I recently saw a young girl in Tesco (about 12-years-old) wearing towering, strappy heels, a pink and black basque-style top, belt-sized skirt and diamanté headband. She was also coated – head to toe – in so much fake tan that she may well have been undetectable by thermal imaging camera (she was a sort of Cuprinol ‘rustic brown’).
Far from being a reluctant and visibly embarrassed clothes horse (perhaps dressed for a party by a shameless or partially sighted mother), she actually packed her shopping bags with a modicum of attitude and a discernable smirk. And her slightly older, fatter sister – wearing a similar diamanté headband, but more in the way of elasticated clothing – was grinning so much, I thought a Speedo-wearing Take That had just entered the store pushing a dessert trolley stacked with cake.
At the time, I was waiting for a self-service till in Tesco at nearly 4pm on a Sunday afternoon, so it was like queuing for the last chopper out of Saigon. Consequently, this pre-pubescent party girl had the biggest audience imaginable. And judging from the incredlous looks around me, I obviously wasn’t alone in thinking that we were witnessing something ever so slightly inappropriate.
There’s probably never a good time to gently tap a parent on the shoulder and politely inform them that their daughter looks like a slut, but everyone was thinking it.
When the young girl, teetering in her ridiculous shoes, finally left the store, even the shop assistant manning the self-service tills said: “She can’t even walk in them bloody heels. That was ridiculous.” (For the record, this shop assistant would probably ignore a spontaneously combusting customer in favour of chatting with her Woodpecker Cider-toting chavvy mates, so I naturally assumed that she knew the young girl and her family. But if she was appalled, then things really were bad! )
I was actually quite astounded by what I’d seen. And I couldn’t help but think that the young girl was heading off to meet her classroom sweetheart at a tweenage party (a 12-year-old boy called Simon, dressed in arseless leather chaps and a PVC waistcoat with nipple clamps).
I really didn’t want to come over all Daily Mail about it, but I was genuinely shocked that (a) the girl’s mother let her out of the house dressed like that, and (b) that those kind of clothes even exist in that age range. What happened to just being a kid? Why the urge to dress like WAGzilla at such a tender age?
When my sister was this girl’s age (back in 1987/88) she was still a kid. In fact, she’d only just stopped playing with Barbie dolls. If my sister had been keen to dress beyond her years with what she knew of fashion at that point, she’d probably have hit the school disco wearing a ruffle neck ball gown with a shimmering tulle overskirt and tiara. (Thanks to the frequent involvement of my Action Men during my sister’s Barbie time, she was also conditioned to believe that all afternoon tea parties had to end in a violent siege, where people were executed mid-scone and their lifeless bodies tossed from the penthouse suite.)
I like to think that the young girl I saw in Tesco was just an anomaly and that girls her age don’t really dress like they’re planning to fall out of a club at 3am with the likes of Danielle Lloyd and Jordan (ending up in an undignified heap on the pavement; a mélange of fake tan, cellulite and garotted vagina).
At least, I hope she was an anomaly.