Recently I have been a part of some conversations about the state of tween and teen fashion. All involved mothers discussing either their own children’s tastes and preferences or those of others they’d recently seen. The first conversation involved our town fair. Some women were commenting on how the teen girls, and those even younger, showed up with their butt cheeks hanging out of their shorts. The next conversation that got me thinking happened at the beach and a mom friend mentioned how her 11 year old daughter doesn’t fit into the children’s bathing suits anymore due to her height. Yet many of the women’s styles aren’t appropriate and she didn’t want her wearing a bikini.
One of the differences between the conversations was that the first one took a tone that these girls ought to be ashamed of themselves for showing so much skin. The second one took a tone of concern that an 11 year old isn’t emotionally ready for the attention that her changing body is going to attract if she bares it all.
Several thoughts are going through my mind right now. Firstly, in my ideal world, people could go naked if they so desired. It gets very hot and humid in the summer and it seems silly to wear any clothes at all on some days. Baring skin should not be an automatic invitation for sex.
My second thought is, we still live in a society where bare skin sends the message that we are inviting sexual attention. It’s not right. It’s not ok. But it is the current reality. We live in a society that tells overweight people they are gross if they aren’t covered from head to toe. We live in a society where we tell thin people they need to eat a burger. Collectively, we don’t really know what normal looks like and we are quick to jump on a person who doesn’t fit our individual image of normal.
So what are we supposed to do? STOP COMMENTING ON PEOPLE’S BODIES!
Did you get that? Just stop! It is none of your business what I wear or don’t wear. It is none of my business what you wear or don’t wear. I would hope that you wear something comfortable and appropriate for the activities you engage in, but if you don’t, I’m fine with that. Build an igloo in the buff, but realize that you risk hypothermia. Wear a parka to the fair on a hot summer night, but realize that you risk hyperthermia. Beyond that sort of thinking, I don’t care and I have nothing to say about your bikini, your sack-like dress, or your booty shorts.
Do you have children? I do. I need to help my son navigate this world where the culture is telling him that he has the right to comment on people’s looks and is supposed to assume that a girl whose butt cheeks are hanging out of her shorts or whose breasts aren’t completely covered wants sex. There are girls I care about that need to know that even though their minimal clothing shouldn’t inherently send a message about wanting sex, it probably does and are they prepared to deal with that?
How can adults help? STOP COMMENTING ON PEOPLE’S BODIES!
Celebrate accomplishments. Realize that a female in minimal clothing is probably just trying to deal with the temperature. Inform your children that the clothing a person wears may not be sending the message that is being received and it’s really best to get to know a person before deciding if they want sex or not.
And for the love of humanity, STOP COMMENTING ON PEOPLE’S BODIES!