My teenage dd and the clothes she wants to wear...help me out please

(170 Posts)
AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:05:14

This is a kind of follow-up from the "what you wear might make men want to rape you" argument on another thread

Of course, I am a fully card-carrying member of "women should wear what they like and not have to suffer unwelcome attention" group

But here is my dilemma..

My dd is 15. She has big breasts for her frame. She likes to wear low cut, tight vest tops which I really have to bit my tongue about as her boobs are very much on display. She also wants to wear these tiny little strapless playsuit thingies that have to be worn without a bra. It looks like at any moment she is going to fall out of the one she insisted on buying (with her own, earned money from a PT job)

Do I pull my parental muscle and ban the wearing of such items bearing in mind she is living in my house, under my care. She is 15 and fairly streetwise but wouldn't cope with any serious sexual predation (of course). As part of her job, she was subjected to some unwelcome attention from an older bloke and she absolutely freaked out.

But still she wants to wear these clothes, and I know (as much as I rail against it, intellectually) that it isn't right.

I know this post is absolutely chockfull of hypocrisy and stupidity, btw, but am in a right old muddle.

What do I say to her, without

1) knocking her confidence

2) banning said clothes outright (we shouldn't have to do that, should we ? should we ???)

Am I taking the concept of wearing what you like and Fuck the Patriarchy too far and overthinking this ? Or by letting her wear relatively revealing clothes, am I failing in my duty as her mother ?

Now be aware these are perfectly ordinary clothes you can buy all over the high street, that thousands of other teenagers are wearing too. That is why she wants them, of course. Nothing she wears is at all overtly sexy, it's just how it looks to me, IYSWIM. I see my DH wincing sometimes too, and he is very feminist-minded. I guess he is mindreading others shock

Help me sort this out please. < sob >

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:05:47

god, that is such a mess

I'll get me coat blush

ivykaty44 Tue 17-May-11 20:10:19

How is she going to learn to deal with the unwanted attention if you ban her from wearing clothes that you don't think are right for her body?

Oh goodness this is a mindfeild I can remember my mum telling me not to wear a mini skirt and me thumping a bloke in the gents bog as he had put his hand up my skirt that same skirt my mum didn't want me to wear - he got dropped from the rugby team due to it as well for a month in season for his behaviour. I delt with it, the rugby lads delt with him and he learnt his lesson - hopefully

how are we all going to learn if the items are banned

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:12:50

true, to everything you said, ivy

especially the bit about minefield < wail >

RamblingRosa Tue 17-May-11 20:14:56

It's a tough one. I struggle with this. Not yet because DD's only 3 but I do wonder if my "girls should be able to wear whatever they want" stance will be tested when she's a teenager. I wonder if my desire to protect her as a mother will over-ride my views on women being able to wear what they want.

I went out as a teenager dressed in arse-skimming mini skirts and very low cut, tight tops with no coat late at night. I got a lot of unwanted male attention but I have no idea whether I would have got more or less if I'd worn baggy jeans and jumper. My mum (a committed feminist) always bit her tongue and never questioned my choice in clothes.

I suppose the bottom line is that although it's difficult for us to see our daughters wearing the kind of clothes that men might cite as an excuse for their behaviour, we know that it is no excuse. We know deep down that we can't protect our daughters by making them cover up head to toe and nor should we.

Sorry, I'm probably not helping much am I? I just wanted to say I sympathise with where you're coming from.

ongakgak Tue 17-May-11 20:19:44

I dressed provocatively when I was a teen for a short time, all to attract boys my age. I was skinny as a whippet and had no bust to speak of. My parents never prevented me from wearing what I chose, but they often tried to engage me in conversation about the attention that I might garner and how that might make me feel.

I think they kind of got the balance right- giving me information, talking to me, trying to map out some of the consequences I might face in the "real world"- but at the same time making it up to me to decide what I wanted to wear.

Given your daughter has a more "womanly" build and having a big bust will attract men and boys- men may even think she looks older? I would keep talking to her about all of this, and in the mean time buy her a couple of good multiway bras that will give her some support.

The fact that she has had some unwanted attention, gives a great opportunity to talk about this and have her consider who she is dressing for- herself, her peers, boys?

Does she have any slightly older female cousins, aunts that might influence her? If so it might be worth asking them to chat with her too, causally, informally, go shopping together.

I might make her think twice if a peer or almost peer she respects were to say something like "your boobs are going to fall out if you wear that!, chuck this ..... (trendy item from H&M, topshop etc) over the top"

Tricky.

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:20:58

thanks for the sympathy, rosa

maybe that's all I need, after a bit of a row with dd over the playsuit thingy

if I don't step in, it feels like I am not protecting her

if I ignore it and let her bounce around with her (32DD) boobs hanging out, it feels like I am turning a blind eye and throwing her to the lions

she said tonight "you treat me like a 5yo"

my response..."I wish you were a 5yo, because then I wouldn't have a problem with that outfit"

that's not good is it...I am knocking her confidence worse than some old lech might do, aren't I?

shit

AyeRobot Tue 17-May-11 20:21:20

I am soooo glad I was a teen/early 20 something during a time when band t-shirts, leggings and docs were the hight of cool.

<unhelpful>

I wouldn't even presume to offer any suggestions on how to handle this, AF. My thoughts are very much with you, though. Minefield is entirely correct.

Prolesworth Tue 17-May-11 20:24:25

Message withdrawn

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:25:12

x post, gak

good ideas there

she refuses to consider anything I suggest when we shop together, tbh

she is in that phase of "must have something because my friends have it, whether it suits my big boobs or not"

her best mate is skinny and much less well-developed, most unhelpfully

we went to an 18th pary recently and all the college boys/rugby players were chatting her up

DH's and my own head were on a rotating swivel smile

oh please....take me back 10 years

please grin

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:26:11

sorry, this is going down the "teenage" route

I may post in "teenagers" too, but wanted some strong feminist voices to give me a bit of perspective

SardineQueen Tue 17-May-11 20:27:45

AF that's a really difficult question. My children are very small and more likely to give an eyeful of builders bum cos their nappy has slipped or insist on dressing from head to toe in pink.

In a way actually, it is comparable to the little ones dressing in pink, but with an additional dimension added? The clothes are not to your taste and you worry about what others will think of her based on her clothes. People who are more into stereotyping than you. So a little one demands head to toe pink, without knowing the connotations that has. And the parent has to bite her tongue and let them get on with it even though she thinks it's foul and will affect how people treat the child. They get older and again want to follow fashion and look nice, it goes against the taste of the parent and she worries that it will affect how people treat the child.

Of course it all has an extra edge when said child is going out / just starting to go out by themselves. And there may be drink. And boys.

My rational side says let her get on with it. Creepy men will always find something - tall girl, short girl, high heels, flat shoes, low top, red top, short skirt, big hair, lots of makeup, no makeup, they will always find something to comment about. And I really don't think makes any difference to your likelihood of something bad happening (thinking flashing etc everything really).

But of course I understand that as her mum that's really hard. And I dread to think how DH will react when ours start with this stuff!

Bunbaker Tue 17-May-11 20:29:17

Whether you like it or not, the kind of outfits you describe are attention seeking, and your daughter needs to understand this.

I agree that provocative outfits do not give men the right to try the goods on display, but your daughter needs to be realistic and be able to learn how to deal with unwanted attention. I'm not suggesting that she dresses in baggy, shapeless clothes, but there is a fine line between looking nice and sexy and cheap and sexy.

MumblingRagDoll Tue 17-May-11 20:30:35

I was never stopped and I wore some shock outfits....my parents also talked to me about how I may be approached and how to deal with it...but they never stopped me and I delt well with any shit I got.

SardineQueen Tue 17-May-11 20:30:57

ongakgak has good ideas.

I took so long to type that I have xposted with everyone blush

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:31:48

I need to apologise for treating her like a 5yo and have another proper chat with her (instead of a row blush )

it's kinda different when it's not you it's your own child, you know ?

QBEE Tue 17-May-11 20:31:54

My mum used to buy me wholly innapropriate clothing and take me shopping and pick up fashion items and hold them up against herself before remarking how lovely they would look on me. This psychcolgical trickery had the effect of making me not want to wear it out of stubborness and horror. grin

This has also worked on my younger sister who is young teen aged atm.

Might this work for you?

ivykaty44 Tue 17-May-11 20:33:07

I think you need to be a mum first and a feminist second.

dd is 18 and 2 weeks ago told her dear sister about not being sexulised at 12 shock this is the firl that wore her school skirt around her ears and I reminded her of this and she said yeah but now I knows its wrong - so it will be a passing phase if that of any help by 17/18 it should be done with.

I do remember telling dd1 it was short skirt high collar or low cut long bottoms as them are the rules you don't flash the lot - but this was a while back and she didn't take offence. We also had the chat about men looking into your tits instead of into your eyes when talking and how to spot it and what to do about it - could you have that chat with your 15 year old?

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:33:31

fuck, fuck, fuck

MN is playing up again and logging me off every time I write a long post

bastards

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:34:26

qb...am loving the reverse psychology angle grin

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:36:37

I chat with her all the time about this stuff

she just wants to do/wear what everyone else is wearing though, and can't see why I am concerned

I need to chill

and butt out

yes

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:38:42

...and carry on trying to talk to her

AyeRobot Tue 17-May-11 20:39:42

Heh @ Bunbaker for the "cheap" comment.

AF, is your daughter tall too? Regardless, make sure that she knows what her cleavage looks like from the perspective of someone taller than her. I'm a shortarse and for years I only looked into a mirror and forgot about the view from above. It just never occurred to me until a bf said something when I was wearing what I thought was a modest top. Of course, I imagine that your daughter is not a total thicky like I clearly am.

EvenLessNarkyPuffin Tue 17-May-11 20:40:06

You could try focusing on the breast issue rather than her clothes. Explain that her breasts need support, and that it is unfair that her friend can get away without a bra, but that her larger breasts could start to sag if she doesn't wear a proper bra.

AnyFucker Tue 17-May-11 20:44:34

I keep trying to reply to individual posters but keep getting bumped off < grr >

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