Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Guest blogger: Skanktastic New Fall Looks for Tweens

August 9, 2010

By stark. raving. mad. mommy.

stark. raving. mad. mommy. is a stay-at-home mom to four children ages four to nine. In her own words “…we’re dealing with allergies, asthma, anxiety, and that particular brand of Lego obsession known as autism. Eventually, we found that procreating and sustaining life while mainlining coffee was just not enough of a challenge. So, we up and moved our family of six from the East Coast to deep in the heart of Texas (clap-clap-clap). I have become, officially, a stark. raving. mad. mommy.”

I was recently alerted to the new Candie’s line of juniors’ clothing being sold at Kohl’s. Aimed at tweens and teens, it’s designed by Queen of Wholesome, Britney Spears.  Britney’s perfume line has been out for years; her latest one is called “Circus Fantasy.”

I’m not sure who told Britney that circuses smell good.  If I remember correctly, circuses smell like a heady mixture of sweat, stale popcorn, and elephant.  I have a funny feeling that’s actually what Britney Spears smells like, naturally.

Back to her skanktastic clothing line.  First, let me say this: if you’re of age to vote, and you dig her clothes, by all means, skank it out.  You go for yours, girlfriend.  But if you’re my nine year old daughter, you’re not going to be sporting anything to do with a grown woman who poses in her underwear with a large hot-pink teddy bear.  (The implications of this are positively mind bending.  It requires a time-space continuum leap for me to grasp that Britney, who used her teen sexuality to the hilt, is now infantilizing herself in order to sell clothes to my daughters. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.)

Even worse than Britney Spears’ skankfest at Kohl’s is the horror that is Victoria’s Secret’s Pink, a line of loungewear, intimates, and beauty products.  Pink is supposed to be all in caps: PINK, but I won’t give it that much importance.  Ostensibly aimed at high school and college students (it’s campus-ready!), the heavy use of glitter tells me that the true market is junior high.  Buzz is that Pink’s extra-small runs extra-small, making it the perfect place for a junior high girl to pick up her first thong. Again with the vomit. Also, we will not be wearing pants with “LOVE PINK” stamped on the butt.  We will be clad in sensible underwear.  And the seats of our pants will have, you know, pockets or something.

Speaking of people who need to buy sensible underpants, I’m back to Britney.  Besides no longer being a teen sensation, Britney’s a little late on the whole teens-designing-for-teens thing.  Selena Gomez, Avril Lavigne, Miley Cyrus, Keke Palmer and Lourdes Leon (Madonna’s daughter) all have their own lines of clothing.

In a completely unscientific study, my twin nine-year-old girls (Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac) and I reviewed several of the clothing lines marketed toward tweens and young teens. We looked at the clothing lines of Selena, Avril, Miley, Lourdes, and Britney; we also looked at clothing from Old Navy, Gap, and Justice (which used to be called Limited Too).

Here is what I learned from my fashion experts:

  • Tights under jeans are weird. And they make going to the bathroom more complicated than it needs to be.
  • Skorts are better than skirts in case you want to do cartwheels. Because no one should see your underpants.
  • Yellow is a bad color for pants.  Justice, we’re looking at you.
  • Avril Lavigne’s distressed skinny white jeans would make you look like a rock star.  For about 15 minutes.  And then you would probably spill your Capri Sun on them.
  • Britney’s bejeweled tops would make you look like Queen Amidala from Star Wars … only older and fancier.
  • When you stand around in your underwear with a big pink bear on your head, you look stupid.  Like, maybe your head is really warm, but the rest of you would get cold.
  • Miley Cyrus likes really tight pants and that just doesn’t look comfortable.
  • Old Navy has an awesome selection of Wonder Woman t-shirts.

The opinions ended there because then they started singing “we’re tweens, we’re tweens,” and then collapsed into a ridiculous giggle fit.

Here’s the Mom Report:

  • I am thrilled to pieces that my daughters feel that no one should see their underwear.
  • Keke Palmer deserves props for designing clothes that look cute, comfortable, and don’t give me the heebie-jeebies.
  • My kids might not like the tights-under-shorts look, but I like that Selena Gomez’ models are covered up.
  • Tight pants seem to make people pose with an awkward in-toeing that would make actual walking impossible and/or necessitate physical therapy.
  • Britney Spears is a stark. raving. mad. mommy. But not in the fun way that I am.  She’s got a whole “crazy eyes” thing going on.

The most important thing I learned from this project is that I am lucky enough that my “tweens” are really still little girls. I know some day they’ll want to wear clothes that I’ll find appalling (yes, I remember what I wore in 1989). Fortunately we’re not there yet, and I’m savoring every minute of this time.

Here’s the part I don’t get: Most tweens and young teens don’t have jobs and therefore don’t have tons of their own spending money.  I know they don’t drive themselves to Kohl’s. So who is buying girls this stuff?


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Podcast: The Immortality of Influence—Helping kids reach their full potential

August 8, 2010

The Immortality of Influence

"The Immortality of Influence: We Can Build the Best Minds of the Next Generation" by Salome Thomas-El

With the new school year just weeks away, I wanted to interview a superstar educator. Someone who could inspire every adult who lives or works with kids. And we all need inspiration and motivation from time to time, right? Because kids, especially tweens and teens, aren’t always easy to hang in there with. To find the right guest, I went to my local Inspiration and Resource Department (aka Twitter) and I found the man for the job — Salome Thomas-El. He goes by the name of Principal El and for 20 years he’s walked the walk by influencing his students and helping them reach their full potential. Know how he does it? By encouraging kids, non-stop. As Principal El puts it, “I keep letting them know that I believe in them until they’re ready to believe in themselves.”

Principal EL is a regular contributor on “The Dr. Oz Show.” He’s also the author of two best-selling books, I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City, about his teaching experience in Philadelphia, and his new book, The Immortality of Influence: We Can build the Best Minds of the Next Generation, which stresses the importance of mentoring, parenting and service to others.

Principal El has a life-long commitment to answering this basic question, “How do we ensure that every child achieves his or her greatest potential?” This question lies at the heart of the current national dialogue on education policy, the day in-and-day out work of school personnel, and the hopes of every parent.

As a parent, you are your child’s #1 Influencer. If you’re ready to have your batteries recharged for all the challenges the new school year will bring, then let’s talk about how to best use the tremendous influence you have with your children. Listen to my interview with Principal El right here:

If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to this podcast in the iTunes Store.

Or, you can download an MP3 version here.

Upcoming guests include:

Dr. Elizabeth J. Meyer, author of  Gender, Bullying and Harassment: Strategies to End Sexism and Homophobia in Schools

Dr. Leah Klungness and Rachel Sarah co-founders of SingleMommyhood.com. Dr. Leah is the co-author of The Complete Single Mother. Rachel is the author of Single Mom Seeking: Playdates, Blind dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World.

David McQueen, international speaker empowering adults and youth alike on subjects such as leadership, careers and communication skills.

Dr. Karyn Purvis, co-author (with Dr. David Cross, Wendy Lyons Sunshine) of The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive family

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