Saturday, January 09, 2010

In Search of Justice

As a mother of girls, I take some effort into procuring clothing that is properly fitting, cute, yet age appropriate and made decently enough that it can withstand the rigours of the roughness and accident-proness of daughter #1 in order to be passed down to daughter #2. I care about my son, too, but you'll soon understand why he does not need to be included in this post.

We are at a transition period with daughter #1, age 8. I learned to pick my battles with her attire early on, giving her a day here and there to make her own choices. Otherwise, we have a few standard rules that she has to obey. Thankfully, she is at a school where the main pieces of clothing are dictated to her. Yes, uniforms. Yet, I recognized over the summer that I needed to at least hear her out when she said, "You just don't know fashion, Mom."

I asked several moms of her friends exactly where does one go when you start aging out of Gymboree-type clothing? Their response: Justice. (and a crowd of tween girls start going wild). They didn't warn me, but I will send up some cautionary flares for you.

On our first trip, my daughter walked in there and thought she had died and gone to heaven. She swooned and pined over the tick-tackiest, heaped on bling-iest, eye-gouging colored clothes in the store, of which there were plenty. Lest I forget to mention to you our discovery of racks and piles of toys, lip gloss, hair accessories stuffed into every corner and every rack of clothing. Of course, it was always "on sale" and further encouraged at the cashier station. Daughter #1 lit up like a Christmas tree at the glory of it all. The music? Of course blaring, sounding like a hyped-up Cyndi Lauper on crystal meth. Just another work-them-into-a-riot marking device.

And if I thought there might be a bargain here, I was quickly corrected. T-shirts: $25.00. A t-shirt that you can see your hand through - a simple t-shirt with a very basic silk-screened design on it.

I'll give the marketing and merchandising leaders credit where credit is due. They have created a den that works even the most shy and meek little girl into a frenzy. You walk into the store, believing that you are there for clothes and you walk about with 2 webkinz, a My Little Pet Shop gift set and some charm bracelet.

I was sorely prepared for this adventure. I was cajoled into purchasing two pieces of the "add-ons"- a lipgloss bracelet contraption and another tube of sparkly gloss. Seriously, I think at that point the neon coloring that adorned just about every item in the store had worked on my mental acuity. I caved. A week later, I found it melting under the back seat of the car, creating a strawberry scented cesspool. The other unfortunate chap stick was taken away by her "obsessed with no make-up on my child" dad within minutes of leaving the store.

Overpriced? Yes. Shopped and worn by every girl from grades 2 - 7? Yes. Much to my chagrin, we have a store credit burning a hole in Daughter #1's pocket. We plan on going this Saturday. Let the pep talks being now, because I will not walk out of that store with anything made of unnatural fibers, metal or plastic.

As my children age, I hear I can look forward to the next step in the "popular shopping chain" . A poorly-lit store that will require me to carry a flashlight to navigate my way to more overpriced, poorly made junk all the while listening to more ear blasting music. I hear I might need to stock up on my claritin because there will be no store "models" to come to my aid lest I have an allergy attack from inhaling the overwhelming aroma of cologne. I believe they are paid to ignore customers.

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