces wore ALL of them at once because she just couldn't choose. She also likes to combine textures and colors, in that way that only little kids can manage.

I mean, the truth is, kids and even pre-teens, do have sexual impulses. But they should be able to explore that in a way that doesn't push it on them from outside, or objectify them, especially girls. Our culture puts so much pressure on women with our beauty obsession and body commentary...I'm grateful I grew up during Grunge because it let me really figure out my own style that I'm still comfortable with, even if it's "grown up" and more sophisticated now.