Quick: name three things you wouldn't mind your elementary school-aged daughter growing up to be. Doctor? Lawyer? Happy? How about the Future Mrs. Justin Bieber?
I mean the Biebs no disrespect, but I'd rather the teen star steer clear of the bookbag and pigtails set for a little while longer. Problem is I'm seeing "Future Mrs. Bieber" shirts popping up lately, and they're not on the chests of boy crazy teens. They're made for girls in elementary school or younger.
I'm not one of those hysterical moms. Really. I saw Abercrombie & Fitch Kids was selling push-up bikinis to girls, and before I started a letter writing campaign, I checked around to see how OLD the intended wearers were. When I realized they were tweens and young teens, I moved on. The five-year age gap between 7 and 12 is significantly larger developmentally than that between a 20- and a 25-year-old.
But these are all over the web, from Etsy shops, where they're made for kids as young as 2, to the big chains, where the starting age seems to be 7. And I'm officially creeped out -- not least because we're going through a stage that many parents will recognize.
I've spent significant amounts of time in recent months trying to explain to my 5-year-old why she probably won't marry her kindergarten "boyfriend." I've reminded her that I didn't know her Dad when I was in kindergarten, so there's a world of great guys out there that she'll meet sometime AFTER she turns 6. All to no avail, of course. She's got that kindergarten mindset of boy plus girl = marriage. But a friend who is a child psychologist assured me it's normal. And like I did with my own kindergarten boyfriend, who I avoid like the plague today, she'll likely move on.
But that's a child's normal processing of how the adult world works. They're testing out the idea of growing up to be married like their moms, dads, grandparents. They choose other kids they know to test out the idea of "love."
But these t-shirts are selling another concept to little girls. Lust. They turn a rather abstract idea into something more concrete. That they SHOULD be looking at the opposite sex as sex objects, and they don't need to know anything about the mettle of someone's character to want to marry them. A kindergartner falling in "love" with the little boy who sits by her during circle time is at least choosing him because of his good qualities (in our house, it's because he "doesn't say gross stuff like poop"). A kindergartner displaying her "future Mrs. Justin Bieber" shirt is basing this "marriage" idea on nothing more than fame and a guy's looks.
Is it any wonder there are little girls sending vicious hate mail to Bieber's current flame, Selena Gomez, these days? They're being fed a concept that they're not mature enough to handle, and they're responding in kind.
These t-shirts might work for tween girls who build harmless crushes and are starting to cotton on to the idea of "sex appeal" vs. "kindness, intelligence, etc." Maybe, maybe not. It depends on her maturity level. But they're certainly inappropriate for a 5-year-old, a 7-year-old, etc.
What do you think? Would you let your daughter be the "Future Mrs. Justin Bieber"?
Image via Children's Place