This week's Carnivale was posted at Fashion is a Verb and it is:
"My question to you all is this: What movie do you credit with being responsible for the biggest Fashion Don'ts? In other words- Which movie started off clothing trends that never should have been." (It was later amended it to include music videos and tv shows.)
So I'm going to take the prompting to vent about kids' tv shows. The clothing trends that really bother me on some of these shows is how put together and made up the kids all are to go to high school, or worse, middle school. I feel as though kids of the age of Disney's target audience in particular are very impressionable. In high school I felt enough pressure to wear the right thing, dress "cool" and fit in. It's not always easy- either because you don't want to wake up three hours earlier in the morning to straighten your hair and put on your makeup and pick out your clothes, or you can't afford the clothes that other kids are wearing. Sometimes just keeping up with the trends is difficult, but also trying to look cute and pretty is a lot of pressure. In the real world, kids shouldn't be focusing on looking as (admittedly) cute as Lizzie McGuire does. Or, not to just pick on that show, although it was the first to come to mind, 7th Heaven. I'm kind of astonished by how Ruthie looks when she goes to school on that show. Are little girls really expected to look like that? Surely not. Are the shows advocating that girls spend hours in the morning getting ready? I doubt it. But the viewers themselves may get that impression because they idolize those characters. And networks know it. Their idolization of those tv girls is what rockets people like Hilary Duff, Raven, etc. to celebrity.
It's bad enough that the actors and actresses on many tv shows are years older in real life than the characters they're playing which sets all kinds of twisted examples that I find merely ludicrous. And I'm not going to worry too much about this and sound like an eighty year old prude, but it does sometimes make me roll my eyes that the kids get to wear flipflops or sandals, tank tops or midriff bearing clothes when schools have been cracking down on things like backless shoes and short skirts for a long time, and no one would be able to even get away with it in an actual school. It's not that they are wearing spaghetti straps that bothers me, because I always found dress codes ridiculously stringent, merely the believability factor. But one tv show thing that really, as my friend C. loves to say, "burns my toast" is when girls like Rory on Gilmore Girls, or the cast of Beautiful People are wearing really gorgeous, flattering outfits or skirts or dresses when they're supposed to be broke, struggling with money, or handmaking their outfits. Yeahyeah, I know we can say that Rory gets money from her grandparents now, or Lorelai's got more money what with the Inn and all, but there are many times on many shows where I just have to question where they get the money to afford the lovely pieces. But then we get into the endless suspension of disbelief debate about perfect hair, skin, nails, etc. on tv and how it's impossible and infuriating. And we just have to let it go. And how did the cast of Friends, professors and out of work actors and street musicians and cooks afford all of their Manhattan apartments? No idea. Weak one-line throw-away explanations. We let it go.
I just don't want kids to see trends of really cute over-worked ensembles on tv shows and feel like that's how they should look every day. There's already enough pressure from their own peers. Not to mention movies and magazines about weight and what to wear and how to look--- not that I believe the media maliciously dictates those ideas to the children, but I do know that people derive their own pressure from the resources. And kids shouldn't feel that way. I hope they don't. But I'd love to see the trend abolished anyway and to see TV put a little more effort into making their characters look like you and me, because surviving real life and real high school requires real, relatable role models- in every way, even if it's only appearances.