What's Age Appropriate For Little Girls To Wear?

18/11/2014 16:32 | Updated 20 May 2015

On any given day, one or both of my daughters - aged four and 22 months - will be wandering around the house dripping in plastic jewellery, nails manicured a rainbow of colours, sporting a princess tattoo on at least one arm (a relic from a birthday party) and clunking around in dress-up heels or my stilettos, which they seem to wear with more frequency than me.

Sometimes, they even escape in public like this (minus the heels).

My older daughter knows the lyrics to Katy Perry songs (Guy Fawkes day was aptly explained with a firework dance to the hit song Firework at school) and has listened to every song on the new Taylor Swift album repeatedly (I'll admit it: I love a bit of Taylor Swift).

She also has the word 'inappropriate' in her vocabulary and uses it in relation to her clothes, after my jaw dropped open when she started 'styling' outfits by pulling her sleeves down until her shoulders were bare. I love the 80s but I don't think my four-year-old should be getting style tips from Flashdance - yet.

Diana hoards frosted pink lipsticks (they come in children's magazines she occasionally gets); knowing they are forbidden loot, she sneaks them into her pocket when she can, covering her mouth and half her face in the 80s-era gunk and then whispering illicitly: "It's magical - it has Frozen powers."

Even Liv - not yet two - has mastered the words lipstick, make-up, heels and tutu.

I feel conflicted about this; on the one hand, I'm a big believer in self-expression and creative play. On the other, I shudder when I see teenagers in crop tops and hot pants and silently (usually) scream at them to "put some clothes on."

Is an obsession with rainbow manicures and cheap frosted lipstick a gateway drug for future disasters (aka are my girls going to be wearing those hot pants that butt cheeks hang out of when they're 12? Or worse: ever think it's OK to post a 'belfie'?) Or - as I'm wishfully thinking - is the fact that I'm concerned about this stuff enough to prevent it from becoming an issue?

They say each generation grows up faster than the last and now that I'm a parent, this feels scarily real. Things I used to laugh at, like the scene in Mean Girls where Regina George's mother proclaims herself to be 'cool' while her tween daughter gyrates in front of music videos on the TV, now hit a little close to home.

I don't know what is entirely appropriate and what isn't anymore: the lines get redrawn a little every day, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Letting my kids be happy with who they are, whether that's draped in jewels, covered in body art, or utterly disinterested in their outfit choices, is the most important thing I can teach them.

It can take a lifetime to learn to be comfortable in your own skin and the more I can encourage that from a young age, the better. Even if not everything is exactly the way I would do it.

So I cheered when D woke up one morning at 6am for the sole purpose of tattooing her Ariel doll's arms (she used most of her sticker collection to give the doll full sleeve tattoos - frankly, she looked way better with the biker makeover than she did when she was just a generic princess).

This is why I paint their nails, and let them wear whatever ridiculous things they want to (especially around the house), because if they can't wear spandex and sequins and tulle on a daily basis now, when will they be able to?

Case in point? My favourite item in the girls' wardrobe: A frilly, petticoat-style tutu from Angel's Face, which comes in a dramatic hat box that has swiftly become a beloved handbag/toy/carrier of coloured pencils and is almost as exciting for the girls as the tutu itself.

The tutu is my little girls' frilly, frou-frou princess fantasy come to life, and to me, it perfectly encapsulates what is age-appropriate for little girls - and not just in the house. The girls will wear it out with trainers and leggings on the weekend, or dressed up with tights and sparkly shoes for parties.

And since we only have one, I like to think it's teaching them that other priceless lesson of childhood (in addition to how to style an outfit with a skirt that's got volume - ha!)): how to share.

Anyway, I believe tutus are appropriate no matter your age: a decade ago I used to prance around university in tutu skirts and spandex...

What do you think?

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