Monday, July 23, 2007

A Curious Sight

Today I saw a most curious thing. I wish I had had my camera while I was driving by our local community college.

A group of summer school students were walking across the grounds. It looked like they were heading en masse to the area fast food establishments. A fashionable, energetic looking bunch, all things told.

During my quick drive-by, I noticed an eclectic mix of fashion. There were boys in shorts and tees, jeans and open button-downs, baggy pants and band shirts. There were girls in jeans and tiny-tees or layered shirts. I'm sure you've seen the current trend: painted on, pulled down, lace bottomed, plunging vee with maybe a weeny sweaterish thing buttoned under the pushed up and padded . There was an eccentric or two in the crowd of 20 or so. The girl in the black and white flared, short skirt, striding around on platform knee-high boots, fur around her collar and wrists, large 'fro and huge sun glasses really stood out. There were kids in athletic looking shorts and tops and a yoga pant wearing person as well as at least one pajama pant wearing individual.

So there they were, walking along having a great, friendly time on their journey and one thing struck me. The boys were unencumbered. Hands in pockets or swinging at their sides. Shirt fronts flapping. Carefree. Casual. Cool. Yet - I would bet money on this - every single girl in the crowd was packing a large, cumbersome, over the shoulder handbag. Complete with supporting hand to ensure it stayed put.

What is up with that? What are they carrying around in there? Pets? Overnight clothes? A small Buick? What do they need so badly that the boys don't need? Can lip gloss and a debit card not fit in a pocket? Do boys not carry their stuff with them because the girls in their party are likely to have 3 days of supplies for any possible situation? Do the fashion gurus specifically not put pockets and storage space into ladies' clothing in order to force the necessary showy handbag? Don't answer that.

It was very peculiar. Perhaps I noticed because the kids and I have been talking about fads. About what's worth having and what we can easily do without. About how tv commercials are trying to tell us what we need. About fashion and values and what we are saying with our choices in dress, speech and attitude.

I find the pull of pop culture very strong here. The kids sometimes get concerned about what they should be wearing or how they should be acting. I do my best to turn their concern back to them and find out what they'd really like for themselves and then support them to that end.

For example, when Raiden wanted to bring snorkel goggles to the pool, but was worried that he wouldn't look 'cool'. Or when Kori wanted to cut her hair 'short like a boy'.

One of the big reasons we began to homeschool was so that we could do our best to help the kids be confident, happy-in-their-own-skin, discerning little beings. I want them to choose with confidence the clothes they like, the hobbies they enjoy, the books they are interested in. I hope by exploring things like fads and fashion, like belonging to a group and feeling included, like how to make the best choices for ourselves and not according to what others are doing/wearing/buying that the kids will grow to understand themselves.

~He who knows others is clever; He who knows himself has discernment.~ Lao Tzu

~A scientist's aim in a discussion with his colleagues is not to persuade, but to clarify~ Leo Szilard

1 comment:

jugglingpaynes said...

Fantastic stuff to think about, Bonni.
I've actually found that some of my more social homeschooling friends are more likely to discourage their kids from dressing too differently or discussing certain subjects too openly for fear that they will have trouble fitting in (in more than a homeschooled setting).
~We have met the enemy and he is us.~Pogo

Peace and Laughter