A few weeks ago while driving the school carpool my youngest (who is currently equally fixated on the Disney Channel and what the public masses wear) asked me about clothing choices. Specifically, that day’s question was, “why do some girls chose to wear things that show off their butts or the top of their boobs (her words not mine).” As we had just left the house and had a ten minute drive before dropping off the first in our morning’s line-up I saw my chance to give a lesson on modesty.
For the benefit of the fourteen-year-old in the group I kept it light (goodness knows she hates a “lecture”) and avoided any discussion of my own experiences and opinions (which depending on the audience are not worth much anyway these days). Instead I turned to a story shared with me just the day before by our young, single and hip (read non-mom persona) Occupational Therapist, Arianne.
Apparently during her teenage years Arianne had fallen in love with a pair of shorts that her mother thought were just a touch too short. Her mother’s initial solution? To not buy them for Arianne. But that solution only lasted for as long as it took Arianne to go off and buy them herself.
Now the proud owner of the all-cool, all-too-short shorts, Arianne wanted to wear them, to be seen in them, to be stylish – at least according to what was being sold as stylish. So one morning she came out insisting she was wearing them to school. “Well, if you wear them you will walk to school,” was her mother’s deceptively simple reply.
Calling her mother’s bluff, Arianne did walk to school. All four miles. In her new, cool, stylish shorts. And along the way she endured the hoots and cat-calls her new shorts - and her very nice teen-figure - earned her. And she never wore them again, because she saw them for what they were. A message she did not want to send, an image she did not want to portray.
That is the same message I am trying – sometimes pointedly, sometimes subtly – to my daughters.