I took my almost 12-year-old shopping today. Tomorrow is her middle school registration, where she'll get her schedule and her locker, and she'll sit for a picture that will double as an ID photo and school photo. She pointed out that she didn't have anything new to wear, although her T-shirt drawer can barely shut these days because it's so full. But I remember being 12 and wanting something new for the school picture, so we headed to the mall.
I figured she wanted a cute T-shirt, preferably one that advertised Hollister, Aeropostale or Victoria Secret's Pink line, a marketing tool designed to lure 12-year-olds into what used to be a decidedly adult venue. No, she wanted a poofy tank top that she could wear over a white T-shirt, because spaghetti straps aren't allowed in middle school. Nothing like a specific need when you're shopping with a mom who likes sale racks. We scoured Aeropostale, Hollister and Vic's Secret. No luck. On a whim, I said let's check out Delia's, even though I usually gasp at the prices. (I'm talking $26.50 for a T-shirt. Yes, they're often "buy one, get one half off," which translates to roughly $19.88 a T-shirt. When you're used to Kohl's prices, that's pretty steep.) She immediately found a top that worked. I decided to be generous mom and let her try it on. It looked adorable on her.
"OK," I said," "Let's walk down to Justice and get a plain white tee."
"That's OK," she said. "I don't need a T-shirt for the picture. I'll wear it like this. I just have to wear a T-shirt underneath when school starts."
Now, my almost 12-year-old follows a trend that I find a little unsettling. She wears cute little camisoles over her cute little bras, and she lets the bra straps peek through. I admit, as someone who went to great lengths to ensure that a bra strap never even peeked out of a sleeveless dress (ill-fitting strapless bras, anyone?), I had a hard time getting used to this look. I don't know why I'm surprised, when I'm almost always seeing the underwear of any wearer in the under-20 crowd. That's right. I know what color boxers the skater kid is wearing and what color thong the high school girl is sporting. And I've gotten to the point where I'm OK with the under-20 crowd flashing a bra strap, because they tend to wear cute little colorful bras with delicate little straps. I think that if you're going to flash a bra, you should at least have cute little bras to flash. The middle-aged mom, two-inch wide bra straps in white or cream just don't work.
But even though I've learned to live with the peeking bra straps, I really, really, REALLY didn't want to see them in my daughter's school picture. I brought this up in the Delia's fitting room, and she rolled her eyes at me. I used my "I hold the checkbook" veto power and said she had to find a solution that didn't involve sharing her bra straps with her grandmothers and anyone who happens to visit Grandma and look at the grandchild picture display on the wall. She begrudgingly agreed to wear a tank top or a T-shirt for her school picture.
I guess I should consider myself lucky. At least she's not flashing her thong panties, which she doesn't have and won't have until she's old enough to buy her own underwear. Which I wish would stay under there.