How to Dress Your Four-Year-Old: As a Fashion Slave, or Just a Slave?

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April 29 2011 2:53 PM

How to Dress Your Four-Year-Old: As a Fashion Slave, or Just a Slave?

The Wall Street Journal reported this week on an emerging consumer-ideological battle front: who will dictate what America's

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? If you said, "Their parents," you are obviously not a parent. If you said, "Their grandparents," you may be a parent, but you are unaware of the even greater external forces asserting themselves:


A growing number of preschools and child-care centers are requiring children to wear uniforms. Many parents like the ease of dressing children in uniforms and say it usually costs less than other clothing. Day-care directors say uniforms lend an atmosphere of professionalism, giving a sense of order and security.
An atmosphere of professionalism. Order and security

. Is your child properly, professionally dressed for the

pre-kindergarten

Kinderfabrik?



Here are some more ways that the Journal's sources describe the benefits of mandatory identical clothing for toddlers:


Uniforms reinforce feeling part of a group for children, she says....Aubrie has "more of an attitude that, 'This isn't playtime, this is school now,' " says Ms. Malinowski....[W]earing the same navy polos or sweatshirts with khaki pants as required of elementary students "makes them feel a part of the school," encouraging them to think of preschool as the beginning of their education.

What better opportunity than age 3 or 4 to stamp out the notion that a child should have "playtime," or to cut off any emerging sense of individual identity?



Not that the children will develop individual identities, anyway, since the leading alternative to uniforms is status-grasping kiddie konsumption. Did you know they make "skinny jeans" for toddlers now? Do you know how ridiculous it looks if you try to fit a pair of short-rise skinny jeans over a diaper? But the kids understand that they're supposed to care:


As one child begged her to "look at my new pretty dress and my sparkly shoes," Ms. Palmer says, a classmate approached her and said, " 'Miss Janice, I have on a new dress today, too, and you didn't tell me I was beautiful.' All of a sudden they were comparing themselves with each other."

Drones or shoppers: those are your choices. The same educator who praised making children "part of the school" noted that uniforms "level the playing field for disadvantaged students." This is a decent argument for uniforms, in a completely degenerate country, in the absence of sumptuary laws or common sense.



(Related: the state of Michigan plans to save money by cutting the annual

for foster children and children from poor families, which is currently $79, and providing the funds on gift cards that would be restricted to thrift stores.)



Also, charmingly, some of the uniforms pictured alongside the Journal article include button-front shirts—shirts with cuffs, even—and wee little belts, with buckles. Have these people ever dressed a toddler in real life?

Tom Scocca is the managing editor of Deadspin and the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future.

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