“Seriously,” whispers Bee, looking at me sceptically, “are you really going to let Belle go out like that?”
I look at her, in her pink leggings, which are just that little bit too short, gold striped knitted dress, odd socks and red shoes. It looks alright to me.
I shrug my shoulders innocently, as though it’s out of my hands. I try to make out that I’m actively enabling Belle to use her clothing to express her personality, and that I don’t want to stifle her, but neither of us are convinced.
The truth is that when it comes to kids’ clothes, or clothes generally to be honest, I’m a bit rubbish. I have no real idea of what goes and what doesn’t, and don’t naturally carry off an outfit with effortless grace and elegance, as you can see from this picture of me as a child:
See what I mean?
This is another personal favourite. I do the same cheesy grin in pretty much all my childhood photos:
It’s a miracle really that either of my children have any sense of colour or style at all, but poor Belle seems to have been dealt the weakest hand. Lucky for both of us that we have Bee to keep us in check.
Bee came downstairs one morning recently and literally stopped in her tracks. I smiled, thinking she must be speechless with awe and envy in the face of my amazing combination of accessories. I was particularly pleased with the large flower on my headband.
She shook her head, appalled.
“I can’t say anything,” she said. “It’s all just too silly, I don’t know where to start.”
I felt momentarily dejected, but I’m used to Bee’s ‘no offence but…’ statements, and tried not to let it bother me.
I do think though that at nine years old, Belle should have the freedom to choose what she wears. Clothes are an important part of developing your own identity, even if that identity is ‘slightly grubby looking child who’s been wearing the same cardigan all week’. It’s part of growing up isn’t it? Learning about yourself, what suits you, what makes you feel good?
What do you think? Do you let your kids choose their own clothes, or is the potential bullying risk just too high?