Teenage fashion, as promoted by the New York Times

High school fashion: A still from the trailer for the rebooted series “Gossip Girl.”

Today, I read an article in the New York Times, where a teenager has a crisis over what to include in her wardrobe. Obviously a person of some privelege, many words and electrons were filled over what to do about this young girl’s fashion crisis.

The above picture was the picture shown with this article entitled “I Want to Invest In My Wardrobe! Help!” by Vanessa Friedman in the Times from May 28, a publicity photo from Gossip Girl, which sets the tone for the kind of “fashion crisis” under discussion. I have never seen the series, but from the photo, the girls – they are supposed to be high school age – seem to dress as if the parents never existed. It doesn’t appear that they do. The girls show lots of bare skin and high heels, as if they were at a singles’ bar and hard-up. The guys dress to impress as well, but both sexes seem to convey the impression that appearance counts for more than character in their families. The caption below the photo read “High School Fashion”. Nope. Not in any high school I ever worked at.

Adolescents are constantly focused on their appearance by nature, and good parents find it a constant battle to get them to develop social skills such as empathy and integrity, since they run counter to the egotism, pettiness and cruelty that adolescents can be capable of if unchecked. Did Ms. Friedman tell the young girl that in addition to clothes making an impression, that you also have to work on your character as well? No. She talked about clothes. Clothes, over the human life cycle. Clothes, as if the young daughter’s budget were limiteless. Clothes, without any regard for the 90 per cent of readers who will find none of the advice actionable at any age, but were seduced into reading it by a photographic depiction of high-class jailbait. Clothes, to remind the rest of us ordinary folk that the barrier to entry of “making an impression” is not for the hoi polloi.