Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dress Up Time!

    There are so many ways we teach the language of Attire to our children.  We teach it first by example, of course. Our kids learn about what is mete and good, from us.  They learn a good deal of it too, from the media, naturally. But far more importantly, they learn how to speak the language to each other in their play time together.
    We encourage, at least most of us do, encourage our children to play at dress up.  We allow them to engage their creativity, and indulge their fantasies by togging themselves in all manner of fantastical gear.  What most of us are unaware of when we do this is, we are giving them the freedom to explore the Attire language, its words, meanings, and applications, on their  own.  Honestly, as someone who tried to take on another language as an adult, immersion is the only real answer, so this sort of play is deeply wise.
    What it also allows them to do is fix in their minds all our culturally accepted notions of gender roles, and potential career choices. So, seen from a point outside, that can be a detriment.  But it is the ultimate source point for each of us, as adults, for all our often rigidly held ideas about what looks good, what can and should be worn, and by whom.  The internet, in fact all the various media are full to the brim with people who are only too ready to tell us what does, and does not work.  The rules get reinforced constantly, and they start in our childhood.
    Every time a small girl gets positively reinforced for wearing a princess dress, by being told she is pretty, or every time a small boy in his Batman cape gets a pat on the back for being a super hero, these ideas get more deeply ingrained.   In fact, in looking about for good imagery to spice up this very post, the huge majority of pics I found were staunchly within the regulation options for children playing at adult roles and looks.
    So if we choose to parent, its vital we keep this in mind. We may be doing our own child a disservice by locking them into patterns that might not serve them well once they find out fully who they are as adults.  More broadly, helping to continue these social constructs helps keep both women and men locked into narrower life paths than they might otherwise have.  And finally, every time we say that this is okay to wear, while that is not, we teach children that its correct to be judgmental of other's choices. 

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