The Myth Being Sold To Our Daughters, All In The Name Of Fashion…

A birthday was looming and a wardrobe needed a bit of a refresher, so I went clothes hunting – not for myself, but for my daughter. I remember when she was eight despairing in the store as she and I had set aside a Saturday afternoon to go clothes hunting. Just the two of us. A precious treat when you have se7en siblings and five of them are brothers. Turns out it was one of our worst shopping experiences ever. Clothes for her age group had a young tv star in the arms of her male counterpart… pouting at each other across what looked like half a t-shirt.


Where are the clothes in the stores that look like these?

Nothings has changed in the last few years… except maybe girls clothing has become worse. Apart from the flimsiness of girls clothing – and I have several boys that help with the laundry… yes chores are chores in our house. They ask why their sisters have such flimsy clothes compared to their own more sturdy clothes. T-shirts made of skinny fabric, socks that don’t last more than a couple of weeks, if they are actually worn. The question my boys ask, is this: If their sisters are expected to climb the same trees and muck about in the same mud, ride their bikes on the same gravelly roads then why is their clothing so pathetically made? Why is the fabric so flimsy? Good point, clothing for girls is in general… not worth the fabric it is printed on. But I digress… I am not writing about the quality or durability of their clothing here. I am writing about the mixed messages that girls are sent: “You can do anything you like, but we can’t provide you with the necessary equipment…” No rugged gear for you, not if you want to wear clothing for girls that is.


Anyway a couple of weeks back I decided to make a concerted effort to go on a realistic, open-minded hunt for clothes that my girls would like and were rugged enough for day-to-day wear. I had no illusions that nearly all the clothes would be pink… I have no problem with pink, yes my girls like pink – but they like other colours as well… another subtle message sent to our daughters… “You can wear what you like, you can be your own unique and stylish self… as long as your uniform is pink.” Just saying, my one daughter’s favourite colour is turquoise and another loves purple…


But it wasn’t the flimsy clothing that astonished me… or even the amount of “pinkness” that literally hits you… in waves. I was actually shocked by the clothes my daughters are expected to wear… Undies for a five year old, that say… just never mind, I don’t actually want to write that on our blog. Do I want my daughter to aspire to be “owned by someone?” or worse… sorry kids but there is not a chance on earth that you are ever wearing that. Forget about underwear… what about outer wear… we are headed into winter here and in two leading stores the only available clothes for girls were denim shorts that were so short that their undies would show… and the assistant informed me I could buy “underwear to match the outfit.” In the same store there were track pants for boys, corduroy trousers and colourful jeans, dare I say: all for boys.


My girls would love to wear pretty dresses like these – but they are nowhere to be found…

Okay, just for a moment, lets head for the tween section – I hate that expression seriously, my daughter is a young lady and tween just doesn’t cover that. And I can tell you that the tween clothes that are deemed appropriate for her to wear by major chain stores won’t be covering much either. My ever practical child looks at the t-shirt which had just one sleeve and a slash across the front. I don’t think warmth is what they had in mind when they made that shirt. So we walked the mall and went from leading brand to leading brand and we soon dropped the illusion that we were looking for clothes to wear… we actually were performing a research assignment – a challenge maybe: To find even one item of clothing that was wearable.


When you ask the staff they tell you this is what kids want to wear… but that isn’t the case. These are not the clothes my daughter wants to wear and neither do her friends. Honestly there is precious little to buy for a girl with any taste… I don’t want my daughters to think they are weird and that there is just nothing for them to wear in the stores. Unfortunately the retailers we visited were sending exactly that message. If you are into sweet feminine clothes, polka dots and stripes, flowers and butterfly prints; And you actually want to wear the clothes, not hang out of them… then good luck with that.


In a world full of eating disorders and girls suffering terrible consequences of unrealistic body images, in a world where soft porn has become boring and hard porn a way of life, in a country where sex-crimes against girls are considered (by some) to be “part of our culture”… I have to say that the retailers do not have my daughters best interests at heart… in fact is it quite the opposite. They know that “sex sells” and when they hang their clothing on racks and suggest that this is what everybody is wearing… including children then really, the only thing that they are suggesting is that they don’t give a hoot about the next generation… the mothers, scientists, librarians, engineers, architects, chefs, homemakers, designers or athletes of tomorrow.


It is a typical case of actions speaking louder than words. Young girls are told they can be whoever they want to be, they are told they are full of potential… but the reality is they are being sold clothes that are at best impractical and inappropriate and at worst demeaning. I am not looking for out of this world clothing… But it appears that our hunt for affordable, realistic clothing that my girls would be proud to wear was yet again a bit of a disaster.

52 Replies to “The Myth Being Sold To Our Daughters, All In The Name Of Fashion…”

  1. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to write this post. One cannot find nice, modest, well-made girl’s clothing in sizes above a 3T it seems. It is not only the message sent to girls that is alarming, but that sent out to society in general. Look at some of the ads for girl’s clothing and the little models look absolutely provocative! In a society that has such a huge problem with child pornography, it seems reckless to tantalize pedophiles with little girls dressed and posed like that…

  2. I’ve given up looking. I tend to make as many of their clothes as possible and then spend a bit more on the pieces that are more difficult to make, like jeans and coats. It is difficult. I don’t want to advertise or buy uncomfortable clothes, nor make them feel unusual.

    Nadja, above, talks about the models. I was shocked when I received last year’s school photos. Instead of the classic pose, they had them looking like a clothes shop advert. Apparently that’s OK!

    So what are you going to do?

  3. I don’t know if they ship internationally, or how horrendously high the shipping would be, but I have been able to find quality, modest, feminine clothing for my daughter (13) at We have had ALL the same problems you have described. It is utterly insane that smart mothers would buy these things for their precious girls. Thank you for standing for virtue!

  4. Hi Nadja, Thanks for the comment – it is very true… Just the wrong message sent in every direction. It just doesn’t make any sense at all… kids and parents don’t want to buy it and surely they are the market – who is buying the stuff!!! It has to be more worth their while to make nice looking clothes!!! Anyway, thanks again and have a great week!!!

  5. Ha Cheryl… I knew someone would ask for my solution!!! I am working on it!!!I was actually at a photography workshop were the photographer was talking about family shoots and how parents were asking for more trendy and provocative poses for their children… putting children in adult poses apparently makes for interesting photographs to hang up above the mantle piece… What is the world coming too!!! It is just insane!!! Meanwhile I think you may have the answer and I will be teaching my kids to sew, funky clothes – the last thing they need is to make clothes that make them like they live in a cave!!! My daughters just want to design their own range – how fun would that be… the Se7en_hoods clothing company!!! All the best – hope you are getting some spring shine at last!!!

  6. Thanks for the tip Christina… Honestly I hadn’t thought of shopping internationally, but it may have come to that… even plain t-shirts and leggings are hard to find!!! So I am going to follow up your lead!!! Have a great week!!!

  7. I was going to suggest Land’s End as well. Other options might be Hanna Andersson and L.L. Bean.

  8. It really is shocking to me, and terribly sad – it’s a global problem that from a young age, girls are given the message that they’re sex objects, not people. (And sadly, the rise in human trafficking shows how endemic that message is.) The clothes in shops here in the US are just as bad as the ones in SA and it makes me sick to walk by them! It wasn’t like that when I was a kid. I hope & pray that if enough of us protest, and work for a better, healthier attitude towards girls and women, something might start to change.

    I agree with the other ladies that Lands’ End and L.L. Bean are good online options – my mom bought clothes from them for me as a child and I still purchase clothes there as an adult (because honestly, women’s clothing isn’t that much better these days!). I love the idea of a Se7en hoods’ clothing line too. 🙂

    P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to hood 3, one of my favourite people and a very beautiful and special young lady!!!

  9. A few years back I could always find pretty cotton dresses in lovely styles and designs in the clothing store of a major grocery chain, these days it’s all cartoon prints and faux lace. When I asked why their stock had changed so much the response was that was what the customers wanted. Not this customer!

  10. Hay Laura, Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment… and the birthday wishes!!! You are just so kind to remember!!! Hope you have a fabulous week, with love from all of us on the far side of the world!!!

  11. Hay Molly, Good to hear from you again!!! And Exactly, what is that – why oh why would my kids want to wear clothes smothered in cartoon characters that they haven’t even discovered… not to mention masked wrestlers on all the little guy t-shirts. Just who is deciding what our kids are wearing… it certainly isn’t us!!! Meanwhile, hope you have a great week!!!

  12. Well said! I often look longingly at the girls’ section with the 5T and smaller clothing. We like Lands End, but they can be pricey. Looks like learning to sew is a terrific option!

  13. I don’t know if you have craft stores there but we buy Jerzees craft t-shirts for my daughter. They are thick and have some actual sleeves. Then she designs iron-ons and there you have it.

  14. This is precisely why I learned to sew when my kids were born. I didn’t want the messages, I didn’t want everything to be pink, and I wanted it to be durable. Sewing at home isn’t the cheapest way to get clothes for me (which says something about my penchant for fabric, but also the crazy market where t-shirts don’t cost much more than a cup of coffee). What I do with my eldest sometimes is go to camping / outdoor pursuits shops. At least here in the UK, the larger ones tend to have a kids section, and then I can get non flimsy t-shirts, trousers great for climbing in, not to mention shoes which aren’t all sparkly and with mini heels. And, we also look at boys clothes – as you said, you saw some brightly coloured boys trousers – well that’s the sort of thing we might end up buying. Not sure how much longer that will last as she gets older, but for socks and plain items, especially if I’m buying them without her present, that’s one of our strategies.

  15. Spot on! This is exactly my despair with girls’ clothing – every point you made. I long ago gave up buying from the girls’ department for my eldest daughter who can’t stand pink. She’s totally happy in boys’ clothing and so that is what I buy for her. And it’s stuff that lasts and looks good and often is cheaper too! My younger daughter still loves pinks and purples, but even then we have difficulty finding appropriate, long-lasting clothes. Thank GOODNESS for hand-me-downs from other families who have managed to find decent clothing.

    But, it shouldn’t be near impossible to find basic, sturdy, multi-coloured clothing for girls. Surely there is something that can be done about it? I wish a leading newspaper would pick up your post here and that you could start a revolution here in South Africa! Appeal to Woolies or some other leading store to get with the programme! Come on se7en, you’ve got clout here in SA … imagine what you could do for all girls in South Africa! 🙂

  16. Hay Krista… Thanks for stopping by, I know my daughters looks at the little gal clothes and think why oh why do the toddlers get butterflies!!! Anyway time to rethink our clothing completely!!! Have a good day!!!

  17. Linda, that is a great idea…I haven’t actually looked at craft stores around here. I often do let my kids tie-dye or design stamps for their t-shirts… I buy the plain t-shirts in the school sports section for them to create on. Personalising clothes is such fun!!!

  18. Hay Zoe, That is a brilliant comment… I think we have similar shopping strategies – but you will find as they get older boys clothes just don’t fit!!! Our sports stores are starting to have kids clothing sections and the clothes are great but very pricey compared to the main brands. I just wish they would spend as much money putting polka dots and flowers on clothes as they did on lurid cartoon characters… it just makes sense!!! I think sewing school is definitely the way to go for us, the thought is somewhat terrifying for me, but it has come to that!!! Hope you all have a good week!!!

  19. Oh Taryn!!! You are so funny – I wish I had that clout… it appears to be a universal problem with moms from all over the world joining the comments!!! With so many people unhappy with what is on the market you would think that leading retailers would respond… if just one did and gave their buyers the clothes they were after can you imagine how that would turn the market around. Surely all these leading retailers have children, one wonders what they are dressing their kids in… because they sure aren’t buying the clothes in their stores… or maybe they are!!! Anyway thanks for your great comment again!!! Have a great week!!!

  20. wow!!! well said.
    Can I share on our facebook page? For discussion?
    I’m sure people from Woolworths and Truworths are readign it there. It may just make a change….
    I hope you have found something to wear in the end?

  21. Hay Irene, Glad you liked the comment, of course you can share it on facebook… the more discussion the better. It is a topic so many folks feel really strongly about, I just don’t know why nothing ever seems to change!!! Hope you have a fabulous week!!!

  22. Brilliant post! I am so tired of clothes that seem to bare all, are provocative or just inappropriate. I have a girly girl who loves pink, glitter and beades – but she also loves to rough it with her brothers. I agree about making clothes, we often buy and then modify. we had frills, lace, length, sew on butterflies. I am not gifted in sewing so it’s the way I make it work.

  23. Oh, don’t get me started on this! I have two older boys and now a onderfull little 17 month old girl. I can not believe what all retailers are selling girls: you can be anything or anyone, as long as you wear pink, and live like a princess. Even Lego (favourite toys!) are now sporting the princess/high living thing for girls (ALLLL PINK). It’s just not a lifestyle I want to teach my girl! Ironing boards, hair dryers, stoves, microwaves, cell phones, jacuzzi’s, mansion doll houses (all of course in pink). It seems to me, very little open ended toys. And then there is the sea of pink in the clothes department. The other day I went to buy a pair of shoes for my little girl. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. was pink. I went and bought a pair of neutral shoes at the boys department. Crazy. I want her to be independant, thinking, authentic, modest, caring, frugal (light carbon footprint) and I try to model that… honestly, “those people out there” that decides what they should wear and play with, is not in it so much! Great post and happy birthday to your girl..

  24. What a great post, I AGREE!! I have the same problem, especially because my 7 year old is nearly as tall as your Hood no 3 and wears 9 – 10. I have tried to do some sewing for her for this Winter, but even if you make the time it’s hard to find nice fabric! In an enormous fabric store I could not find nice prints or even many nice colours in anything other than summery thin cotton or pyjama flannel. Printed and pretty knit fabric is very hard to find in SA and that’s what’s comfy for kids. Besides sewing, I have found that Woolies generally has cords and track pants for girls and some decent jerseys but they are expensive! I often find a gem at Pick ‘n Pay clothing – their leggings and jackets are ok this year and not too pricey. As for shoes – there’s a Green Cross factory shop in Epping which is great for boys and girls.

  25. Hay Mel, That is a very good idea to pop your own bits and pieces on to embellish the clothes to make them more fun!!! I love the ingenuity of my readers!!! Hope you are having a good week!!!

  26. Some big stores here in Germany sell clothing like that too. But we have some nice stores an online-shops that sell appropriate clothes for girls. One of our favourites is Jako-o. They have a Website in English ( and I think they ship internationally. Their basic line is the same for boys and girls in a lot of different, bright colours. Everything can be mixed and matched. The clothing isn’t cheap but very well made an can be passed on easily to younger siblings. And they give discounts to big families ;).

  27. Oh Anel… Welcome to the world of girls. I must say I thought boys marketing was bad until I had girls and now I just look for plain clothes in the boys department but for girls that is nearly impossible!!! And no we cannot talk about shoes because why on earth would my girls not want to run around in normal sneakers without “Barbie” or pretty pink jewels all over them… honestly they want to mess around in the mud – but don’t want to mess up their princess shoes. I have actually given up on shoes!!! Anyway I think perhaps instead of passively not shopping for stuff we don’t like a lot more of us should stand up and say what we do like!!! Wishing you all the best in your hunting!!! Have a good day!!!

  28. Ah Kate, I feel your pain!!! Well done on all your research!!! I am defintiley going to try the Green Cross factory shop for shoes!!! It is time to find shoes again!!! And I am with you on the sewing thing… I am not a natural seamstress and there is no place for me to set up a sewing spot… I think I would better spend our clothing budget on sewing lessons as I have no idea how to sew stretchy fabrics… it is time to learn. Hope you are having a great week!!!

  29. Wow Peggy, That is fabulous I am definitely going to look into them… Why I have never thought of shopping overseas before I just don’t know!!!

  30. I am starting to feel the pain of finding appropriate clothes for my bratling. Up until now, Granny made pretty dresses for Sundays and I could get easy wear clothes that wasn’t too bad. But she now wears size 5-6, and there is very little out there that is not provocative or ridiculous. The little bit I did find, where pay- through-your-nose expensive. Will have to start sewing. Not that it is any better for boys age 9 and up. No more comfy run around tracksuit and corduroys for them! No, all stiff denims or silly double layer cargo pants. Not as bad as the girls, but way to stiff for a afternoon on the trampoline. Unless you buy school tracksuits, which leaves you with blue or black to chose from…

  31. I read your post yesterday – and did the laundry last nite and looked at my daughter’s clothes. The ones she just picked out from the thrift shop (that we intend to “up cycle” to fit her are modest and can be made trendy with some notions). The ones a friend of mine handed down (that she kept) are exactly as you described – thin and not worth the effort it took to make them, though to her credit, she picked out the nice ones- they are not “trashy” like some are wearing. If you want to take a look at my pinterest board “sewing” I have pinned quite a few “quick and easy, beginner” patterns (some that don’t require a “pattern” from the store that you can fashion from scrap paper. One – the maxi skirt – I made for myself in less than an hour (cut to finished) – and if you can find a man’s tshirt in a color (or color your own – more fun) you can cut the time more. And it is so comfy and stylish. There is also a pair of yoga pants that can be made to shorts or skorts, easy enough for beginners by adjusting the length of the leg. I follow you so hopefully you can find me. If not send me a message to my email and I send you the info. One last – LLBean also has great – durable- clothes for kids – worth the price (check their clearance stuff). Thanks for the post – it was spot on!

  32. Relevant article!! Good to highlight this issue so that other moms realise that they are not alone in this battle! It also offers a mom great “teaching lessons” re not conforming to the world as Christian girls, when everywhere we look the world is trying really hard to “squeeze us into its mould” Keep up the good work – and keep working on alternatives!!

  33. After having a boy for nearly 3 1/2 years I thought I would love to dress a little girl and I did enjoy the baby stage but now she’s coming up on 3 I’m starting to notice how flimsy a lot of the stuff available is. She’s not overly keen on dresses and really likes proper pants with pockets. I tend to often dress her in clothes from the boys section or hand me downs from her brother. She loves dinosaurs and trucks atm so it’s no hardship and I’m not going to restrict her to the girls section 🙂

  34. Hi Amy, I have to say all my kids mixed and matched when they were little… I bought neutral clothes and if it fitted they wore it… as they get older kids can get quite discerning!!! So we are headed for an interesting clothing journey that’s for sure!!!

  35. UGH! I feel your pain. I’ve had a horrible time finding shorts in a decent length to fit my little girl. Dresses and skirts too. I got lucky and on a rare trip to the mall (I HATE the mall) found a large selection of sundresses on sale- a week or two before Easter. They were decent length and little girl styled! My husband has gotten several unearned earfuls about the horrible clothes being marketed to girls so he basically has said “If it is modest and priced well, get it.” So I picked up 4 dresses that fortunately aren’t too dressy or frilly.And none of them are pink either- one is navy with yellow and white daisies, one is dark purple with a turquoise pattern and turquoise trim, one lavender gingham and the last is turquoise gingham. Shorts are difficult to find too. I do ask the store clerks where the longer shorts are. Sometimes they have them and sometimes not. I think we are covered for this summer. Next up- swimsuits. Little girl is a redhead with very fair skin, so she wears surf shirts over whatever swim suit she has just to protect that skin.

  36. Hi Se7en!
    I so resonate with this! (If I see one more t-shirt– boys or girls, with tv characters!!)
    But, I thought I would tell you about a lovely friend of mine that faced the same issue and went and did something beautiful with it!
    This is her shop, and her story, have a page through! Xx

  37. when you start your sewing lessons you should do basic pattern making too. You can choose what you want to wear and how it must look (and fit)and your options become endless!It’s a good way to make maths practical too 🙂

  38. Brilliant post… I was wondering, who made those gorgeous dolls? Maybe it is time to whip out the sewing machine and teach all the Hoods a new skill 🙂

  39. Ellen, thanks for the great tip!!! I have a feeling that this is going to be one of those projects that once we start there is an ever growing list of things to learn. We may have to get this going really slowly because I have a feeling that everyone is going to want to know and I am going to have a whole class of sewers all at various stages of ability… Lots to learn!!! Hope you have a great week!!!

  40. Lynne, How fantastic to hear from you!!! sometimes even I have to say… bah!!! My oldest daughter received those dolls years ago as part of a Felicity Wishes magazine collection… and each week a new magazine and a darling outfit arrived… they have been played with and played with and played with!!! And yes I am afraid to say that it may well be time for me to overcome my fear of the sewing machine and get teaching!!! Hope you have the most brilliant week!!!

  41. Thank you for this post! It is well written and expresses the frustration and disgust that I feel trying to find clothing for my 13 year old daughter. It’s all either too tight, too short, too low, pink, our has some garish picture or saying on it!!! I’ve posted this on my Facebook page I hope others share it as well! I’ve been following your blog for years and thoroughly enjoy it! 🙂 Keep posting!

  42. Late to the game here, but another brand we’ve had good finds with, but a bit pricey also, is Hanna Andersson. Rough and tumble girls’ clothes, in multi colors, and the stuff hands down beautifully. I also second the Lands’ End vote. I bought the first kid down winter coats, and at last count they were on their 9th kids. Made it through my 6 plus 3 more. Their stuff wears like iron.

  43. I have 7 girls and I totally know what you mean – and my girls feel the same. My teenage girls wish that the cute little girls dresses were available in their sizes, and one of my girls sometimes turns the front t-shirt on the shop-rack around when she feels that the design is inappropriate 🙂 My oldest dd has just started making some of her own skirts – a skill she doesn’t get from me. At least then she is happy with what she makes. Is a tough one, isn’t it!?

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