When is Your Teenage Daughter Dressed Too Provocatively?

provocativeMy thirteen year old daughter insists on wearing the most provocative outfits you can imagine, and she is not the only one.  She is one of many girls, and I say girls because she dresses like a woman who was looking for male attention from every corner of her universe and yet she has never known what that attention actually means.

Which brings up the question?  Why are we as parents allowing this?  I for one have tried really hard to insist that she not dye her hair yet, wear clothes that reveal every aspect of her growing curvaceous body, but she feels strongly that, “Hey everyone dresses like that.”   The girls in my son’s school would wear fishnet stockings, short skirts and high heels to school.

I went to an all girls boarding school in England and we were forbid any kind of heel, or any kind of revealing outfit, and had absolutely no sparkly or fishnet stockings, skirts had to be below the knee or barely above it.  We actually had our heels measured with a ruler. I now feel like my Grandmother and think: “How times have changed,” as she would say.

I wish I could figure out why it seems that the current fashion is to dress like a prostitute on the corner of 42nd Street, (not that there are any of them anymore), it boggles the mind, and yet every parent seems to be totally lenient about it.

The other day my daughter came down in a tight clinging dress that was just below her butt quite literally and I finally said this to her.

“You do realize that we live in a neighborhood where unlike in Los Angeles, the men will remark on your outfit in a rather lascivious way, they will be between the ages of 30 and 60 and will have no shame about remarking on your body.  Do you really want someone that age leering at you?”  She went right upstairs and changed into something that hid her top half but she still had pretty short cut off jeans on the bottom.  It had some sort of impact I imagine.  However it doesn’t change the fundamental reality that young teen girls dress like they belong on the street hookering rather than being teenage girls running around outside, or playing sports or doing something girly rather than trashy.

My husband often points out that I wear very provocative outfits, and if some of you readers know me, yes you will know that to be true, but that didn’t start until I was in my early twenties and I never wore clothes that resembled what hookers are known to wear.  I also was old enough to know what I was actually doing and knew that I was responsible for the outcome.

We as parents are meant to help and guide our children until they are at least 18 but since all parents are letting this happen, how do you actually stop the situation?

Some people are going to get angry at me for this I imagine, but I really think we have missed something here.

And as this country tries to go backwards and take away abortion rights, and women fall further away from their feministic routes, it can seem quite terrifying to speculate how far we came and now how far we may have to go back again.

I am trying to be the modern parent but at what cost for women I ask?

  1. Alyson HurlbutAlyson Hurlbut08-05-2013

    Sigh… yes and yes. So difficult to have an effect on children when there are so many influences and social “norms” invading their (and our) emotional and mental space.
    I think you are right that the young teenager does not know what she is presenting to the world, and she certainly is not thinking about the context in which she will be viewed – and subsequently treated. I applaud your directness in giving your teen a glimpse of the context in which she is living and the consequences of showing up in a sexualized way. This does not mean those 30-60 year old men are off the hook. This does not mean that I am blaming the young girl for the way men are likely to treat her when she’s wearing revealing, form-fitting clothes.
    I think it is our job as parents – or in my case, as an aunt – to educate and inform our teens, both girls and boys – of the context in which they’re living and how they might be seen and treated within that context – and how they show up and interact- matters. The ability to be aware of how you are showing up in the world, and the ramifications of how you show up – in dress, attitude, mood, etc. is a valuable skill. It leads to informed choice, self-respect, and self-accountability. And it is something we all learn to do, it doesn’t just come to you one day, out of the blue.
    And if we don’t let them in on what we see happening with them, and what our own experiences have been, how else will they learn? Yes, through experience… but should they have to go through every kind of experience in order to learn to avoid certain ones? Hopefully, no.
    I also appreciate your making a difference between “girly” and “trashy.” It seems the concept and practice of what it means to be female has gotten very mixed up with what it means to be sexual & sexualized.

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