Shaming Girls For “Inappropriate” Clothes Isn’t The Answer
I’m the parent of a fourteen-year-old daughter, so I have skin in the game, so to speak.
She’s had an evolving relationship with her body. When she was little, her body was for twirling, dancing, cartwheeling and generally filling the space around her as she saw fit.
The dark clouds of body shame began to cast shadows at the age of nine when she returned from gymnastics upset that she was the only girl in the class without a flat stomach.
She started covering up with baggy track pants and sweaters, not just for gymnastics classes, but everyday, cold or hot.
She was never going to be a straight-up-and-down kind of a girl and I’m really proud that in her teenage years, she has embraced her curvy body. The baggy clothes are long gone, replaced by scoop neck tank tops and hip-hugging pants.
As with most teenage girls, there’s little distinguishing between the fashion choices of her and her friends. And they carry it off because they’re comfortable in their respective skins. They’re unapologetically, boldly confident. And why the hell shouldn’t they be?
I’m proud of them. But I should also be proud of their mothers, including me. Few of us enjoyed such positive relationships with our bodies. Some developed eating disorders. Others, including me, just never quite mustered the confidence to wear whatever we damn well wanted.
Our mothers projected their own anxiety and unresolved issues on to us which we internalised as our own. We must have done something right if we’ve managed to break the inter-generational cycles of body loathing.
The girls’ pride is a very conscious thing. They know what body shaming is and they won’t have a bar of it.
Which is why some hapless loser copped a mouthful after making a nasty comment to my daughter’s friend when the group were at a bus stop. “Are you slut shaming me”, she asked? Her friends had her back and quickly chimed in with their baby-feminist defence.
I can’t be sure what happened but the tide must have turned, leaving her friend feeling unsafe…