If you’re a woman, you’ve probably heard of or even worn “boyfriend jeans.” Now, toddlers and even babies are wearing the same style with the same name. This past week Old Navy advertised “boyfriend jeans” for their girls and baby lines of jeans. Parents and psychologists weighed in with varying opinions on whether or not the name of the jeans was really going to have an effect on the young girls wearing them. Now it’s my turn to weigh in and I think there’s an easy solution to this debate: simply change the name of the jeans and stop sending sexualized messages to young girls.

If you’ve never heard of “boyfriend jeans,” they are jeans made for women that have a loose-fitting style similar to those of men’s jeans — as if the woman is literally stealing her boyfriend’s jeans to wear for herself. This is the root of the problem; it’s not the existence of boyfriend jeans for younger girls but rather the message that these jeans are sending to young girls. Many argue that the children don’t know what the style is called. However, I believe the message will be internalized by young girls.

Tyrra Demeritt / Equinox Staff

Tyrra Demeritt / Equinox Staff

One New York City based psychologist states that, “the term ‘boyfriend’ should not even be on kids’ radar at the toddler and under-12 age range,” as stated on ABC News. Realistically, girls should not be thinking about boyfriends nor should they be thinking about wearing a boyfriend’s jeans, as stated in AOL News.

Unfortunately, Dr. Jennifer Hartstein said, our society is sexualizing girls younger and younger with each new mature trend marketed to young girls such as writing words on the butt of pants, basing styles of off women’s fashion and dressing girls in skimpy clothing. Just add the newest trend of boyfriend jeans to the list.

Leslie Venokur, co-found of Big City Moms (a New York City-based resource for moms) and a former worker in the children’s fashion industry, argued that parents were being too dramatic. Members of the fashion industry like Venokur claim that the name of the jeans is simply “just being true to the style” or using “standard industry lingo.” Other companies, however, have no problem changing the name of their boyfriend-style jeans. According to Daily News, children’s clothing stores OshKosh B’gosh and Gymboree don’t offer the boyfriend style jeans and companies like Abercrombie only sell the style to older girls. According to AOL News, H&M and Gap, which actually owns Old Navy, call the jeans by other names. H&M calls them “loose fit jeans” while Gap calls them “boy jeans.”

An Old Navy spokesperson told AOL News that the product name is “intended to describe only the fit, cut, and style” and the company has no intention of changing the name of the jeans, despite the negative reactions from parents and psychologists across the nation. Old Navy continued to state that it offers “current American fashion in essentials for the whole family in trends that everyone can participate in.”

Parents may think that their children won’t be affected by Old Navy’s youth line for “boyfriend jeans” just because the children don’t wear the jeans or don’t know the name of the jeans they wear have the word “boyfriend” in them. However, I believe just the advertisements for children’s “boyfriend jeans” alone would send a message to young girls.

Joe Taravella, PhD and supervisor of pediatric psychology at Rusk Rehabilitation at New York University’s Langore Medical Center, stated that boyfriend jeans for young girls will set children up to not only want a boyfriend but also need a boyfriend.

Not to mention, it is just another part of our society that assumes our children are heterosexual, but that’s a whole other issue with boyfriend jeans. It’s unfortunate that young girls are being taught to sexualize themselves.

It feels as if our society is making young girls, and even young boys, grow up faster and faster each year.

With something that has such a simple solution as changing the name of the jeans, it’s unfortunate that the fashion industry in America is using the same lingo with children as they are with grown women.

Taylor Howe can be contacted at thowe@kscequinox.com

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