Not a girl, not yet a woman, however, this 10-year-old already understands how clothing can shape identity
“Nowadays, 10-year-olds aren’t into Barbie and pink stuff anymore. We’re more into a modern style, ” says 10-year-old Mekayla Veary. No longer obsessed with the colour pink, or the Disney Channel and it’s cartoon characters and child stars (save for Selena Gomez, who she still loves ever since Wizards of Waverly Place), Mekayla says her fashion choices are dependant on the day and her mood. Some days she loves wearing her distressed denim dungarees worn with her platform Vans sneakers, but on other days you’ll find her in dresses.
While younger people have the luxury of time to dream really big and explore what they want using the years that they have ahead of them, you’ll find that nowadays most have a pretty strong idea of who they are and what they want, especially when it comes to fashion.
Women's fashion is a tricky space, and for young girls fashion is even trickier when the kids section in many department stores usually goes two ways: shrink it and pink it; or the hottest fashion trends shared by mommy and daughter, without any real consideration to whether certain items are age appropriate or not.
A consideration that’s desperately needed when there’s so much pressure on young girls to look and act a certain way, one that often expects them to act much older than they actually are, is allowing them to be whoever they want to be.
“It’s basically a competition with the whole entire world. You feel like you have to please everyone,” Mekayla says of the pressure to wear brands because other kids are wearing them, especially on civvies day. Fortunately there are offers and sales that allow smart-shoppers to buy big-name brands at a fraction of the price. Then there's also the choice to opt out completely and to focus instead on yourself and who you are, without needing a brand to align to.
It’s refreshing to see girls like Mekayla embracing and enjoying their youth, not trying to be in a rush to be older than they are. Mekayla loves being a 10-year-old, and for her school is cool. “Exams are coming up, which I’m pretty excited about.”
When asked why she finds school cool she says with a confidence and wisdom that you wouldn’t expect from a tween. “It depends if you’re focussed in class or not. If you’re not then don’t expect it to be smooth sailing. You either learn the nice way, or the hard way.”
We tend to be quite dismissive when it comes to thoughts and opinions of children, simply because they’re young and lacking in life experience – what on earth could they possibly know about anything? But there’s a lot to be learnt from young people like Mekayla. Her generation knows what they want and while they might sometimes be too shy to say it out loud, or lack the confidence or vocabulary to communicate it the way they want to, best believe they know what they want.
Mekayla wants to be a paediatrician when she’s older because she’s passionate about children and wants to make a difference in the world. This confidence and determination gives the impression that she’ll have little to no trouble making her dreams of becoming a pediatrician a reality.
It’s as tweens that children develop a true sense of self, one that will grow and mature as they go through the many stages of life. Mekayla’s career aspirations may change with age and maybe her style might be influenced by passing trends, but she already has a strong definition of style that goes beyond clothes, and says, “Personality adds to your style. It’s not just about the clothes If you’re going to have a dull personality your clothes are going to be boring, too, no matter what you’re wearing. It’s about who you are as a person.”
Like most young girls Mekayla draws inspiration from her mom, who she describes as her style icon because of how she dresses for no one but herself. “My mom is confident and she likes to jazz things up.”