March 7, 2005
It's been quite cold here in Northern Virginia this past week -- we've had below freezing temperatures and enough snow and ice to close local schools for two days.
But if you were to judge the weather based on what many teen girls are wearing, you would think the temperature outside was 1,000 degrees - actually, that's probably the body temperature of the teen boys who, believe me, are noticing what the girls are wearing. Which is not much.
I am blessed (truly I am!) to be the mother of three teenagers. I'm keenly aware of the clothing "fads" and all the time it takes for my boys to carefully pick out clothes that make it look as if they've given no thought to getting dressed.
It's actually quite amusing to me to watch my boys and their friends deliberate about what or what not to buy or wear. I often have flashbacks to my own days of observing the strange dressing practices that my teen brothers and my folks' reaction to their choices. Bottom line was, my parents didn't care much for my brothers choices of clothing or hair. Fast-forward thirty years and now I'm the fuddy-duddy parent that thinks my sons' choices in clothes and hair are a bit, shall we say, undesirable. But I don't make a big deal out of it - they are clean, it's their style, and there's nothing actually wrong with their "look" - it just ain't my cup of tea. Although some guys "sag" to the extreme (i.e., wear their pants so low that underwear shows and other objects are in danger of showing), these are not the problems of most of the teen boys I know.
It's different with the teenage girls. Sadly, most of them look just plain trashy.
Call me sexist. Call me a prude. Call me what you will. But I absolutely refuse to allow my daughter to dress according to the dictates of the manufacturers of girls' clothing, which has been patterned on the preferences of such role-models as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, et al.
The sad fact is that a lot of today's tween and teen girls dress like street-walkers.
For the record, my 13-year-old daughter "gets it." She has a modest streak and enough sense to know that wearing shirts that are up to here and low-cut jeans that are down to there is a dumb idea. Besides that, she knows she would never make it out of the store dressing room - much less our house - in such attire. She knows that Mom and Dad don't allow it, so there's no sense in asking. She also knows, and even warns her friends, that bare bellies and bare upper thighs are not allowed in our house. Period. Often, her friends don't believe her. She's brought home more than one friend who has learned otherwise when I've sent them back upstairs to find something in my closet to cover-up with. I decided long ago that my home is not going to resemble a strip-club, "honky-tonk" or public school.
Ouch! Did I say public school? Sadly, I did. The dreadful reality is that many of today's schools have simply given up on the idea of meaningful dress codes.
Last week I wrote about my experiences as a substitute teacher (all two days of it) in a middle school when I went "undercover" several years ago to find out for myself what our local middle school was really like.
I wrote briefly about the sexualized behavior of the scantily clad girls - but the scene I described seemed to touch a place deep in the hearts of many of my readers. My inbox was filled with e-mail from teachers, former teachers, substitutes, etc. who shared their observations of schools that are out-of-control. Disrespectful behavior, raunchy-looking kids, over-sexualized little girls - why on Earth have decent parents allowed our kids to be so underserved, so undervalued, and so undisciplined?
The issues are many -- far too many to focus on in one column -- so I want to focus on just one: How do so many other little girls end up looking like sex objects?
How? Because their parents let them. And because many of the schools have given up - administrators are just too tired, or too lazy, or too liberal to care anymore. Moms and dads, administrators and teachers, it's our fault if America's little girls look like a tramps.
Face the facts: Most 12 - 16 year olds don't have access to a lot of cash - unless, of course, their parents give it to them. And, last I heard, if you're below the age of 16 you simply can't hop in a car and drive yourself to the local mall. Nope, it's not the kids' money that is being spent, it's the parents' money. And it's usually the mom that happily drives the little darlings to the mall for a fun day of shopping. Face it: Little girls dress according to what their mommies allow.
I thought mothers were supposed to protect their daughters, to teach them to value themselves and their bodies. What chance does a little girl stand of keeping her childhood or innocence intact when it's mommy that's driving her to the store and paying for the thongs, the itty-bitty skirts, the hipster jeans and the plunging necklines?
And when did fathers start letting their precious little girls dress like "ladies of the night"?
Hello, is anybody out there?
Parents, here's a novel challenge: Be the parents.
Your daughters are looking to you for direction and protection. Your little girls want you to set loving standards, to let them know they are of value. And there isn't anyone else that's going to do it. Our culture has sold our daughters short - will you be guilty of it too?
Rebecca Hagelin is Vice President of Communications and Marketing at the Heritage Foundation.
First appeared on WorldNetDaily.com