Teen/tween girls and fashion - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 03-05-2013, 11:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My older daughter is now 11 and has started becoming interested in fashion and being pretty. She is a pretty girl but she has never taken much interest in prettiness for the sake of being pretty before. But now she is thinking about her hair and her fingernails and what she is going to wear, etc.

She's started getting concerned about what clothes she has and what clothes she wants. I don't mind her being interested in her appearance, and I'm OK with us making some choices about clothes and how much we'll spend. I want to make sure I discuss this in a way that presents my concern that her appearance not become too important to her where it overshadows her other qualities, without downplaying her understandable and age-appropriate interest in fashion and looks.

What are some good ways to discuss appearance with daughters while helping them to grow up to not see appearance as their most important defining characteristic, but while being respectful of their interest in appearance? I feel like this is a balancing act.
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#2 of 19 Old 03-05-2013, 02:44 PM
 
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My daughter is just 8 but she's taken an interest in fashion. We don't talk about it a lot, but I make sure that she doesn't let clothes get in the way of anything else. As an example, my mom got her some shoes that have a little heel on them, and those are her 'going out for supper' shoes. She can only wear them if we're just going out to eat, or just to a movie, not if there's a chance she's going to run around or play. I say having fun is more important than how you look. I tell her she's a good climber (she's a monkey!) and I love how energetic she is, etc. Mention that braids are great for swimming because it'll keep the hair out of her eyes. Do you have a sewing machine? Maybe see if she'd like to learn how to make clothes, then she's at least learning a skill and you get to indulge her interest quite a bit. 


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#3 of 19 Old 03-05-2013, 02:58 PM
 
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Just remember that for most girls, these middle years will be the peak of their concern about clothing and looks. They will develop their own style and continue to look for clothing that flatters themselves but most high schoolers in our area, really don't stress about labels and having the "right" clothing, wearing make-up every day, and having perfect hair like they did in middle school. Basically, don't treat her like she might have a life-long affliction if you don't handle everything perfectly. Know that for most, this is a very normal stage at a time when they are most insecure and most want to blend into the crowd (and having the right look is akin to being invisible... it's a shield.)

 

My own DD went through her stage around 11. We were direct and upfront about the budget and about our own expectations in regards to modesty. We didn't really talk about it that much honestly and it was sort of a non-issue. The BIG mistake I made, was pushing too hard on her taking care of her skin and hair. She didn't have acne but she'd get random pimples that could have easily been handled with minimal but routine care. Her hair got really oily and it drove me to distraction because all she had to do was WASH it once a day. However, before I realized what I was doing, I created a lovely power-struggle which I lost to her passive aggressive ways. I backed off and eventually, she started to care about those things herself and taking care of them. 

 

So, I guess my advice is to not stress it until you really see a problem. Be frank about how much you are willing to spend. Let her know in the beginning what is not ok with your family. Model a healthy self-image and comfort with yourself. Then just let her alone with it. Certainly, if she starts obsessing over her weight, being secretive, all that... I'd take a closer look. Otherwise... try not to let it be too big a deal.


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#4 of 19 Old 03-05-2013, 04:51 PM
 
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I mostly just let my dd choose clothes and don't allow things that are too short without leggings. She has no interest in low cut clothing yet so that isn't an issue. She doesn't say anything unhealthy so I don't feel the need to address anything. When we shop I tell her the type if clothing we need based on the season but I don't choose her clothing, I haven't chosen clothing for her since she was a baby so it makes no sense to start now. We have never had a lot of money so not being able to afford pricey clothing isn't something that causes drama.
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#5 of 19 Old 03-05-2013, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not actually concerned about her choosing immodest clothing. She's sensible and that just isn't something I'm worried about. I guess I'm just uncomfortable with what I see as a societal value that the most important thing for women is that they be decorative, and I worry about her falling into that mindset with how much importance she's suddenly placing on looks. She is talented and intelligent and I worry that will become less important to her than how pretty she is. She talks about being pretty, and asks me how nice she looks a lot. I'm glad she has high self esteem, but I don't like the idea of her self esteem or sense of self being built around how she looks.

This is foreign to me in that I was a tomboy and was never concerned about fashion, and really I am still not concerned about it. Maybe it's more something I just don't get than anything else.
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#6 of 19 Old 03-05-2013, 05:05 PM
 
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I agree with others. Things really do sem to peak in middle school.
I've had brief talks, but for the most part things are staying in check.

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#7 of 19 Old 03-05-2013, 05:26 PM
 
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I guess I'm just uncomfortable with what I see as a societal value that the most important thing for women is that they be decorative, and I worry about her falling into that mindset with how much importance she's suddenly placing on looks. She is talented and intelligent and I worry that will become less important to her than how pretty she is. She talks about being pretty, and asks me how nice she looks a lot. I'm glad she has high self esteem, but I don't like the idea of her self esteem or sense of self being built around how she looks.

 

Maybe it would help both of you if you talked about fashion and make-up as if it were a creative pursuit and a way to express your self as an individual. When fashion is a focus in that way, I tend to look at it as an art form. Even if it's "mainstream" I think fashion can be expressive and creative and a good thing for both women and men if they're interested in that sort of thing. 

 

Maybe you can talk to her about color, fabric and aesthetic from the perspective or a creative person? Rather than a person who want's to look "pretty", yk?  I think I'd try to avoid the word "pretty" and maybe say something like, "I like how you paired those pants with that shirt. It's a fun color combination and not one I would have thought of."  

 

I may join her enthusiasm for fashion by buying her things from the second hand store (if you do that).  Talk about creative uses for old things that she has. Maybe help her learn a craft that can be applied to fashion (applique, bow making, t-shirt repurposing, duct tape jewelry making and etc.).  

 

If she's more focused on her hair and skin, maybe shift the focus to self-care. Talk about some of the values of being neat and tidy (I can't help much with what those are...orngtongue.gif).

 

I've grappled with this issue a little because I also have an 11 year old who is so far not all that interested in this stuff and when she is she has the cutest style (very funky, casual, monochromatic) but her first choice middle school has a fashion track and I spent some time worrying about her getting interested in fashion.  But then I realized that fashion is super creative and I've decided to embrace that if my DC wants to go that route. (The school also has graphic design and architecture)  

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#8 of 19 Old 03-05-2013, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really like that approach - focusing on creativity rather than "pretty." :) Thanks for that suggestion!

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#9 of 19 Old 03-05-2013, 06:54 PM
 
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Interest in fashion is definitely a creative pursuit and also one of self awareness. My dd uses it to express who she is and also as a way to emphasize to her father (who isn't as supportive about her fashion choices) that she is her own person. I don't think it is a big deal to want to be pretty or for a child at this awkward stage to seek outside reassurance that they are still pretty. I wouldn't shut that down and risk sending a message of "no you're not you're pimply and grotesque with those weird double bulges on your chest and your body towering over the boys." I really think a wait and see approach might be good if there are no issues with what she is choosing to wear.
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#10 of 19 Old 03-07-2013, 04:54 PM
 
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#11 of 19 Old 03-09-2013, 11:55 PM
 
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The line I took (and take) w/ my DD is that much of the fashion and make-up industries rely on making women and girls feel inadequate and ugly, in the interest of selling new stuff all the time.  This follows from the fact that for most cultures, how a woman LOOKS is considered more important than what she DOES.

 

That said, I encourage her (my DD) to ask herself when she shopped - do I like this color, this cut, the way these clothes feel when I move? Am I comfortable and happy with these clothes? I try to encourage her to see what looks good on her and while paying attention to what is "in fashion" this season, find out what other things that may not be in fashion, but are good looking on her she might want to continue to look for or buy or have made, or make.

 

This has led to a lot of purple in her wardrobe (shirts, belts, shoes...). She tends to like v-necks (shirts & sweaters),  jeans, and swirly skirts. She has far better clothes taste than I do (she gets it from her father) and now she sometimes helps me choose what I will wear.

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#12 of 19 Old 03-10-2013, 06:08 AM
 
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The line I took (and take) w/ my DD is that much of the fashion and make-up industries rely on making women and girls feel inadequate and ugly, in the interest of selling new stuff all the time.  This follows from the fact that for most cultures, how a woman LOOKS is considered more important than what she DOES.

I think this is another really important thing to discuss with our girls. Marketing in general is something that I think all kids should be helped to understand at a young age. 

 

I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with second-hand clothing that started with I was a young teen, which I hope to pass onto my child. Not the need to shop and collect but the interest in taking advantage of the things that people cast away (that in our area are usually really nice).  


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#13 of 19 Old 03-12-2013, 08:43 PM
 
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What are some good ways to discuss appearance with daughters while helping them to grow up to not see appearance as their most important defining characteristic, but while being respectful of their interest in appearance? I feel like this is a balancing act.

 

honestly mamazee i would let her introduce the topic. and discuss it openly and honestly. i would be open with letting her experiment. but i think you already do that. 

 

one thing i have noticed at least in my case - that dd really doesnt watch what i say but watches closely what i do. 

 

the other day i was saying how i am losing the few pounds i want to. and she rolled her eyes and said ma are you following societal norms? and i told her no. i was trying to get to a healthy weight and keep heart issues at bay as my daddy had heart issues. 

 

one thing i really enjoy doing with dd is go to thrift store and look at outfits and we both share how we both would change that look. we rarely buy anything. dd and i have very different tastes but she is a great seamstress. 

 

dd will start middle school next year and she loves punk stuff. and reneissance. however its hair colour i am worried about. dd wants to really bleach her hair and do crazy colours. i really dont want her to do that till she is a little older than 11 or 12. i think she will want hair colour more than clothes or makeup. 


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#14 of 19 Old 03-14-2013, 07:28 PM
 
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Mamazee do you have any of the American Girl self-help type books? We have a few and I think some of them discuss fashion issues and not getting caught up in it all. My kids love putting together outfits but they're very funky. I showed them The Story of Stuff, which they love, and they've watched most of the other videos, too, so they are not too caught up in shopping for shopping's sake. They do like to sometimes, especially dd1, but we often go to thrift stores and consignment sales.

 

Meemee, we did henna streaks in the hair. Came out bright orange on my blonde one and more subtle but still noticeable on my brown haired ones. I was okay with streaks because I figured if they didn't like it it was a small amount of their hair. Really glad we didn't do the whole head for the blondie!


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#15 of 19 Old 03-14-2013, 08:22 PM
 
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A book I really enjoyed around that age was Bobbi Brown's "Teenage Beauty".  I think she does a good job focusing on creativity and self-expression while showing how to "polish" your personal style.  I appreciated seeing girls that had thick, heavy eyebrows like mine, and crooked teeth!


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#16 of 19 Old 03-16-2013, 01:17 AM
 
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Meemee, we did henna streaks in the hair. Came out bright orange on my blonde one and more subtle but still noticeable on my brown haired ones. I was okay with streaks because I figured if they didn't like it it was a small amount of their hair. Really glad we didn't do the whole head for the blondie!

beanma dd has pretty dark brown hair. for bright colours - she wanted blue - we would have to bleach her hair first which i refuse to do. otherwise i have no objections to her trying and being happy with superman hair that glints blue in the light. 

 

for the moment i'll go with dd experimenting with hair styles. even being bald. but she does not desire that yet i think. 


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#17 of 19 Old 03-16-2013, 08:14 PM
 
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This is meemee's dd. I think that you should say," You choose, I decide." 


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#18 of 19 Old 03-16-2013, 09:33 PM
 
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Full disclosure-I don't have any daughters or teenage kids, and I'm not sure how you'd go about introducing the subject to your dd, but maybe you can talk about some of the research into self-objectification and the impact it has on individuals?

 

This blog post has some really interesting things to say about it, though it is mostly coming at the information from the topic of modesty.  

 

This quote particularly made me think. 

 

 

Quote:
Self-objectification is an epidemic among females today, as Lexie’s PhD research can attest, and it keeps females “in their place” as bodies in need of constant preoccupation and perfection. It takes place when we internalize an outsider’s perspective of ourselves. We literally picture ourselves being looked at as we go throughout our days, and research shows it gets in the way of everything we do. Everything. When we have to accomplish a task while also thinking about what we look like while doing it, we’re at a major disadvantage.

When we live “to be looked at,” self-conscious of our bodies, we are left with fewer mental and physical resources to do what can really bring happiness. We perform worse on math tests, logical reasoning tests, athletic performance, we have lower sexual assertiveness (including the ability to say “no” when needed), and we are left unfulfilled and unhappy.

 

I am somewhat interested in fashion and like to look pretty.  I really like to make clothes that I feel are flattering and love to get compliments on them.  After thinking about the above, I started noticing how often I am trying to picture how I look to other people.  This happens mostly when I am dressed up (which is not most days lately!) and particularly if I am wearing something I've made and am proud of.  I still like to make clothes and feel pretty and I don't think that in itself is problematic, but I now try and make it my goal to be able to stop thinking about how I look as soon as I'm done getting dressed and go out the door.  If I ever have a daughter, I think I would want her to know that it's ok to enjoy making yourself up, but that if you focus on how you look all day long, you're doing your other talents a disservice and missing out on a lot the world has to offer. 


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#19 of 19 Old 05-07-2013, 02:26 AM
 
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Hi there ok so im a teen and i really like things like hollister justice abercombie and fitch etc ..
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