Hey, here’s a new thing: teenage girls wearing revealing clothing. That doesn’t sound like teenage girls! The Wall Street Journal has a far-out opinion piece about the phenomenon. Jennifer Moses, the author of Bagels and Grits: A Jew on the Bayou and Food and Whine: Confessions of a New Millennium Mom, wonders: “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?”
The way Moses puts it, her generation of baby boomers were the first to experience sexual freedom/free love/birth control/etc, and they feel like hypocrites telling their daughters to be prim and proper. So the teenage girls of America are prancing around in tiny skirts and crop tops that say “Hottie” on them or something, training to become the “campus mattress” (Moses’ words, not mine), because of their mothers? I think that’s her argument, anyway.
She does sort of admit that teen girls rebelling via their mode of dress isn’t a new thing:
I posed this question to a friend whose teenage daughter goes to an all-girls private school in New York. “It isn’t that different from when we were kids,” she said. “The girls in the sexy clothes are the fast girls. They’ll have Facebook pictures of themselves opening a bottle of Champagne, like Paris Hilton. And sometimes the moms and dads are out there contributing to it, shopping with them, throwing them parties at clubs. It’s almost like they’re saying, ‘Look how hot my daughter is.'” But why? “I think it’s a bonding thing,” she said. “It starts with the mommy-daughter manicure and goes on from there.”
Listen — your friend is wrong. The concept of a “fast girl” is like 60 years old. Nobody wants to be like Paris Hilton. My parents certainly never threw me a party at a club, although the parents on “My Super Sweet Sixteen” seem to be all about that.
The tone here is awkward. The whole article feels like when your mom sat you down to ask if you were having sex and you reacted by rolling your eyes and slamming the door to your room. Teenage girls aren’t dressing “like prostitutes” because their mothers are condoning it, it’s because they are experimenting and exploring and trying to be kind of badass. What do you think Grease is all about? This isn’t some novel thing.
As someone who was a teenage girl quite recently, I can vouch that not all adolescent girls these days are dressing like Erin Brockovich — and if they were, that doesn’t mean they’re being promiscuous (and if they were, who cares as long as it’s safe!). And certainly no teenage girl is dressing “inappropriately” because her mother wants her to. Quite the opposite — maybe Moses is too far removed from adolescence to understand, but most of the thrill of being a teenager is pissing your parents off. If your mom is all, “Here, I’ll buy you a hot pink tube dress, no problem!” in a desperate ploy to bond with you, the only appropriate response is to say, “Ew, Mom, you don’t get me at all.”