Mini Fashionista

My eldest is a wee fashionista. She’s only 8.5 years old, but she loves style, fashion, fabrics, textures and everything to do with putting an outfit or a ‘look’ together.

From the age of about 4, she has been vocal about clothes and accessories. Not only does she know what she likes, she knows what suits other people. We could be walking through a department store and she will reach out to a top or a skirt or something and proclaim it ‘perfect’ for some friend of mine or other. She’s never wrong.

When she was 5, we were in Next and she spotted a dress and asked if she could have it. Personally, I thought it would look dreadful on her. I felt that the brown in it was too close to her skin-tone, that the print was so big it would dwarf her (she’s very fine-boned) and that, really, it just wouldn’t do her any favours.  I suggested to her that it wouldn’t suit her.

‘At least let me try it on,’ she reasoned.

I acquiesced. She disappeared into the changing room while I stood vigil outside with her sister. The eldest came out of the changing room and looked amazing. She brought the dress to life – the brown that I thought would look dreadful on her made her skin look more chocolate-y than ever, the big print looked wonderful and emphasised how petite she is. The drape of the dress made the most of her slender frame. She looked amazing. She made the dress look good.

Yesterday, we were going past Monsoon on Grafton Street

and she noticed that there was an advertisement in the window for a ‘Sales Assistant’. Immediately, her interest was arrested. This, as far as she is concerned, is her ideal job.  Working with clothes and helping people dress themselves would send her into paroxysms of happiness. Never mind the staff discount!

‘How old do you have to be to work in Monsoon?’ she asked.

‘Ummmm, 16, I think,’ I told her.

‘But you’re not sure?’

‘I’m pretty sure that you need to be 16 to work a few hours a week.’

‘If I wore heels……’

I smiled before explaining to her that potential employers would require proof of age. She wasn’t convinced. Instead, once we’d completed all our business, she asked if she could go in and ask for the job.

The lady at the counter was very kind. She took my daughter’s enquiry seriously, but told her what I already had – that she’d need to be 16 to apply for a job.

‘Come back when you’re 16 and I’ll have an application form ready for you,’ she told her.

Slightly disappointed, my little one left the shop with me – wishing the next 7.5 years away so she could go back and work.

I was struck by how lucky we are. Unlike so many children in the country of her birth (India), my daughter does not have to go out to work. There is no question of her being sent out to seek paid employment before she’s 16. Even then, there are tight controls and restrictions on what she can do and how many hours she can work – and rightly so.

So many children in so many countries are forced to work – on rubbish dumps, as house boys/girls, in markets, in factories, on farms and even in the sex trade. I am eternally grateful that my children are not among them.

Between now and when she’s old enough to work in a clothes shop, my daughter is going to have to content herself with making the product look good. 🙂

If you would like to help children in India who are victims of child labour, buy The Big Book of Hope: