Monday, March 22, 2010

Innocence Lost

Well, well, well. A new blog entry two days in a ROW! Who knows, maybe someday I will write that novel.

This post was inspired by the Facebook status update of a friend with two teenage daughters. My friend was simply wondering what has happened to the young ladies of today. When did it become acceptable for them to dress, talk and act like women? When did the skirts get so short, the necklines get so low and the heels get so high? How does a parent of today try to guide their daughter in the direction of dressing and acting more appropriately for their age without becoming public enemy number one?

Although I, myself, do not yet have teen aged children, I can easily admit that this same thought has crossed my mind on many occasions. When I drive by the Catholic High School that is located just a couple of blocks from our house and I see the uniform skirts the girls are wearing that barely cover their behinds, I can't help but hope that baggy track suits and bulky sweaters are all the rage when my girls enter high school. And sadly, as much as everyone would like to point the finger at mom and dad, there is often not a lot that parents can do once their daughter is out of the house and on her way to school. When we were in high school there were rules about how short your skirts could be, and girls that didn't follow the rule were sent home to change.

I am quite certain that somewhere in the handbook of all schools, both public and separate, there is a dress code. What happened to the school boards of old that actually enforced these dress codes? Parents can't follow their kids to school every day, but if the school administration could pick up where parents left off, there might be a lot less pressure for young girls to dress in such a way. Let's face it, the reason they are dressing this way in the first place is because "everyone else is doing it". If no one was allowed to do it, at least not at school, then that would be a small step in the right direction towards helping these girls regain their lost innocence.

The truly scary thing is, that I am noticing this style of dressing is appealing to younger and younger girls. Thankfully, my 10 year old is still blissfully unaware of this sort of thing, but I am noticing that some of her other classmates are already looking, dressing and acting a little "old" for their age. Even the stores that cater to pre-teen and teen girls often carry clothing that belongs in a dance club, not a classroom.

Of course, we're also dealing with the media, TV, movies, Internet and music. These days, you are pretty hard pressed to find photos of celebrity ladies with all of their assets covered. Even the younger starlets who were often the picture of innocence, can now be seen in music videos dancing on the hood of their car in daisy duke shorts and heels. Heck, even the dolls that young girls play with are dressed in outfits that you wouldn't let your child wear on Halloween.

Of course, as kids get older, they want to assert their independence and develop their own style. As parents, we want to try to encourage this growth in a healthy and appropriate way. Simply barking out orders like a Drill Sargent may be what we would like to do, but will often have the end result of the child rebelling and heading full speed down the very path you wanted them to avoid. What to do, what to do?

At the end of the day, I guess that all we, as parents, can do is to try to lead by example. Showing our young girls that dressing and looking beautiful does not equal showing as much skin as possible. Praising celebrities and public figures that dress in an appropriate fashion. Steering kids towards wholesome activities, groups and clubs that stress positive body image and modesty. All of these things will hopefully have the desired effect of increasing our daughters' self-confidence, leading them to make choices that make them feel comfortable, rather than those that are made to simply keep up with the crowd.

I know that within a few short years, I will likely be dealing with these issues myself. It will make me long for the days when the biggest problem my girls had was a boy at school telling them they had the cooties! SIGH.

J :)

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