After the controversy of that Vogue photoshoot, we here at FAB got to thinking about the difference in dress sense between kids growing up in Africa, compared to those growing up in the UK…







The controversial Vogue image of a ten year old model


The African View- by Wendy

For many Africans dress and appearance walks hand in hand with pride. In comparison to British kids African kids reserve the right to remain conservative in their dress. There is also a distinguishable difference between clothing and appearance. Brands are not so much important as is the quality of the clothes and how they look on. It’s about creating a sense of pride from the way in which your hair is brushed, to the way in which the collar on your shirt is rigid and sharp right down to the gleam that shines from the heavy slick of polish on your shoes.

African Girl by Martyna Fon

My parents have transferred and instilled these values in our household. My Ugandan father has taught us that appearance and the way you dress is an important part in portraying the person that you are. Both to the people that you interact with on a daily basis at home and in the workplace, and also to the strangers you pass on the street and sit next to on public transport.

For him it’s the finer details that if presented well fit together to create a jigsaw of outfit splendour. That’s why you’ll never find his tie crooked or the laces on his shoes undone or a speck of dust on his blazer.

Dress and appearance the African Way is not purely made up of fickle fashion fads or the latest craze but it is a way of life.

The British View- by Daphne

Growing up as an African kid in Britain I got to experience both worlds. My mum was concerned about me looking presentable but it was more about “what are the other kids wearing?” Dressing for me as young girl was a way for me to express myself.

As soon as I started secondary school, at the age of 11, I was allowed to choose my own clothes and wear what I wanted to wear. And I would say this is about the same for most British kids, parents seem to give them more freedom to wear what they want. Hence why you see so many young girls in those body-con skirts that I don’t even think can be called a skirt, I think belt would be the more appropriate term.

Saying that my mother did teach me to respect my body, and although she was very laid-back about clothing choices she did, as much as fashion trends would allow, make sure I dressed age appropriate.

For British kids, clothing is either about fashion or comfort. What you look good in and what other people think you look good in or what you feel comfortable in. It does not really seem to be about what is “age-appropriate”, I mean that’s the only way I can explain the exact same leather mini-skirt being sold in both women’s and girls’ clothing range in a certain high street store which shall not be named.

Dressing for kids in Britain is more about expression but often the freedom that British kids have means that their precious childhoods are lost prematurely.

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One Response

  1. Sinem

    How totally true Wendy & Daphne, way we Africans dress is more a statement of our way of life, our culture, as a kid, you wear what your elders “tell” or “allow” you to wear.

    It is slightly different in the western world where sometimes it is about whats the latest fashion and you as a young one being given that freedom to dress or wear what one wants. Both have their positives and negatives, I think a mixture of all the good is cool.


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