From Miley's achy-breaky taste in outfits to Beyonce's skimpy style to the Kardashian'ization of the online world, is our obsession with celebrity and fashion threatening the childhood of our kids?
Dr Jane Pilcher, a sociologist at the University of Leicester, looked into this and found that when parents do their job, the answer is, happily, no. "I would emphasize that we should be looking at what parents buy for their children and the negotiations that take place round that consumption," explains Pilcher, who has studied the influence of fashion on youngsters between the ages of five and twelve years. “For instance, the child might only be allowed to wear a glittery off-the-shoulder top in the safe, monitored environment of the school disco and not anywhere else. Parents might give in and buy something they don’t necessarily approve of but they can place quite heavy restrictions as to where that item of clothing can be worn."
However, regardless of how much (or how little) parents value brands and logos, family culture matters less than who the kids hang out with. "There are a variety of fashion influences on children and you can’t ignore the pressures from their peer groups, especially friends of the same sex, and their ideas of what is cool," says Pilcher. Which trumps even the celebs themselves. "The skimpy clothing of singers Beyoncé and Kylie were not always admired by girls, who thought it was rude to show so much bare skin."
The most interesting part of this study, I thought, was that it highlighted a downside that doesn't usually get discussed when parents and/or school-uniform restrictions prevent children from getting their fashion on. "Children who do not participate in that culture, however, can be isolated from their peers in a form of social exclusion." Which can lead to really bad outcomes, no matter what your age. A study published in 2010 found that people who feel excluded will go to almost any lengths to try to become part of a group, from spending large sums of cash, to eating something dicey, to doing illicit drugs. "The acquisition of brands that are in vogue and therefore cool can give great pleasure and act as a bonding between peers in a group," continues Pilcher. "For young people themselves, it is a matter of image rather than money."
Since remaining solvent and sober is the New Black, why not spruce up your own image by taking a walk with the wild ones while taking it all in stride? Inspired by the fun leopard touches on celebs worth watching (top), here are some fabu leopard ankle-boots to rock with those rolled-up boyfriend skinnies you have yet to take off when you're off the clock.
- Lesley Scott