After reading Fancy Nancy to my daughter, a book that is equally fabulous as it is educational, and hearing all about the princess ball, velvet bows and all, that she is planning with her friends at "choice time" in school, I was confronted with an awesome realization. You know, the kind the usually arises after 5 years of therapy and a lot of talking. Sure, am I a little disturbed by the notion that my daughter will be cheek to cheek with Bryan, Claude or Cal. But my emotional, guttural response is rooted in the fact that she has finally been indoctrinated into the greatest initiation known to woman (and some men too): the world of pretty things.
To be clear, my daughter is by no means a "girlie girl"; she is making a rock band out of paper and cardboard as we speak. However, she has become increasingly fascinated with clothing, high heeled shoes, parties, boys, dolls, jewelry and nail polish. This may be my influence, no doubt about it. But it also speaks to the ways in which the fashion industry directly shapes a child's identity. My daughter's fashion education began with tutus, crowns, plastic jewels, hats, sunglasses and fancy dress up shoes but will evolve over time. So Mr. MarcJacobs, Mr. RalphLauren, Mr. J. Mendel, Ms. DonnaKaran, your next potential addict is right around the corner.
And as I settled on to the coach, and when I say settled, I mean collapsed, I recalled distinct memories from childhood: watching my mother put on her makeup, standing in front of a closet choosing outfits, seeing my 55 year old aunt in leopard print and old Gucci boots and putting on mounds of jewelry without a care in the world. My fashion identity was shaped by all this and more and thus began my romantic love affair with fashion. And I think I am a better woman because of it.