The Inappropriate Mothers of Little Girls

16 Nov


I must have been fast asleep when it become acceptable, indeed fashionable, to dress your little girl like a miniature hooker.

The wedding I attended this past weekend came well-stocked with little girls in fancy dress who clearly believed this was a giant two-day fashion event organized for their sole benefit. I kept the “awww”s ready as every five minutes revealed yet another little cutie proudly showing off her shiny new dress.

I always forget how shiny girls’ childhoods can be until I walk into a wedding and find myself confronted by a colorful array of little ones in frills, net, bows, spangles, and other breathtaking stuff that Mommy secretly wishes she could wear but can’t because she doesn’t want to be mistaken for a giant replica of the wedding cake. Taking center-stage, for example, was the daughter of one of my oldest friends in bright blue, polka dot-flecked leggings coupled with a stylish shrug fashioned out of some spaceman-type silver material and worn with a big silver belt. She walked the length of the room in her little silver ballet flats, preening as she waited for the invisible applause to die down before she resumed her prowl. My ovaries did a little happy dance every time I laid eyes on her.

By no means was she the only pint-sized star either. Mixed in with the usual bells and ruffles, there were little ones in backless cholis, sundresses with spaghetti straps, and a couple of the slightly older ones were even tottering about in one-inch heels with which they were clearly madly in love. All very cute.

And then came the fashionista with her two mini-mes.

I’m not a great one for guessing the age of little children but neither one could have been older than four – the way the younger one was walking, in fact, made me wonder if it was a fairly recent activity for her. They were both beautiful little babies and the older one already looked like a proper little person with hair halfway down her back. But what really grabbed my attention was the way they were dressed.

Both wore ruffled mini skirts in bright colors; the four year old paired it with a ruffled boob tube while the two year old’s baby paunch peeked out of a tiny vest that ended somewhere north of her ribcage. The older one’s look took it one step further to popstar princessdom and was accessorized with fake Uggs.

Frankly, my first reaction was laughter. They were lovely children, a little shy with the (presumably) unaccustomed crowd of strangers and the loud band and so on; but there was something about their unselfconscious pleasure in their ridiculous new clothes that was as charming as such occasions always are. Just as I would have found a baby dressed from top to toe in pink ruffles hilariously sweet as she twirled around the dance floor, I thought these babies with their peekaboo outfits were just as cute.

My second reaction was discomfort. In a room full of children tastefully (or even ambitiously as the sad case might be) attired in age appropriate clothing, the two miniature Britney Spears stood out a mile. I was reminded of a previous post of mine about children who like to run around naked – I felt I would have been far less bothered by a child who abruptly took off all her clothes in the middle of the dinner dance because she really couldn’t be bothered by them than these two girls with their popstar-princess-two-years-removed-from-a-trip-to-rehab look. Nudity in little children is one thing, watching them trundle about in clothes meant to seductively frame said nudity is entirely another.

As the night wore on, I began to feel uncomfortable for other reasons. Those kids have a mother and she was clearly okay with dressing her kids in this particular fashion – who the hell am I to argue? I didn’t go through labor, I didn’t carry them for months in my body, and it’s not like she’s beating those kids or that they looked miserable. Indeed, she appeared to have taken considerable pains with those kids and must have really put in some thought to the whole look. She clearly cared. Also, some kids are just naturally shy and there could have been any number of reasons why they spent their evening clinging to their mother instead of taking part in the Great Balloon Flirtation of the Younger Crowd like the other babies at the party. I couldn’t automatically presume that they disliked their outfits.

By next morning, as I got ready to attend the wedding, I had convinced myself that I was creating a grand fuss about nothing. So a woman had decided that she wanted to dress her little girls like pop princesses. Well, Cinderella can just learn to move over. No skin off my nose.

And then I arrived at the wedding and found the two of them dressed like something out of Mandi. I swear to God. They were wearing ghaghra cholis of the kind you see in risque Hindi music videos. You know – cut down to here and pushed up to there. It looked particularly awful because they had such little girl bodies that it immediately converted the kids into something out of a pedo dream.The mother, in what I can only hope was a species of fever-inspired flash of genius, had even handed the older one the kind of jewelry that went perfectly with some madam on the make. Should I give her points that the look was ultimately more Smita Patil / Neena Gupta arthouse prostitute than Rakhi Sawant / Mallika Sherawat jiggle-my-bits hooker?

It was immensely disturbing. Long time readers will understand that this sentiment doesn’t emerge out of a prudish mindset nor am I inherently against little kids playing dress up. I don’t relish the thought of taking part in the public shaming of mothers either for that matter.

But as I watched those kids wander about in their wildly inappropriate finery, I tried to imagine what people’s reactions would have been if that had been a little boy dressed in a bondage outfit, which is the closest approximation I can conjure up because pop princes like the Jonas Bros don’t have to show their T&A to sell tickets, do they? I’m sure their hormone-addled fan base would love to tear it all off them, but they don’t have to do it on their own.

When Dora the Explorer got her much reviled makeover earlier this year, it sparked a storm of protest from concerned parents. But what nobody seemed to mention is that there is no way in hell a giant brand like Dora goes in for a makeover without extensive research. We have to presume that at some point the data began to come in that children these days react more strongly to stick figures in sexy outfits rather than adorably chubby little girls in active wear.

And we all know kids don’t come marching out of their mothers’ wombs festooned in little feather boas, holding out miniature martini glasses for their lunch – this is learned behavior.

I’m Team Prude on this one.


Posted by on November 16, 2009 in Desipundit, Life, Personal


45 responses to “The Inappropriate Mothers of Little Girls

  1. memsaab

    November 16, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    My mother would be right there with you. She used to put my brother’s clothes on backwards so that he couldn’t wriggle out of them. He looked very funny with sweatshirt hoods hanging under his chin, and zippers going up his back.

    But seriously…what ARE these women thinking? Although I am pretty sure that I did march out of the womb draped in a feather boa and holding a martini glass.

  2. pitu

    November 16, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Some images really never leave you. I remember seeing this little girl (she was maybe 7-8) at an icecream parlor in Juhu (Mumbai). OMG she totally looked like a hooker. Miniscule lime green halter top, lime green micromini skirt, silver sandals. And she pouted and preened the entire time she was there, I just couldn’t look away. This was I think 5 years ago or so. UGH. Actually Juhu is crawling with girls dressed like that. YUCK! As regards, Mandi wear- I have stopped getting shocked at the N. Indian sangeets I get invited to. I just assume there are going to be young girls dressed like someone from Kathipura and they’ll dance on Kajra Re, and all the Northie uncles will whistle and I’ll feel like throwing up all the paneery khaana.

    Team Prude!

  3. harini calamur

    November 16, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    have you seen them dance ??? pelvic thrusts – non existent breasts jutting out and an oomph on their face.

    TV and TV shows have a lot to answer for ! and parents, maybe, ought to be spanked 😦

  4. Gradwolf

    November 16, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    I think the best possible solution is to show these wedding videos to the kids about 10 years later. You’ll get the familiar, “OMG, I can’t believe..”. And if you don’t, then you can be sure there is no hope.

  5. Mamma Mia! Me a Mamma?!?!

    November 17, 2009 at 12:12 am

    One of the biggest reasons I wanted a girl was so that I could play dress-up with her. But these hooker-like outfits leave me very distressed and uncomfortable.

    So on Team Prude with you on this one.

  6. vimoh

    November 17, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Frankly disgusting. Having seen such specimens myself, I can’t help but feel sad. These kids might grow up with misplaced notions about beauty and drown themselves in makeup. A serious kick in the nuts as far as self-esteem goes. Sad really.

  7. Niranjana

    November 17, 2009 at 12:46 am

    Totally with you on this.
    The little boy equivalent IMO is dressing them like they’ve just crawled out of Marine boot camp. It gives me the willies to see mums put their preschoolers in camouflage jackets and chunky boots. Presumably they’re holding off on the guns for a year or two more.

    • nsfw

      November 17, 2009 at 5:16 am

      But boys will always fantasize about being action heroes. :-p When I was young, what I would never understand was WHY anyone would want to look beautiful. Come to think of it, it is STILL one of the stupidest wastes of time. 🙂

  8. sachita

    November 17, 2009 at 3:25 am

    yeah same as harini calamur, the tv dance shows are horrendous.

    besides, from the link you provided, 5-8 is tween these days? so by ext, 8-13 is teen and by 13 they are adults? when did this change happen? so also this means i can retire even before 30.

    did the mom not realize what those dresses were? one day we should quiz these moms about their thought process or i suppose lack of that.

  9. flowergirl

    November 17, 2009 at 3:47 am

    People are dying to get into limelight one way or other. Now children are the best bet. It’s too sad to see these kids have lost their innocence when they imitate item girls in the stage shows and choice of songs really make you wonder/ worry — do they even know rhymes of their times and age.. ?

  10. Hemant Puthli

    November 17, 2009 at 4:31 am

    [reproduced from my comment on the same post on facebook]

    Am glad to hear a voice speaking out on this topic. I’ve always felt revolted by the way they dress up little kids these days and the kinds of things they make them do on TV, with thousands of adults watching. Specifically – little girls in sexy costumes gyrating to raunchy Bollywood numbers. Hullo? forget about bad taste … some of this borders on vicarious pedophilia. The question is – what are we going to do about this?

  11. Shivani

    November 17, 2009 at 4:39 am

    Ha! Love the opening line 🙂 Seriously though, the dance show called Boogie-Woogie that came on Sony is to be blamed for pioneering this movement in India. Kids dancing to ‘Sarkailyo Khatiya’ and suchlike, Javed Jafferey & his brother’s lusty seetiyan made me retch every single time.

    I don’t mind really-little girls (like baby-5) dressed in backless, spaghetti stuff as much as I mind older ones donning them. My niece at 12,on the cusp of puberty, wore a strapless gown-like thingy at a recent social do. I was almost going to whisper into my mum’s ear wtf is she wearing when I heard her mum tell some one “Oh! that’s her b’day gift, her favourite actress Genelia’s outfit in movie so-and-so” err okay! So I and my mum (who dressed me in only frocks all through childhood) are the only prudes in the family 😛

  12. nsfw

    November 17, 2009 at 4:49 am

    Nothing remotely interesting to add, just to chime in and say I am totally with you on this – at the risk of generalizing and being judgemental about a type of people I have never known socially – it is bored stupid housewifes with delusions of glamour. One more arguement for women joining the workforce. 🙂

    • the mad momma

      November 24, 2009 at 2:38 am

      i object milord. was home for long enough and i can’t remember dressing my daughter like a hooker! blame lack of taste if you must, not boredom.

  13. nsfw

    November 17, 2009 at 4:53 am

    .. and birthcontrol. :-p

  14. Kay

    November 17, 2009 at 4:55 am

    I am with you on this one, Amrita! All the way!
    It distresses me to see mothers dress their four and five year old little girls as baby prostitutes! And the worst thing is that you no longer need to be at a wedding to witness this! I have seen four-five year old little girls at malls and restaurants wearing these ridiculous mini-skirts and boob tubes. What is wrong with their mums?!
    Add me to Team Prude on this one too! 🙂

  15. apu

    November 17, 2009 at 5:25 am

    Totally agree on the unnecessary agree on the unnecessary sexualization of children. A little stuck though by the repeated use of “mothers”, “inappropriate mothers” etc. Is that because in India, it is still largely mothers who are still responsible for dressing kids up? Why not “inappropriate parents”? Or, do fathers largely not have views on this? Going by comments like Hemant’s above, I’d think not.

  16. apu

    November 17, 2009 at 5:27 am

    oops. pardon errors please.

  17. harini calamur

    November 17, 2009 at 5:36 am

    on a totally different point – but related :
    a friend of mine was working with an ad agency that dealt with a product aimed at girls under 10. they were given a photo of kareena in k3g and said “that is the role model” – which probably gives you some insights on why moms dress girls they way they do 😦

  18. DewdropDream

    November 17, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Teamk Prude all the way!

  19. Zahra

    November 17, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Count in another Team Prude member!!

    Very well written, and extremely valid…. though I still complain about the super-prudish outfits I was subjected to in my growing up years 🙂

    It’s not as if your clothes determine who you grow up to be, but it does reflect a certain mindset and notion of ‘coolness’….. It saddens me to see little girls getting primped up in weird outfits…. and the not-so-avuncular glances that these 8-12 yr old kids get at such functions turn my stomach :((

  20. Nimmy

    November 17, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Count me as your team mate..Loved this post.. I can relate to what you said.These days,one’s body is getting more and more hyped.. It is odd and sad to see little girls being stared at by dirty people..

  21. Nimmy

    November 17, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Count on me as your team member..

    Loved this post,as i can relate to the incidents around me..It is sad and odd to see little girls being looked down as adults who are there to woo people..It is sad that one’s body is becoming the sole benchmark of success…

  22. Nimmy

    November 17, 2009 at 8:01 am

    oops,i thought my first comment was not submitted,and hence the second one…sorry..

  23. ख़ुराफाती कीड़ा

    November 17, 2009 at 8:12 am

    One of the features of zeitgeist…the spirit of our times. The more provocative you can wear, the more liberal minded you are. Plus we are in the times of blindly-follow-the-slutty-celebs. The mothers are just but going with the flow.

    and to think that you are genuinely concerned. How silly of you!!!

  24. LE

    November 17, 2009 at 8:27 am

    you know whats the boy equivalent of that? read, super tight t-shirt with some random cliched phrase, with super tight jeans and those pointy shoes that only Kunal Khemu wears!! Eww!

  25. Gagan

    November 17, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Bang on. Few days back, while commuting on Delhi Metro, I noticed something strange. A young girl, she could not have been more than 6 or 7 years old, was playing with one of the central steel poles that are present in each carriage. All of a sudden, she started a proper pole dance, complete with thrusts, jerks, bends and sliding down the poles. Most of the passengers simply averted their gaze from the girl. However, her parents made no attempt to stop her. I could not help and wonder if her activities were any indication of what she is exposed to at home?

  26. Ramsu

    November 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    It’s interesting how these things happen. One reason why these things happen is that kids get these ideas from TV, and shows like Boogie Woogie perpetuate the idea that it’s okay to dress kids up like that.

    It’s reasonable to expect that it is the parents’ responsibility to control (to some extent) what their kids are exposed to and how much to give into their whims on things like this. But I doubt it’s quite that simple.

    My guess is that most parents want to be less prudish than their own parents were, but can’t quite figure out where to draw the line, and are influenced by what is “popularly accepted”. I feel it’s just a different, more insidious form of peer pressure — an analogue of the case where our parents want us to marry, have kids etc at a certain age because they are concerned about what others think.


  27. aanteladda

    November 17, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    I too am on your team on this one. I think what is worse than the dresses and the weird fashion parade is the trend towards dance classes where they are actually taught those latka-jhatkas. It is deeply embarrasing when they present it as an accomplishment at gatherings.

  28. M

    November 17, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Oh team prude all the way!

    A corollary of this mode of dress-up, IMO, is bridal “outfits” – yes, even among hard core S.Indians, that resemble grown-up versions of the baby hooker outfits…ghagras with spaghetti strap blouses and the like…ugh.


  29. Halloween Costumes

    November 17, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Yes, it is just absolutely amazing how sexy some of the “pre-teen” costumes have gotten for girls. This trend of course is following the adult trend which has also gotten sexier and sexier over the years. Some of the costumes that I saw teenage girls trick or treating in this year are just unacceptable. It is amazing that parents are allowing it as they are really the ones to blame. Great post, thanks for initiating this great dialogue!

  30. fromherewegosublime

    November 17, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    hmm I didnt know that Halloween was celebrated in India.

  31. Nita

    November 18, 2009 at 1:09 am

    I know a couple who did this to their two daughters when they were 3 or 4. No costumes, just their day to day life! Constantly dressing them up, making them do sexy dances, wear skimpy clothes and pose and pout.
    They continued and as they were family friends I had the opportunity to observe them as they grew older. They thought of themselves as objects, meant to please. They had certain fake mannerisms. When their parents complained they were not doing too well in school what could one tell them? Today these girls are grown up and I wince when I hear them talk. Fake and flighty. Well dressed, poised, and stupid. Frankly I think it takes all types to make a world.

  32. Jawahara

    November 18, 2009 at 4:58 am

    I totally agree. We’ve been talking about it recently as well. When did this trend start? It’s weird that as people are getting more conscious (and sometimes even a bit paranoid) about pedophilia in the U.S., the more I see little girls dressed like hookers prancing around. This early sexualuzation of children is really quite disturbing. Makes me shudder.

    Btw, it’s so wonderful in Europe to see stylish and fashionable little girls… who don’t need to dress like mini-hookers. Non-hookerish clothes do not mean boring.

  33. divz

    November 18, 2009 at 6:37 am

    gah I hate parents who steal the innocence and childhood out of children…
    with you on this

  34. Amrita

    November 18, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Hmm, I see I’m not the only one who felt this way 🙂 Too bad so many of you have run into the same thing.

    To address a point a lot of you made – I think you’re right that this is a manifestation of parents trying to think outside “the pink ruffled dress” box. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to grasp the idea that if you’re going to try and dress a child like an adult then the rules that apply to the adult, go double for the kid. Just as it would be screamingly inappropriate for a grown woman to come to a formal occasion dressed as though she turns tricks for a living, so it’s not cool for a kid. If you want your kid to dress like a miniature adult, it’s one thing – a miniature hooker is something else.

    Memsaab – ha, don’t forget the tiara! 😀

    Pitu – ugh. UGH! UGHHHHHHHHH!!! Why is that considered cute again?

    Mamma – but there’s so much you can do with them that’s not this bad, is the point! There’re some really tasteful, but not button down outfits out there for kids.

    Niranjana – what, no black face paint? 😀

    Sachita – oh, you should have seen what she wore to the wedding. A very traditional South Indian wedding that too. She clearly thought it was fabulous.

    Hemant – well, probably nothing. All you can do is dress your kids well and hope they notice how skanktastic their kids look in comparison.

    Shivani – I havent seen Boogie Woogie in years but I remember back in the day, some little girl showed up full of pelvic thrusts and whatnot and both Jaffreys and the bald guy called her on it and told her choreographer to knock it off. It’s so sad that now they’ve come down to this level too.

    Kay – that is insane! Its bad enough when its a controlled environment but a mall is just stupid.

    Apu – thats a good question. In this particular instance there was no father around, the mother was the sole person around them. And on a larger note, the only two fathers I’ve ever known to be super involved in their kids’ clothing decisions are my father and my mom’s father. There might be more. But if those babies’ father had a hand in choosing those clothes then my level of disturbance just went up by a factor of ten. EWWWWWWWWWW!

    Harini – ew. I guess I should be happy it wasn’t Bebo from KI.

    Zahra, Nimmy, KK – that is just fucked up. the dinner party was fairly intimate and the kids didn’t leave their mother at all but to be honest there was a part of me that just spent the last half of the dinner judging the expressions of everyone who came into contact with those kids. Not to make it all about me, but it really ruined my evening.

    LE – hahahahah! Do they have braids and dreads too?

    gagan – Jeez, I would have freaked the hell out. 😦 If I’m not mistaken I remember reading a long time ago about mother daughter pole dance classes in California or something and it was really disturbing. I didn’t know Delhi had reached that stage. I guess a lot of it has to do with Hindi movies and the fact that parents are used to letting their kids watch just any old thing without recognizing that that zamana is long over.

    Ramsu – ha, it’s like watching So You Think You Can Dance with my mother. She thinks they all dress like that in everyday life and needs to be told that no, it’s a dance COSTUME and they don’t actually work the ho stroll. Sheesh.

    aanteladda – they have dance lessons for that stuff? OH. MY. GOD. whatever happened to the old bharatnatyam classes we used to attend? 😦

    M – well, if they have the figure for it and its in good taste, then whatever. But the sad thing is when I see the bride dressed all Bollyfabulous and then she spends her entire reception tugging at her blouse because she feels uncomfortable with all the uncles looking her over. Ew.

    Nita – that is so sad 😦

    J – bang on! And it’s not like those kind of outfits aren’t available to kids here. And even if they weren’t, in a tailor happy place like India, you should be able to bloody stitch yourself an outfit if you’re that hard up.

  35. deej

    November 19, 2009 at 5:18 am

    Go Team Prude!

    apu – dressing up girls is mostly mum’s domain na? dad gets to play chauffeur on his off days! tho i wonder if the dad wont admire his little chickadees in their finery before they are let loose on the general populace. in my house, at least, kids getting dressed up = photo op!

  36. Num

    November 20, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Relieved to see I’m not the only (so called) prude around!
    Agree with calls for “more women joining the workforce..and birthcontrol” (snigger)
    Had to associate with two “bored housewives with delusions of grandeur” lately and wondered if I’d walked into a parallel universe where it was okay to talk about how ample and lovely your dressed-like-some starlet-five year old’s bum was.

  37. the mad momma

    November 24, 2009 at 2:37 am

    room for another on the team?

  38. Sue

    November 25, 2009 at 7:37 am

    I know what you’re talking about and I don’t get it either. It looks so weird when 6 yr olds wear strategically cut halter-necks — they have nothing to show, the dress falls awkwardly and it all looks very wrong!

  39. AJ

    December 15, 2009 at 6:28 am

    Phew, glad I can post my comments on this post. You know, it’s so DARN sick to see children dressed up for their parents. I mean, they learn to strut and show at an age when things are just non-existent in them. One wonders where’s the line between the lil kid and lil girl. It’s such a sad scene :=(

  40. Halloween Costumes Chick

    February 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    It is sad to see. I do believe that there is a time and a place for it. I did always love getting into my mothers stuff and getting dressed up. It was fun to pretend. She would have not let me leave the house like this. I also feel like if a child learns how to get the wrong kind of attention they will not ever learn how to get the right kind of attention. This can shape the whole personalty.

  41. Katyayni

    April 30, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Dora’s Future… Mommy.. Wakey Wakey!!!!!!!!!!

  42. Johna

    August 7, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Yes, times sure have changed. Slutty halloween costumes are now all the rage. I wouldnt let my little girl dress like that. The costumes are for older women who know better.

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