Aug. 24. Across the land begins an annual event of monumental proportion, stretching back almost to the dawn of time. Schoolgirls are choosing their outfit for the first day of class.

Frankly, it’s ridiculous that some girls spend their last weeks of summer deciding on one outfit.

They should have started earlier. Any girl from Grade 1 to college knows: What you wear the first day of school will determine who you are and how people view you for the entire year to come. Maybe it’s the same for boys. But in my experience, a boy’s idea of a perfect outfit is “whatever I can find on my bedroom floor that doesn’t yet smell.”

Growing up, I always struggled with what to wear that first day. I blame this on Barbie. Forget the unobtainable body image Barbie presents. I wanted her unobtainable ward­robe.

Dressing Barbie convinced me that the perfect outfit for any occasion was a designer tennis dress, red high heels and a French poodle. My parents insisted that real life wasn’t like this but I didn’t buy it. I knew my future would be spent sashaying to the grocery store or my job as an astronaut wearing a sparkly pink ball gown.

My parents would never let me have a Ken doll. I suspect they worried that I might allow Barbie and Ken to engage in acts of unspeakable intimacy. Instead, I was allowed as many Barbies as I wanted. Given that I turned out gay, I’ve often wondered if they ever regretted this particular parenting choice.

Bottom line though, Barbie’s manufacturers should be held responsible for instilling unrealistic fashion expectations in impressionable young girls. They should be forced to make half of Barbie’s skirts so she can’t get into them any more, shoes with last year’s heels, and sweaters she borrowed from her brother.

In a few weeks I’ll start school again, continuing to train as a United Church minister. Once again, I’ll have to come up with a first day outfit, though, frankly, when you’re both a university student and clergy, no one sets the fashion bar very high.

But for all you other schoolgirls out there, let the mall plundering begin. On with the day-long conferences with friends, the online checking to see what Lindsay and Miley are wearing. And may that first-­day outfit be all you ever dreamed of.

Me? I’ll be satisfied when I’ve shopped for groceries in a pink ball gown.

Latest From ...