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"Why Do We Let Them Dress That Way?"

post #1 of 103
Thread Starter 

Great article in the Wall Street Journal asks why do we let our girls dress that way?

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703899704576204580623018562.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 

 

I think we all struggle with variations on some of these questions. 

 

 

post #2 of 103

Wait, I'm confused... It sounds like she's saying the reason most mothers let their daughters do all these things is because mom did it and regretted it so she doesn't want it for her daughters... Some one please help, I might just be tired from a long night.

post #3 of 103
Thread Starter 
Lol! Good point. I think she's conflicted. I'll have to go back and read it some time when I'm a bit more focused.
post #4 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post

Wait, I'm confused... It sounds like she's saying the reason most mothers let their daughters do all these things is because mom did it and regretted it so she doesn't want it for her daughters... Some one please help, I might just be tired from a long night.


I think the article said the moms are confused about their own sexuality (or their sexual past) and how to resolve being a woman with being sexual.  She also said women do not want to be hypocrits (perhaps even to themselves).  I am not sure though - the writing is a little murky.

 

I will admit my daughter (12) wears more make-up than I am comfortable with.  She does not usually dress in ways I find inappropriate, but occasionally she pushes the line a bit.  I do not say anything because I think it is her body, her choice.  I also hope it is a phase, lol..

 

post #5 of 103

Dress like ''what'' exactly? That article was creepy and shaming. When can we have girls and women do what they want without being judged about being too ''slutty''.

 

This quote...

 

 

Quote:
But it's easy for parents to slip into denial. We wouldn't dream of dropping our daughters off at college and saying: "Study hard and floss every night, honey—and for heaven's sake, get laid!" But that's essentially what we're saying by allowing them to dress the way they do while they're still living under our own roofs.

 

Is disgusting. Is she saying that dressing in short skirts makes you a promiscuous? I don't buy the stuff about how girls are having more sex now than before either. All generations did the same thing.  One generation may be shocked at their daughter showing off some ankle, another by their daughter wearing pants instead of dresses, and another that their daughters are wearing make-up.  It all comes back to a feeling of ownership over womens bodies and the extremely wrong notion that somehow dress is tied to sexual choices.

post #6 of 103

No,the clothes don't MAKE you promiscuous any more than glasses make you smart. But they DO project a certain image. Let's face it, we are all human. We each have our own point where we draw the line of modesty and acceptable behavior/dress. Of course, our "line" is influenced by not just our genetic personality, but by our background, upbringing, and the culture around us. That is why I can be wearing a long sleeved tee and ankle length skirt but when I breastfeed in public, I get "cover yourself" comments from people clad in tank tops and daisy dukes. Obviously that is skewed thinking. But regardless everyone, unless they are nudists, has a line that they draw regarding what is modest.

 

All the author is saying is that parents who have already experienced wild promiscuous behavior know better than their daughters what image is projected by certain dress. Whether or not you agree that a girl in a miniskirt is a "skank" is a personal opinion. But it doesn't change what people around her think, and how they interact with her based on her appearance. So by allowing and encouraging their daughters to dress a certain way, they are giving their implicit consent to certain behavior. I think that's what she is saying.

 

I'm not a prude, at ALL. But I see her point. You can't control other people's perceptions of you. No matter how professional and intelligent you are, guaranteed if you show up to an interview in your bathing suit, you won't get hired. Likewise, if a guy is looking to get laid, (not a relationship) he is more likely to pick the girl in the 4 inch heels and leather skirt than the one with a pony tail and jeans. That is partly because of media influence perpetuating those stereo types and partly because it's human nature, I think, to go for the most skin and the sexiest attire. That being said, I do know some guys who enjoy the "chase" of trying to get a "good girl."

 

FWIW, my DP will not allow our 10 month old dd to wear a two piece bathing suit and he has expressed fairly conservative values for her regarding her future dress. When I asked him why he said "I'm a man and I know how men are." So I guess that tells you what camp HE is in. And I assure you heis not a prude nor a conservative type person. He just recognizes that no matter how innocent and pure his dd is she WILL be viewed a certain way by men if she dresses a certain way.

 

hopefully any of that makes some sense, I'm tired and trying to interact with my 3 yr old at the same time!

post #7 of 103
My dd is 17 and just now trying out some slightly skimpier clothes. And just had her ears pierced.


As far as the image thing... why advertise sex/sexiness if you aren't interested? There's plenty of great styles out there without being so bare.
post #8 of 103

Two reactions: The first is the observation that the writer is operating from a shame-based paradigm, which I do not share nor would I want to impart to my daughters. She has divided grown women into two groups: those with regrets, and those who stayed chaste until after marriage. She describes a sexually active woman in college as a "campus mattress," for cripes sakes! But don't mistake her, she's compassionate -- those type of women clearly need therapy, not judgment! Wow. It's like in her world women are incapable of sexual enjoyment. Sad.

 

Second reaction concerns the clothing, and actually connects with my first reaction: the problem with young girls dressing this way is not that they're becoming sexual beings, it's that they're learning to become sexual objects. We live in a very visual society, and the girls are being taught to present their bodies in a particular way, not for their own individual expression or their own desires, but to align with the image being presented, the image of "desirability." This is packaged in all sorts of ways, including "girl power." I would have the same issue if the clothing was extremely modest. 

 

I don't know why we enable our girls to do this though; maybe because so many grown women haven't worked through the issues themselves. 

post #9 of 103

I agree w/ Annie Mac's analysis is the problem of girls becoming sexual objects rather than beings.

 

I also dislike these sorts of articles that present one small sub-section of society (upper middle-class girls from a New Jersey suburb and their parents, basically the author's social circle) and its concerns as universal. It's not. Too bad she regrets her sexual history before marriage. I look back on my own history with fondness.

 

When my daughter was about 11 or 12 I shared w/ her my concerns about heavy make-up and short skirts etc. I was pretty up front and explained that they made her look very pretty and also *older* and that they might attract the sort of attention from men and older boys that she would not really be ready to handle.  That seemed to help.  We continue to talk about what ads and billboards and movies try to tell us women about our bodies and how to behave. Maybe of the author spoke to her daughter and other young women honestly about these issues instead of writing Op-Eds for the Wall Street Journal, she would be less angst-ridden.

post #10 of 103

So because ''society'' thinks young women who dress a certain way are sexually active we should just accept it? and bow down it this ridiculous notion? Girls should not be encouraged or enabled to dress it a way they find fun or fashionable because someone might get the wrong idea about them? I find that extremely sad and disconcerting.  Once again people are putting their focus on young girls bodies instead of attacking the insidious notions in this society that somehow all women are responsible for being objectified, just for being.

 

 

Its a depressing thing to say but women will be attacked and judged and blamed no matter what they wear. There is always someone out there that is going to put off their sexist, derogatory behaviour onto the victims of it.  For goodness sake a girl can't put on a party dress and go out dancing without it being manipulated into a sexual thing.

post #11 of 103

Hmm, maybe we should be telling our daughters to "get laid" when they go off to college instead of societies "put out".

 

Just randomly thinking here, so try not to get angry or anything.

 

Obviously we shouldn't be encouraging young women to do things they aren't comfortable with, if your daughter doesn't want to have sex yet then telling her to do so would be a major no-no, but most young women are at some point going to be sexually active before or once they get to post secondary. The problem arises with common western ideology that "girls" who "put out" are dirty, vile, creatures that should be shunned and avoided and made to feel bad. Even when parents try their hardest to instill a sense of self control in their daughters in regards to her sexuality, she is bombarded with everyone else telling her she doesn't really want it, she wouldn't really do it, it is a horny, out of control male and his penis that make her do it. She ends up surrounded by people telling her what to do, what not to do, with very few people telling her to do what she feels is the right thing to do.

 

There is a really screwed up idea about female sexuality out there. Where a woman "puts out" and a man "get's laid", in other words, she gives something up to him and he gets something from her. So, yeah, maybe we should be telling our daughters to "get laid" if they feel like it's what they want. 

post #12 of 103

Also, we should judge people based on who they are and not what they wear (I seem to be saying that a lot lately).

post #13 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post

Hmm, maybe we should be telling our daughters to "get laid" when they go off to college instead of societies "put out".

 

Just randomly thinking here, so try not to get angry or anything.

 

Obviously we shouldn't be encouraging young women to do things they aren't comfortable with, if your daughter doesn't want to have sex yet then telling her to do so would be a major no-no, but most young women are at some point going to be sexually active before or once they get to post secondary. The problem arises with common western ideology that "girls" who "put out" are dirty, vile, creatures that should be shunned and avoided and made to feel bad. Even when parents try their hardest to instill a sense of self control in their daughters in regards to her sexuality, she is bombarded with everyone else telling her she doesn't really want it, she wouldn't really do it, it is a horny, out of control male and his penis that make her do it. She ends up surrounded by people telling her what to do, what not to do, with very few people telling her to do what she feels is the right thing to do.

 

There is a really screwed up idea about female sexuality out there. Where a woman "puts out" and a man "get's laid", in other words, she gives something up to him and he gets something from her. So, yeah, maybe we should be telling our daughters to "get laid" if they feel like it's what they want. 


We should! And you're 100% right about society's attitudes that somehow men "get" something, while women must "give" something. Actually, if you look at it from a technical standpoint, it's very much the opposite. Of course, the problem is bigger than the individual parents, but change starts somewhere, right? 

 

I see quite a disturbing trend in the many images and "role models" (yes, I absolutely mean those quotation marks) our daughters are exposed to from a very young age. It's a repackaging of the same old sexist stuff in feminist wrapping. You know, the women who say they felt "empowered" by the opportunity to pose for Playboy (to be the only naked one in the room and then have your body "corrected" and airbrushed), or that wearing clothes that are popularized by media images and mass-produced in China are "expressions of individuality." I also recall one piece of sexual chicanery from my own misguided youth: the propensity of young women to pretend to be lesbians in order to attract the attention of the males in the room. This was just a strange one & I imagine young women are still doing it, as the media is still projecting strongly the idea that men really like to watch two women kiss each other (etc). It seemed such a blatant example of being something you were not in order to objectify oneself in the eyes of the opposite sex -- because we are taught to objectify ourselves. 

 

And, yes, there are more positive role models out there, but for every Gloria Steinem there are ten Brittany Spears. And the fact that I can't think of a contemporary positive role model also really sucks. 

 

I've got another answer for why we dress our daughters like this: it's because it's what is in the stores. Even for little girls (like early elementary school age), that's what is available. This starts early. There are pageants and Disney princesses and mythology galore that tells them that what really counts is being pretty and bagging the husband. At any cost. 

 

post #14 of 103

The fashion industry is really being let off the hook in this article. Have any of you done any shopping for formal dresses these days? OMG, it's SOOOOOOO hard to find a dress that is at least mid-thigh and has some sort of straps... even spaghetti. My own DD is a pretty conservative dresser and wanted something just a little classier and it really was difficult to track down in our area. She needed a teen size because she's so slender but the options in the teen sections were all pretty skanky to be honest and she hated them. The higher-end boutiques had options in very slender sizes but few can afford them (certainly we couldn't.) Some of DD's friends wore the dresses mentioned in the article but they were very obviously uncomfortable constantly pulling them up to cover their chest more but simultaneously pulling them down to cover their butts. The last dress DD wore to Winter formal was pretty much the only one that she felt comfortable in.... no real choice as to style, print or color. Even shoes.... you can wear flats or you can wear 5 inch heals. There is little inbetween though certainly easier to find than a more modest formal dress. We can complain about what girls wear and analyze why parents let them all we want but lets also recognize that they are given very few options.

 

I feel this article focused on parent's fear of hypocrisy but there are many other reasons they let their child dress in ways they are uncomfortable with. Some parents just feel powerless. They have to work hard to make ends meet. They have little time with their child and they just don't want to spend that time fighting. There are also some that complain about what their child wears but privately, they are happy their child looks like the other girls, is popular and has boys interested in her.

 

 

post #15 of 103

 



 

 There are also some that complain about what their child wears but privately, they are happy their child looks like the other girls, is popular and has boys interested in her.

 

 


I know a lot of people like this. Because of my background I even catch myself worrying and comparing my kids to others. Everyone wants their child t be liked and to fit in.

 

I'm also finding shopping for a girl for the first time that literally from birth on, EVERYTHING is princess princess princess. I mean, I don't have a vendetta against disney, but I have not seen even ONE shirt displaying, say, a race car, or tools, or even sports (other than cheering pom poms)

 

According to my friend it goes straight from disney princess to hannah montana around 2nd grade and then to straight adult styles by middle school.

 

Now what I really don't get is the underwear battle. As long as the important parts are covered, does it matter whether it's a thong, g string, granny panties or whatever. I know people who g berserk about their teen dds wearing "sexy" underwear. The way I see it it's not like anyone can see it, so who cares! And if someone IS seeing it, then the parent's issue  lies with the fact that the dd is sexually active, which has nothing to do with the type of underwear being worn. I see mothers and daughters fighting about this in the store ALL. THE. TIME.

post #16 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post




I've got another answer for why we dress our daughters like this: it's because it's what is in the stores. Even for little girls (like early elementary school age), that's what is available. This starts early. There are pageants and Disney princesses and mythology galore that tells them that what really counts is being pretty and bagging the husband. At any cost. 

 


Okay, I hear that excuse a lot. Especially from working moms... "its what's in the stores". Jeesh. If you look around hard enough, there is nice clothing for your girl that doesn't look "too mature". Land's End, Hanna Anderson, thrift stores, basics at JCPenney and Sears.
post #17 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post




I've got another answer for why we dress our daughters like this: it's because it's what is in the stores. Even for little girls (like early elementary school age), that's what is available. This starts early. There are pageants and Disney princesses and mythology galore that tells them that what really counts is being pretty and bagging the husband. At any cost. 

 




Okay, I hear that excuse a lot. Especially from working moms... "its what's in the stores". Jeesh. If you look around hard enough, there is nice clothing for your girl that doesn't look "too mature". Land's End, Hanna Anderson, thrift stores, basics at JCPenney and Sears.


I don't really buy it either. Particularly not in BC, I live in BC too and we have no problem finding clothes for DD that are modest enough for her to be comfortable in them. Sure there is a lot of less modest clothing out there, but not all of it.

 

That being said, Annie Mac does live on the island which isn't a major hub as far as population though so it just may be harder to find a variety there.

 

post #18 of 103
Thread Starter 

LOTS of great posts here.  thumb.gif

 

While I do understand what the author is saying, I also feel like I have personally worked through some of those issues that she hasn't.  Musician Dad, you are RIGHT ON. There is another option for our daughters.  It's not either modest or promiscuous.  There's also the option to be personally sexually interested. 

 

 

Quote:
OMG, it's SOOOOOOO hard to find a dress that is at least mid-thigh and has some sort of straps... even spaghetti.

Yup. 

post #19 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicianDad View Post




I don't really buy it either. Particularly not in BC, I live in BC too and we have no problem finding clothes for DD that are modest enough for her to be comfortable in them. Sure there is a lot of less modest clothing out there, but not all of it.

 

That being said, Annie Mac does live on the island which isn't a major hub as far as population though so it just may be harder to find a variety there.

 


Of course there is modest clothing. I didn't mean there was ONLY promiscuous looking clothing. But there is plenty of it, and even the very young girl (baby, toddler) has questionable selection. They're covered, sure, but with slogans like "diva in training" and "little princess" and "spoiled brat." 

 

post #20 of 103

Daily clothing isn't too difficult with the current styles. I'm certainly glad that my DD is a teen now and not 6 years ago when bare mid-riff was popular. Even 2 years ago, you were hard pressed to find a pair of non-skinny jeans in a teen size. Recently when I was helping out a costumer friend, we were laughing how none of the girls knew where their waist actually is because all their pants are made low-rise. Tops are getting flowy again which is nice especially for girls who aren't bean poles. However, that is right now. Who knows what will be popular in 3 years. Formal attire is still very difficult even online (and it sounded like the girls mentioned in the article were dressed up since they were wearing the heals.) We ordered a dress that looked good on the model but it was much lower cut in the chest than it seemed in the picture and we had to send it back. Like I said, we did eventually find something but it took many trips, many stores and what we got was something she was comfortable in not something she neccessarily loved which is sad. 

 

Personally, I want my DD to have the chance to identify with her generation is she wants to. I know I have fun laughing with friends about out the 80's and what we wore then. It's natural for teens to want their own look apart from their parents and their little siblings. I don't feel there is anything wrong with that. Landsend and the like has great stuff for kids and we ordered from them frequantly when DD was like 9. However, they don't have anything for teens really. I wish the fashion industry offered them real choices... a way to be fashionable but still comfortable. Really, why is it that 2 years ago the only options was skinny jeans or jean shopping in your mother's section? Why can't they offer modest versions, styles that look good on various body types (because some clothing can look suitable on one body type only to look questionable on another.) Can a girl find modest clothing? Of course. Will they feel like they fit on campus? Not neccessarily and that's sad to me.

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