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Slut-Shaming North West Isn't OK, No Matter Who Her Parents Are

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Yesterday, Kim Kardashian West posted several videos to Instagram Stories previewing the latest pieces in her kids' clothing line with Kanye West, The Kids Supply. The line boasted custom Yeezy sneakers and denim jackets, along with the collection’s signature spaghetti strap dresses in solid, bold colors and leopard print.

Because strategic branding is Kim's forte, on the day that her collection was released, a photo of Kim and Kanye’s 4-year-old daughter North West surfaced on numerous tabloids, as well as blogger B. Scott's Instagram. North rocked several pieces from the collection, including a black hat, an orange satin dress with a loose-fitting cream corset atop and a pair of customized Yeezys. Her perfectly coiled curls rested underneath the cap, and she looked equal parts trendy and adorable.

The backlash on social media was immediate. While some websites praised North's summertime look, others lobbed criticism at Kardashian West, accusing her of dressing North inappropriately. Some people even called her a "thot" or compared her look to that of a sex worker. Regardless of what you might think about the Kardashian West family, this is not OK, because it's incredibly inappropriate to slut-shame a child or her parents for their clothing choices.

Parents of girls and young women have a difficult task. They must balance teaching their daughters how to love themselves and their own bodies, while simultaneously wanting to shield them from negative male attention. But while we have to be cognizant of the fact that the patriarchy is a real thing and that predators exist, implying that a child is dressed inappropriately simply because she is wearing a sleeveless dress is a reach. We shouldn't be projecting our adult associations with corsets and spaghetti strap dresses onto an innocent child, just as we shouldn't deem bikinis, tankinis, or denim cutoff shorts inappropriate for toddlers, just because they'd look risqué on an adult woman.

Instead of shaming girls and young women for dressing inappropriately, for fear they might attract unwanted male attention, we should instead shift the focus to teaching men about boundaries and teaching young women that they are fully in control of their own bodies and choices.

Maybe tank top dresses don’t fit into some families’ 4-year-old girls’ closets. But it's also worth noting that one family's rules and beliefs might be very different from the rules and beliefs of another. We also have to keep in mind that our opinion of what is and isn't appropriate for a young girl to wear is totally subjective. Too often, these standards are dictated by sexist policies, like problematic school dress codes. Instead of shaming girls and young women for dressing inappropriately, for fear they might attract unwanted male attention, we should instead shift the focus to teaching men about boundaries and teaching young women that they are fully in control of their own bodies and choices.

Courtesy of B. Scott/Instagram
Courtesy of B. Scott/Instagram

As girls get older, they inevitably will have uncomfortable conversations with authority figures about how the clothes they wear can bring unwanted attention. North is probably far too young to be having those conversations, and she's definitely too young to be subjected to such intense scrutiny for her fashion choices. She's the child of two fashion icons. There's nothing wrong with her adorable outfit, and there's nothing wrong with her parents' choice to allow her to wear it. The issue isn't that she's dressed like a "thot," but that grown men and women are projecting their own opinions about gender and fashion onto her. The true fault doesn't lie with Kim and Kanye for putting her in an outfit that might attract unwanted attention. The true fault lies with the people who might give her unwanted attention because of what she is wearing.