You know how sometimes you read about something going on in another part of the country, like in the middle, and you think, Wow. America is really screwed up. I’m so glad I don’t live in it. We felt that way today when we read the Wall Street Journal story about kids in like Maine and South Carolina who are bullied in school because they don’t wear the right clothes. No, it’s not even what you think. They’re not talking about the immigrant child who is teased for wearing too-tight, high-waisted pants and having a weird seventies haircut. (Actually, that look is sort of in right now, but we digress.) Rather, the kids the Journal profiles seem to be getting bullied by their peers because they dress too well. Take Aryana McPike, a sixth-grader from Illinois, who has “a closet full of designer clothes from Dolce & Gabbana, Juicy Couture, True Religion and Seven For All Mankind.”
Kids in her class recently instructed her that she was wearing the wrong brands. She should wear Apple Bottoms jeans by the rapper Nelly, they told her, and designer sneakers, such as Air Force 1 by Nike. She came home complaining to her mother that “all the girls want to know if I will ever come to school without being so dressed up.”
Naturally, a small cottage industry has sprung up around the problem of “fashion bullying,” and now there are centers and workshops where adults can “explore why fashion is such an important part of a girl’s identity” so they know how to talk to kids about how to cope with this totally normal part of adolescence. But we don’t need a workshop to tell us what we would say to Aryana, which is this: Honey, when you grow up, you should move to New York.