Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why do we let girls dress like that?

A friend forwarded an article from the Wall Street Journal titled Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That?

Good question.

Around here, we don't. We have many conversations, starting when they're young, as we walk down the street.

Me:   Huh. What do you think that girl wants you to notice first about her?
Kid:   Her butt [or legs or chest].
Me:   Why would she want that? (conversation ensues, ending with...) So what do you want people to notice about you first?

I can't guarantee that it works, but it does open the door to talking about the fact that what you wear sends a message.


  1. I'm bothered by the use of "we," as if it's not the author's responsibility, but somehow that of the entire community -- yet it's individual members of the community that have to find a way to set limits on their kids.

  2. I think she includes herself in the 'we'... else she would have said 'they'. But then I tend to think that even if 'they' do things I think are harmful/wrong/rude, 'we' (meaning at least me!) have an obligation to do something about it.

    What does bother me is that there's not much talk about how men can play a role in stopping this. I know a number of women who stopped to take stock of how they were dressing when their father (or older brother) said, honestly and without condemnation, "Er... don't you think that's a bit... much? It makes you look cheap."

  3. I'm kind of shocked by what I wore in high school. I came from a good home with solid convictions, but my mother and I were both blind to the mini-skirt mania. I seriously don't know how we justified it. Group-Think, I suppose.

    When our daughters were teenagers, we spent lots of time examining motives about attire. And, it really was "we" in those instances. The girls even shared dressing rooms so they could help one another make good choices.

  4. Thanks for the link. And I love your method of dealing with the subject! It's truthful and non-confrontational.

  5. I took lessons from you a long time ago on this topic, Julia, and have had quite a few conversations about apparel with my eldest (14). I shop with her and help her categorize certain items as perfect (which is rare!), borderline and might need a little tweaking or are just plain streetwalker-ish. I think It is harder for kids now than it was in my day since so many people wear the latter but they are not actually streetwalkers, they are just trying to be in style! And, other than those stupid strapless tube tops and halter tops that were popular in my middle and high school years, revealing or trashy clothes were not sold so readily in stores for young women. Now that she attends a school with way more boys than girls, she understands the quip I always make that goes something like "if it's distracting to me, an old straight woman, then you know a young man won't stand a chance!"
    Great article, and the web interview w/ the author embedded in the story is also interesting.