A friend sent me an article the other day and asked for my opinion on it. It came at the perfect time, because I had been mulling over something similar I was thinking a few weeks ago. The article in question is called My Daughter Wears Booty Shorts, and I Learned to Love Them. I highly encourage you to read it, whether you have a daughter or not.
A few weeks ago, my friends and I were at our local coffee shop when we saw a little girl, about 7 years old wearing a skirt and a crop top. “First bikinis for toddlers and now a crop top on a 7 year old? What is this world coming to?!” I thought. But then I started to wonder, is there really a certain age when it becomes okay for females to show more skin? The reason I was worried was because the message this little girl’s clothes were giving off: more skin = more desirable to creeps in the world that may find it so.
But guess what? There are always going to be creeps in the world, no matter what you wear. Clothes are not an invitation, and those who choose to believe they are are missing something.
The over-sexualization and objectification of women is not something new. School dress codes skate by things boys can’t wear and focus on what women can’t wear: spaghetti straps, too short shorts, skirts that don’t touch the floor when you kneel, anything showing stomach. Most schools are worried that boys will get too distracted if they see a girl’s bra strap, legs, or stomach.
Dave and I got into a discussion a few years ago about a girl we saw at a bar wearing shorts that covered only 3/4 of her butt. I thought they were trashy. Dave thought she should be able to wear what she wanted. The reason I thought so was not really because of her shorts, it was how she was carrying herself. I didn’t know her. She didn’t look like somebody I would be friends with. She looked like she was putting herself on display instead of comfortable in her own skin. If she was the girl in the article wearing booty shorts while at Crossfit throwing weights around, I guarantee I wouldn’t have thought them trashy.
I know my female friends are strong, confident, unique women with just as many hang-ups about their bodies as I have about mine. And if they chose to wear short shorts and show off the legs that carry them around doing all their strong, confident, unique stuff, I wouldn’t care one bit.
It’s hard to be 100% okay with your body, no matter what you look like. Curvy girls wish they were skinnier, skinny girls wish they had more curves. If a girl chooses to wear something that shows more skin, should we really condemn that fact that she feels confident and beautiful enough to wear something like that? (Deciding what body type someone should have before wearing a crop top is another discussion).
If I had a little girl who picked out a two-piece swimsuit at the store to wear, should I really tell her that it’s not okay to wear it because I would worry about creeps looking at her? I guarantee the last thing she would be thinking about is putting herself on display for the world. She would think she liked the colors and felt pretty in it. And isn’t that what it’s all about? If she wanted to wear a cape because she liked it and felt good in it, I should let her wear that, too!
Instead of focusing on bringing up girls who don’t dress “trashy,” maybe we should focus on bringing up strong, confident women who are kind, have big ideas, and are proud of their bodies. Instead of telling girls they can’t wear spaghetti strap tank tops at school because it might distract the boys, maybe we should bring up strong, confident boys who respect women for their kindness and big ideas and let them know that clothes are not an invitation.