Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Land of the Soon-to-be-Liliputians

I went clothes shopping for my 9-year-old this past week. Given the rate at which they grow, and how soon clothes become too small, and given that we refuse to dress monkey in massively too large clothes because “she will grow into them”, this is something we have to do every few months or so (as i am sure most parents do).

Usually, i tend to just buy to replace, unless it is the once a year “durga puja” spree. The last few years she has gotten enough clothes as gifts that i didnt need to systematically replace the entire wardrobe at one go. This time though, there was no option. With everything either too tight or too short, off we went for a heavy duty fill the closet shopping expedition.

Unlike previous years, i chose to visit one of the better known chain stores at a mall, because we had so much to buy and i was sick of the boring styles and lack of choices at neighbourhood stores. Imagine my horror then, when i had to buy everything in sizes marked 15-16 years! That's right, my not-even-10-years old monkey could not fit into anything supposedly made for her age, or for four years after! Anything for 10 year olds was so ridiculously small it looked like something her teddy bears would wear. Things made for 12-13-14 year olds would not button or seemed ready to burst at the seams.

And before you think it, no, monkey is far from a fat/chubby child. She weighs less than 45 kg on her 4 feet 10 inch frame, quite a bit lower than the 52-67 kg recommended. This slim child, who is not so freakishly tall as to tower over her peers (on the taller side, sure, but not hugely so), could not fit into ANYTHING supposedly made for anyone below 16! And even then, when she tried everything at home, i had to take 3 items back to get larger sizes!

Am i the only one who thinks this is insane! Are all kids shrinking? How on earth can a normal healthy avarage 16 year old fit into any of these clothes? And what is wrong with the 10 year olds that they are that tiny? All of them? If these sizes are according to actual kids and their body measurement, i think there is a huge crisis of health looming, and we need to seriously and systematically look into nutrition and growth for an entire generation. If my “not a giant” but healthy and within recommended growth parameters kid is 5 sizes too large, something is seriously wrong somewhere.

The other possibility, of course, is that this is all a part of the insidious conditioning going on everywhere, in media, in ads, in movies, wherever you look. Clothing manufacturers are not the most honest or nicest of people, this i know. As a “plus size” woman i have enough trouble even finding clothes that fit, let alone stuff that's trendy and fashionable and makes me look good. But to target kids this young? To send them the message that perfectly normal, avarage bodies are – too large – is unacceptable. These are the kids who will grow up hating their bodies and constantly trying to make themselves smaller with diets, slimming products, gyms, anorexia, bulimia ... hmmm thats probably what they are aiming for. A whole generation of paranoid kids/preeteens/teens/young adults/adults means lifelong captive markets for a myriad unnecessary products and services.

I am going to spend all my life trying to undo as much of this conditioning as i can, for my daughter. I might succeed so some extent, as my parents did with me, although it still lingers subconsciously, and gets tougher every year to undo for the kid too. I shudder to think of the kids who are getting these external messages, and no parental messages to counter them, either because the parents are not paying attention, dont care, or are themselves conditioned and indoctrinated and unable to counter it.  

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