Fashion Bullies and Reverence for Clothes

Vanessa O’Connell at the WSJ has described a disturbing trend:

Teen and adolescent girls have long used fashion as a social weapon. . . . But today, guidance counselors and psychologists say, fashion bullying is reaching a new level of intensity as more designers launch collections targeted at kids.

Dorothy Espelage, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who has studied teenage behavior for 14 years, says she has seen an increase in “bullying related to clothes.” She attributes that to the proliferation of designer brands and the display of labels in ads. In the more than 20 states where she has studied teens, she has been surprised by how kids revere those they perceive to have the best clothes. Having access to designer clothing affords some kids “the opportunity to become popular — and that protects you and gives you social power and leverage over others,” she says. (emphasis added)

As Freud might say, True Religion “must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it.”