How Do You Let Your Girls Dress?

Jennifer Moses has written a piece at the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That?” that has everyone talking. It is an interesting article where she specifically asks the question, “Why do so many of us not only permit our teenage daughters to dress like this—like prostitutes, if we’re being honest with ourselves—but pay for them to do it with our AmEx cards?”  That is an excellent and loaded question. If we are not guilty of doing this ourselves, we are bound to have a friend or two who parents in this way.  

When Moses discusses this with a friend, the friend relates the trend to parents and specifically moms wanting to be their child’s friend, rather than the parent.   “I think it’s a bonding thing,” she said. “It starts with the mommy-daughter manicure and goes on from there.” Anyone who mistakenly believes it is better to be their child’s friend than their parent, those who are afraid their child will “hate them” if given boundaries, needs to read Bringing Up Geeks by MaryBeth Hicks.  In her book, Hicks reminds us not to allow our children to “peak” in middle school, but to keep the long term goal in mind- to raise successful independent adults.  You cannot do that without actively parenting your child.  

Moses goes on to describe why she thinks parents are giving in to this trend of dressing our daughters like prostitutes.

We are the first moms in history to have grown up with widely available birth control, the first who didn’t have to worry about getting knocked up. We were also the first not only to be free of old-fashioned fears about our reputations but actually pressured by our peers and the wider culture to find our true womanhood in the bedroom….So here we are, the feminist and postfeminist and postpill generation. We somehow survived our own teen and college years (except for those who didn’t), and now, with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don’t know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily. We’re embarrassed, and we don’t want to be, God forbid, hypocrites.

Very interesting.  She in essence tells us that the Feminism of the 70’s and 80’s failed today’s women and in turn is failing our daughters.  For Catholics, we can be thankful for Pope John Paul II’s integrated vision of the human person in Theology of the Body to guide us in teaching our sons and daughters what we might not have learned about our body during our formative years. We are not hypocrites, but individuals who sinned.  We should educate our children with this gift presented in Theology of the Body because we are older and wiser and to hold it back from them would perpetuate our sin. There are programs to help our teens and pre-teens understand Theology of the Body in a way that will deepen their faith in God and develop their respect for their own body.

My oldest daughter is nine, so we are quickly approaching this world.  I’d love to hear from you on how you engage your daughter on this issue. Do you see these “fashion” trends of tween, preteens and teens as an issue or an over reaction by adults who’ve forgotten what it is to be young?  Do you let your daughter or son go along with their peers and pop culture so they will fit in and maybe have an easier time of growing up than you did?


Lisa Henley Jones