Express yourself

I saw this on Facebook…

14yodress

My immediate feeling was to say, “Fuck you,” but since it was probably my mom who posted it, I refrained. As the father of a preteen girl, I want her to express herself as she is most comfortable. If she wants to look like the girl on the left, fine. Like the ones on the right, fine. Or anywhere in between.

My second feeling was, man, this is some grade-A sex negative slut shaming right here. Humans are sexual beings. Many, many girls at 14 are biologically prepared to have sex. Our culture says they shouldn’t and I’m not advocating they should, but we also can’t stick our head in the sand and pretend they’re not going to do it or they’re not going to feel like expressing themselves sexually. Neither is it possible to assume those girls on the right are any more likely to engage in sexual behavior than the girl on the left. Never mind the fact this kind of assumption is next door neighbors with the “she had it coming” rape response. Bottom line, it’s bullshit to judge anyone based on their appearance, especially girls.

Thirdly, the skeptical side of me kicked in. We don’t know the age of any of these girls. We don’t know how the ones on the right dress all of the time nor do we know if the one on the left has ever dressed differently. Also, not for nothing, “when I was 14” probably wasn’t last year but that car is definitely relatively new. So, assuming any of them are 14-year-olds, it’s obvious girls dress both ways now. Also also, having been a 14-year-old myself more than 14 years ago, I can tell you for an absolute fact some girls dressed just like the ones on the right, only without the ability to record it as a selfie.

Lastly, I wonder what would compel someone to even create this. What kind of judgy, insecure, pitiful, unhappy soul sits around and worries about how girls dress? This is more a “I wasn’t a slut” statement and my basic assumption is those who sit in judgement and go to lengths to say what they aren’t pretty much all of the time are.

Here’s a fun exercise: Imagine what the boy version of this would be. Chances are it’d be more about race or social status with no mention at all about sex. That’s because young men are quantified by their capacity to commit violence and young women are quantified by their capacity to have sex. Because we’re fucked up. Because we’re afraid of boys hurting us and we’re afraid of girls controlling their own bodies.

Sex is good. Sexiness is good. All these things are perfectly natural. We should embrace people no matter how they choose to express themselves. Even (especially) young women.

11 thoughts on “Express yourself

  1. Maybe it was just ment to illustrate that kids are growing up much faster then we did and really had nothing to do with sex at all. Hmmm just a thought.

  2. I know people who post drivel like that and it’s all about shaming girls. I know this because they also say that girls should dress modestly because boys are visual and can’t help having impure thoughts when they see girls in revealing clothes. I always want to scream, “how about you teach your boys not to be fucking assholes who leer at girls?” And the “kids grow up too fast/too soon” trope is as old as the hills. Every generation has people who bemoan “kids these days.” Fuck that.

  3. It seems especially unkind when you consider how difficult being 14 years old is in terms of sexuality: you’re starting (or continuing) to have sexual feelings, and to be expected (or feel you’re expected, or maybe forbidden, or probably both) to express yourself sexually, to be sexually attractive, yet you’re basically new to being a sexual woman. And you’re probably just starting high school and trying to create new social groups. I think most women feel a lot of pressure already around how they dress (too slutty, not slutty enough, looking good to your girlfriends, attracting possible mates, expressing your own identity, whatever) and that can only be more intense when you’re 14.

    It’s really mean-spirited to post pictures of kids ‘getting it wrong’ (even if you think that’s what’s happening).

    You’re also right that there’s no correlation between dress and behavior. I’ve basically dressed like a toddler my whole life* but at 15 I was giving head to my boyfriend in a parking garage after school every single day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, or with dressing up.

    (*except, ironically, when I was a toddler. Back then I was too young to express clear clothing preferences and my mother dressed me in adorable dresses and things.)

  4. Actually all of those things where you post pictures of other people to demonstrate something wrong with society (for example, pictures of people who shop at Walmart) are pretty much just asshole moves. You should ask yourself, “If this were my friend or family member, would I post this picture with this message?” And if not, then maybe you shouldn’t use a stranger’s picture to make your (probably dickish) point anyway.

    I’ll make an exception if the person is photographed intentionally displaying a political message. Otherwise, go fuck yourself.

  5. Not only is the car new, but there’s a pic of Stewie in a pimp outfit on her shirt. So, not only is that another point about the picture being recent, there’s also the fact that there’s a picture of Stewie, a crude baby who routinely attempts matricide, on her shirt. How is that a “role model” for how teenage girls should dress?

    And why should anyone care? All three girls look great to me. But I’m surprised that it hasn’t occurred to a lot of the people who post this kind of thing that this mindset serves no purpose other than to pass judgment on and further objectify girls by assuming they’re sluts because of the way they dress. I lost my virginity at 14, and I wore t-shirts and jeans. And I knew girls who dressed closer to the girls on the right, and wore promise rings. Judging girls by the way they dress is something you’d think we as a culture would have evolved past by now.

  6. I second everything you said. Judgmental. I have a 13yo girl also, and I’d rather she felt able to dress without being judged.

    Luckily I think Europe is less prone to slut shame than the USA seems to be.

  7. When I think about the explicit and implicit shaming going on in photos and statements like this, it makes me wonder how much of the continued insecurity about sex that my adult wife experiences is natural to her, and how much of it was manufactured by others. Many of the people she cares about most would never pass up an opportunity to comment on how slutty and horrible it is for anyone to dress in a way that expresses sexuality. I can’t help but wonder if she hears those same voices as she changes and changes again into a dress that is “more appropriate,” or looks around anxiously in all directions during a PG hug and kiss shared in public with her adult husband. But maybe I’m a dick for saying anything, because that could just be her feelings. Thanks for the food for thought.

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