Like any mother of a burgeoning “tween” girl, I want to give my daughter all the love, support and positive role modeling I can. She’s growing up so fast. I want to teach her to be fearless, to go boldly after her dreams and goals and have confidence in her choices…
Unless her dreams are dumb and her choice is to spend $100 at Justice, because that shit is just crazy.
By some miracle I have mostly managed to shield my almost nine-year-old from the bedazzled mall mecca that is Justice. Until today. Her Christmas cash was burning a hole in her pocket, so initially I was pleased when she asked to go clothes shopping with her own funds. Yes!
Then she blindsided me with, “Can we go to Justice?”
(inwardly) No. No. Nooooooooooooooooo!
(outwardly) “Um, sure…. if that’s what you want… to do with your money.”
Suddenly, even the American Girl store sounded downright delightful. I even mentioned it out of desperation, but she demanded Justice! How did this happen? I’ve been so careful, steering her towards the classics: dresses with cute leggings, twin sets, ballet flats. Everyone knows Justice is the gateway drug to Wet Seal, and I’m not having it. I mean, I like a little tasteful sparkle – what girl doesn’t? But I really didn’t want her dressing like a walking Bratz doll. Clearly, one of her fashion-forward little friends got to her. Those bitches!
What can you do? The tacky heart wants what it wants. It was her money (she reminded me) and besides, I thought, did I want to be a “lame mom” or a “cool mom”?
Ugh. Dammit. Fine. Okay.
Just walking into Justice is an assault on the senses. It feels like I’ve been drop-kicked right into the middle of a Kidz Bop video. I can’t really take it all in at once, for fear of triggering seizures. The music! The neon! The smells! They should offer Xanax-infused calming hoods like the kind you put on animals, but for parents having to endure this place. There’s much to see, and Camille runs off like we’re at the carnival. Only it’s the worst carnival ever – a carnival without funnel cakes.
The first thing I encounter is a stack of glittery graphic tees with sayings like, ‘I’M SO FANCY!’ and ‘TOTES ADORBS!’ There’s also ‘WHEN IN DOUBT, DANCE!’ I think that last one is a Gandhi quote.
Fun fact: Gandi loved hip hop and exclamation points!
I pick up a hideous, neon-fringed tee and grumble something while my daughter looks for her size. Uh oh. This is totally backfiring, so I change tactics; now everything she picks up I say, “SO KEWL!” She immediately rolls her eyes and puts it back. Yes! Success!
We find a few things that aren’t totally terrible. She picks up some wild print leggings, and I feign defeat, even though I secretly think the pair with the doggies screen-printed all over them are kind of #LOL ADORBS.
Oh God, what’s happening to me?
We wander over to the crap cool accessories. This place has everything: Bedazzled makeup kits, 700 types of glittery lip gloss, hair extensions, press-on nails and “comb-in scented hair glitter.” WTF? I don’t know what it is, but I know I hate it. There is also a “smoothing facial masque.” Why does this even exist? Eight-year-olds have crow’s feet now? Everything is scented. Everything. The fucking throw pillows are scented. Justice has its own line of fragrances, with five distinctive scents that all seem to be an intoxicating blend of baby powder and melted Skittles.
My daughter looks longingly at the colorful training bras, perfect for her nonexistent boobs. But hey, I get it; I myself have a lot of yoga pants for my nonexistent yoga. Then she picks up the booty shorts and I want to scream “OH, HELL NAH!” but I remain calm. I don’t show fear. But I do wonder silently WHY IS THERE SO MUCH ANIMAL PRINT? I show her a fuzzy cheetah print diary to divert her attention from some lacy cheetah print bikini panties, because I can’t go for that. No can do. So much cheetah. I’m pretty sure Ariana Grande and Chester Cheetah collaborated on this collection. And why do the sweatpants and shorts have words on the butt? To call attention to an eight-year-old’s ass? Really, Justice? She thinks it’s cute. I want to remind her that just a few years ago, she did have words across her butt — yeah, those words said PULL UPS. We compromise and I let her get one pair of ridiculously short boxers TO SLEEP IN.
As her pile gets bigger (and tackier), I remind her that we’re getting dangerously close to the $100 mark. She’s only slightly better at math than I, so this seems to slow her down. She does choose one thing I actually like – a backpack, albeit a silver, blingy one, but a backpack nonetheless. Hey, it holds books! Books will keep her off the pole! Right? Done.
We make our way to the register and the salesgirl smacks her cheetah print bubblegum and asks for my coupons or “J-Bucks.” I have no idea what this is, but she graciously pulls a discount code off my phone and voilà, the $100 pile of crap becomes a $58 pile of crap. Hooray! Luckily, Camille has wandered off to douse herself in Justice juice and doesn’t know she actually had more money to spend. She doesn’t need to know. I hurry to finish the purchase and get the hell out of there, but not before SUPER HELPFUL SALESGIRL calls after me with a 30% coupon, “for next time you shop!”
Next time?! We shall see. But for today, Justice was served.