Sunday, August 22, 2010
Well, when did people need to be cool? I imagine as soon as they felt like wearing the kids of clothes they thought were interesting. Baby clothes have traditionally been, well, traditional. Or specifically uninteresting. Although this could also be said to extend of fashion in the past fifty years - essentially since the sixties' breakdown in so many traditional normative standards of cultural behavior. In time there has been a flowering of variety in individual fashion.
So maybe children's clothing is just finally catching up with the times. And the times happen to be very individualistic. One's clothes have in many ways taken on hyper-significance. While we may take this for granted in adults, in children it seems awkward and garish. If we as adults have been able to craft identities at least semi-consciously, actively choosing to distinguish ourselves via dress, who is doing the choosing for our children, who simply haven't reached that stage in their development.
The answer of course is us. We are choosing it for them. And this may be part of what seems so odd. Our children have become little accessories to our identity. But is this new? There have always been identities. There there may have not been so many. As the modern world has thrown old paradigms into question, identities have become more fluent, less easily defined. So where in the past a child's dress was no less a reflection of the parental identity, the relative sparseness of the identity landscape limited children's fashion overall.
So is it impossible to escape incorporating our children into our own identity? Maybe not. Maybe it is inevitable. Like the pink elephant, you can't not think about it. Maybe it doesn't matter. And after all, the people who probably care the least are the children who have to wear the clothes in the first place.