“What in the hell is wrong with us?”

There’s a great article by LZ Granderson, a writer for CNN.com and ESPN. It also goes hand in glove with a recent piece I wrote. Most of the time when we have articles about modesty and young girls, it’s a white gal like myself or a mom like Jennifer Moses. Granderson is a father and he’s a black man. Guess what folks? We’re all saying the same thing. This has nothing to do with race or gender or any other social demographic. It’s about common sense: parents need to be parents, not BFFs.

As Granderson notes, we can carry on all we want about young girls dressing too provocatively, but ultimately we ought to be talking about the parents, something that the interviewer in the above clip seems to wrestle with. It’s not the 10-year-old who drives herself to the mall, much less does she earn the money with which to buy porn-inspired fashion. A parent or some other adult has to facilitate the entire shopping experience. I made this point in 2005 when I gave a talk at a fashion conference in New York. Like Gunderson, I used the same Abercrombie & Fitch example of thong underwear for young girls. You might recall – it happened in 2002. Family groups protested. But before AF could pull the item from its stores, the item sold out. That means that parents took their daughters to the mall and gave them the money to dress like tramps. As Gunderson writes, “What the hell is wrong with us [them/you]?”

His entire article is worth reading, but let me share one of my favorite parts with you:

I don’t care how popular Lil’ Wayne is, my son knows I would break both of his legs long before I would allow him to walk out of the house with his pants falling off his butt. Such a stance doesn’t always makes me popular — and the house does get tense from time to time — but I’m his father, not his friend.

Friends bow to peer pressure. Parents say, “No, and that’s the end of it.”

The way I see it, my son can go to therapy later if my strict rules have scarred him. But I have peace knowing he’ll be able to afford therapy as an adult because I didn’t allow him to wear or do whatever he wanted as a kid.

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  • Ileana Erica

    Is it just me or did the woman not seem to take this as a serious concern? Mr. Grandersen did a really great job. I’m so glad people are starting to speak up about this.

  • Anthony

    It’s all well and good to acknowledge that Grandersen’s point is a good one, but we should also point out the elephant in the room – that some of the causes he champions are a major part of the sexual liberation culture that facilitates precisely the type of thing he criticizes in his article. Once the purpose of sex becomes purely a function of personal choice, then quite frankly, who are we to say that a little girl shouldn’t dress like that? We reap what we sow.

  • http://catholicjournaling.wordpress.com Jason Roebuck

    Since my wife and I just had our first baby girl less than two weeks ago, I can only speak about the fashion choices for 0-3 months. However, when I was looking at one of the shirts that she received at the baby shower that said “All night Party”, it appears that the pressure to act out starts early. I have never said anything to my son about the pants that ride low, because I assume it is a fad that will end soon. I guess I need to take another look at that stance, because of what it says about his acceptance of popular hip-hop culture and sexual promiscuity among his peers. He would say that they are just pants, but my response will be that they are pants as long as they cover your underwear. At the point they uncover any part of your underwear, they are cease to be pants and are more a statement of your acceptance of a culture that is not in line with our faith.

  • GRE SMITH

    Pia: When my wife was younger she wore thong underwaer for awhile. She is and allways has been the piller of peronal conservatisim. Sine the only ones who saw it were me and the other women in the locker room at the JCC gym, I don’t see a big deal. OTOH NO WAY would she have allowed our daughter to wear them, especailly as a pre-teenSFPalladin. If she ever did, it was whan she was in college, buying her own and as much an adult as her mom. ~~ Best regards, Greg Smith

  • karen

    YES!! We need more parents to be parents and not BFFs! Glad to know my children also can afford a good therapist!

    Gunderson says it perfectly: “I don’t care how popular Lil’ Wayne is, my son knows I would break both of his legs long before I would allow him to walk out of the house with his pants falling off his butt. Such a stance doesn’t always makes me popular — and the house does get tense from time to time — but I’m his father, not his friend. Friends bow to peer pressure. Parents say, “No, and that’s the end of it.” The way I see it, my son can go to therapy later if my strict rules have scarred him. But I have peace knowing he’ll be able to afford therapy as an adult because I didn’t allow him to wear or do whatever he wanted as a kid.”

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  • http://www.thepracticingcatholic.com Lisa Schmidt

    34 YO white gal here. I often write and talk about this issue, and I know it falls on deaf ears much of the time. “Here she goes again,” is probably a common reaction to my commentary.

    My husband is in diaconate formation and much to my surprise, I recently heard a wife of another deacon candidate from our diocese say, “My daughter begged me to drive her to the mall so she could buy a t-shirt at Victoria’s Secret. So I did to get her off my back.” A wife of a potential deacon . . . This phenomenon crosses the conventional “they should know better” boundary.

    I am very involved with Pure Fashion (www.purefashion.com), a faith-based program that encourages teen girls to live, act, and dress with modesty and dignity – yet empowers them to embrace current fashion trends. My hope is that more young woman have the opportunity to be exposed to Pure Fashion curriculum. Great things can happe – Rey Swimwear was formed by a Pure Fashion grad!

  • Leanne

    I wish skirt lengths for young girls/women were of more concern these days too… Seems like they are getting shorter and shorter, and concerned buyers have much fewer options for appropriate clothing for our young girls. Time to teach them to sew again!!

    In the wonderful words of Dr. Ray, “It’s O.K. to have high standards as a parent.” We just have to be willing to do the really hard (and sometimes painful) work to hold them there.

    I have 4 daughters ranging in age from 12-7 and they know inappropriate clothing when they see it, whether it’s on an adult or a child. A little explaining goes miles and gives them much more than food for thought. Explaining plain truths about why people might choose to dress inappropriately makes them evaluate what they choose to ‘want’ to wear in the first place. Here in the Northwest, a quick drive through a skanky coffee stand is a life long lesson in how girls can exploit themselves… and how sad it is that they weren’t taught that it’s not necessary to share their bodies in that way to get by in life.

  • Kathleen

    I wonder how many parents don’t like the way their girls look but don’t know what else to do. It takes time, energy and sometimes money to seek out modest clothing for girls, especially if they care about being stylish. If Wal-Mart is your only option, you may just go with the flow. A great website for bathing suits is Hapari.com but you will pay more.

  • Ryan Andrew

    This reminds me of a story about St. Padre Pio, the great confessor and wonder worker. Padre Pio told an older women during her confession that he saw ‘in Spirit’ that her son was in hell because she could never tell him “no”. I think if parents learn to see this life from an eternal perspective they have a better chance of passing that on to their children. From that perspective being drawn into worldly superfluous nonsense might cease all together for them and their family.


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