Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That?

The Wall Street Journal published a thought-provoking article this weekend, wondering out loud as to why today’s mothers-of-teenagers allow their daughters to dress and act like the Paris Hiltons of the world.

With surprising honesty and clarity, the author admits that feminism might be to blame:

“We are the first moms in history to have grown up with widely available birth control, the first who didn’t have to worry about getting knocked up. We were also the first not only to be free of old-fashioned fears about our reputations but actually pressured by our peers and the wider culture to find our true womanhood in the bedroom. Not all of us are former good-time girls now drowning in regret—I know women of my generation who waited until marriage—but that’s certainly the norm among my peers.

So here we are, the feminist and postfeminist and postpill generation. We somehow survived our own teen and college years (except for those who didn’t), and now, with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don’t know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily. We’re embarrassed, and we don’t want to be, God forbid, hypocrites.”

You can read the full text of the article here: Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That? (not for young readers)

Feminists are constantly telling us about how much good they have done for “us”…

…how we should be grateful for all the advances and freedoms that their efforts have afforded women. However, one needs to ask, “at what price”?

If feminism truly teaches young women to have confidence and self respect, then why are the daughters of feminists treating themselves like…welltrash?

And why are their mothers allowing–even encouraging–them to do so?

13 thoughts on “Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That?

    1. That’s the point. But where is poor parenting learned? Previous generations did a much better job at teaching their children modesty and self-respect. What we are witnessing now is a revival of classical paganism, where women are taught by example to think of themselves as cheap and to believe they are “free” when they behave according to lowered cultural standards. Reading about ancient Greece and Rome is most enlightening on this score. I recommend Charles Schmidt’s book, The Social Results of Early Christianity, available free on Google Books. Modern feminism isn’t new; it’s just a revival of old, tired paganism.


  1. I think this whole thing is very sad. Often moms seem to promote this slutty type of dress out of a desire to live through their daughters in a way they wished they had lived but didn’t; and/or they are jealous; and/or they want everyone to think they are a great hip mom. Sadly, the moms often dress in a very suggestive, immodest way as well–even the so-called “Christians” and often when gathering for worship. One need not dress as a sack to look the part of a Godly woman.

    The daughters are being done no favors! Someone needs to protect them from themselves. It is our job as parents to lead and guide our children until they can do it for themselves.

    Lest we forget, Christ taught that anyone who harms the least of his children is better off–being drown in the sea with a millstone around the neck.

    I’m often accused (even by family) of shielding my 11 yo dd too much. I’d rather stand before God and try to explain that than to have to stammer and offer excuses for why I let her dress or behave as the world does.


  2. I am in the middle of reading a very interesting book addressing this topic and others that girls face in this culture. The author is not a Christian, but he has a good handle on these issues. He is a medical doctor and has a Phd. in Pych. Although he doesn’t follow the party line in these areas.
    The book is “Girls on the Edge” the author is Leonard Sax. He explains that one of issues regarding provocative dress in young girls comes from the sexualization of girls, being an object and being on display for others. Strangely enough, the very thing that feminists didn’t want is what has happened as a result of the Womens Lib movement. BTW, he has also written an excellent book about boys “issues” as well, called “Boys Adrift”


  3. We don’t have broadcast TV (by choice) but do watch a few clips of news online. Many of the female newscasters wear tight short , usually lowcut, dresses while sitting on couches UP on stage. The male broadcasters wear loose fitting suits. I have seen quotes from feminists that it is OK to use their bodies as enticements to get what they want. …It is a spirit…and not a good one!…old as the hills 😦


  4. Often lax parenting comes from lax parenting from their parents, or a lash out from over-strict mothers and fathers.
    My mom’s a feminist, and I don’t dress like I walk the streets. All of my friends are like that as well.

    I don’t want to start an argument of feminism vs. antifeminism, I’m just pointing out that it’s wrong to charge a movement as the cause of scantily clad girls. There are social, cultural, and economic issues at stake. The issue is more complex and just issuing a blanket statement of “lol, silly modern feminism is THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL” simplifies and dumbs down the problem.

    I hate, hate, hate the glorification of “old time values.” People were horrible then, and are horrible now. Human nature doesn’t change. We’re capable of incredible good, and incredible evil.

    Times are, yes, better than they were. As a woman, I can vote and work, without any societal pressure. I can give birth and stand a pretty good chance of surviving. I can marry someone outside my race if I ever wanted. I can, yes, dress how I want to. Not saying it’s right, but I’d rather have the choice to dress how I wish than be forced to dress to someone else’s standards because you know what? That’s what we call a slippery slope. No, a little girl shouldn’t be dressed in a tank top and daisy dukes. That’s horrible and teaches a girl to rely on her looks rather than her mind. AT THE SAME TIME, a grown woman has every right to dress like she pleases. Welcome to the 21st century, it’s a cool place to be.


    1. From your comment, it seems obvious you have not read much on this site. We do not blame everything on feminism, nor do we glorify the mythical “good old days.” I highly recommend reading our Theme Articles, which touch on these topics and demonstrate where we are coming from.

      Ignorance of history leads to many wrong conclusions about where we came from as a culture and where we are going. In my first response, I mentioned neo-paganism–not feminism–and recommended an excellent book that shows how where we are today mirrors ancient Greece and Roman (which devalued and sexualized women). There have been times in history, however, when women have been respected, honored, and treated with dignity. This cannot be traced to feminism or paganism but directly to Christianity’s push-back against paganism. Again, I recommend reading Charles Schmidt’s book as well as Alvin J. Schmidt’s (no relation) book, How Christianity Changed the World. Another fruitful study is of Geneva during the time of John Calvin. The city was so remarkable in its superior treatment of women that it was called “The Paradise of Women” in Europe.

      As for having a right to dress in any way we please, we have to remember that what we do as individuals does have an impact on others besides ourselves. The sexualization of young girls today cannot be traced back to modesty, propriety, or careful parenting but to the lack thereof. Once again, a revival of paganism is at the root, and feminism has done very little to try to stem the tide. When you have feminists who are pro-pornography and pro-prostitution, you have an invitation from women to treat women as sexual objects–even those women who prefer to be treated with dignity and respect. The feminists who are against pornography are few and far between and not nearly as vocal as the organizations that push for earlier and earlier sexual “freedom” (which is really exploitation). Don’t take my word for it. Read Planned Parenthood’s manifestos. Read reports of NOW meetings. When a very vocal minority of women advocate these things, they lead the culture. It doesn’t matter if 80% of women do not share these views and do not wish to be identified with them. Similarly, when sexual exploitation is promoted in “sex ed” in schools at younger and younger ages, when immodesty is pushed on girls as “freedom,” and when the “hook-up” culture is celebrated by feminists as the road to happiness, it affects how all women (regardless of their beliefs) are treated. The overwhelming message men receive in our culture is that all women (at increasingly younger ages) are available and eager. This is not the case, but the voices of women who prefer to be courted, won, and wed are drowned out by the steady deterioration of the culture.

      You have a right to your own opinions, and no one is “forcing” you to adopt someone else’s standards. However, we issue a call for women to think about the choices they make and make them for the good of others–not just themselves. There are little ones growing up behind us and learning from our examples. If we live for ourselves and do whatever we feel is right for us, we teach them to do the same, disregarding the needs and feelings of others. Good parenting means sacrifice. It means a willingness to put others first and to think about what the world will look like in another generation when the young folks we are bringing up grow old. Dress may seem like a small matter, but it is an outward manifestation of an inward reality. Do we view ourselves as worthy of human dignity, respect, and honor? Then we will dress in a way that reflects that. If we view ourselves as cheap and easy, we will dress to reflect that. The WSJ piece is simply pointing this out and asking readers to question the message they are sending to their girls. We can complain that it’s the fault of the media that the kids are into, but money controls the media. If parents weren’t buying (or tolerating) the skanky clothes or putting up with the sexualized lyrics, the demand would dry up.

      We all have choices to make. Let’s be thoughtful and wise rather than just looking for what’s “cool” or what pleases us temporally.


  5. I hate it when articles and TV shows on fashion emphasize the “sexy” part of clothing yourself, as if that were the only reason someone would want to wear anything. They assume that all women should have the right to “feel and look” sexy, and if you don’t want to, you are a sad, sad woman who must increase her self-esteem!
    What happened to dressing to portray a woman who is intelligent, modest, confident, spiritual–or even cute? I don’t *want* to be sexy when I am out running errands, at work, or visiting with friends and family. I don’t want men to have any excuse to look at me in that way–except for my husband of course!


  6. Well, my input on this subject is based on a Biblical Worldview and a belief in Creation.

    What has this to do with how young girls are dressing?

    Evolution says we are evolving in an upward direction…but Thermodynamics says we are devolving. I believe this is with morals as well as every other area where Thermodynamics are concerned.

    J in VA, you put it beautifully, “Lest we forget, Christ taught that anyone who harms the least of his children is better off–being drown in the sea with a millstone around the neck.”

    Science is proving the Bible daily. These are the days of darkness and gross darkness. Or another way of putting it, like the days of Noah.


  7. Women are expected to look a certain way; beauty standards tell women that in order to be beautiful, you must be skinny, white, big-breasted, etc. Women are NEVER supposed to dress “dumpy” or unkempt, but on the other hand, we’re reprimanded if we dress TOO “sexy.” Where is the happy medium? To avoid being accused of being ugly, we try to maintain an artificial sense of prettiness. This “norm” is especially hard to achieve when the woman in question is, in fact, big-breasted; I, myself- a big-breasted woman, see it as a challenge to find tops that don’t accentuate the girls! Women should be able to dress how ever they want to.


    1. Thanks for the comments, “C.” There is, indeed, a happy medium, and it isn’t one that’s bound to one culture’s assumption of what constitutes “pretty.” Modesty is beautiful because it honors our dignity as women (of any size) and doesn’t stoop to exploitation. I live in Africa, surrounded by women from dozens of different tribes, plus about 100 different nations (India, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, all European countries, even China). Most women over age 30 dress modestly and beautifully in very different ways. It is the younger generation that is being sucked into the West’s definition of (airbrushed and Photoshopped) “beauty,” and their mothers and grandmothers lament the change.

      As for the idea that women “should be able to dress how ever they want to,” that would only work if each of us lived in a bubble where our actions would not affect others. The way we dress does directly affect others, because it influences the culture. If we lament the size 0 “ideal” woman projected in our media yet try to dress in the same skimpy clothing that the runway models strut around in, we are doing nothing to fight that unrealistic image, and our daughters and sisters pick that up. We need to be considerate of others in the way we clothe ourselves, in our manners, in our speech, and so much more…precisely because we live and move among millions of other people and cannot just live for ourselves and our own desires. Over here in Kenya, immodesty still has the power to shock. There was an article in a national paper last week by a man who was disgusted by the skimpy clothing worn by young ladies coming to help street children in his village. He remarked that these western girls (who spent more time in the local Internet cafe than on the streets) looked like street children themselves in their skimpy boxer shorts and tight tops. He was embarrassed for them and wondered aloud why Westerners don’t bother to study a culture before coming to “help” it. Had they done so, they would have known that modesty is still considered important here in Kenya and that women who do not draw attention to themselves with skimpy clothing are very highly respected and honored.

      So, yes, there are ways to dress that do not draw attention to our sexuality but still show that we are feminine. And then our real beauty has a chance to shine through our eyes as others are drawn to our faces and personalities first. It’s a wonderful gift to be able to enjoy our womanhood without inviting others to think of us in purely physical terms because our clothing is sending the wrong message. Thanks for posting!


  8. I think it’s sad that despite the advances women have made, that some STILL consider themselves objects. I too am a feminist, and a feminist QUAKER at that! As a Quaker I see men and women as helpmeets. NO superiority nor inferiority of people, only superiority of GOD over people.
    I am also PLAIN, which means… yeah… I kind of look Amish.

    It’s not fair to show your body as if it bore no equal value to the mind that time’s wisdom has helped to cultivate! It is however an individual choice, to dress as one pleases but few people weigh what the implication truly expresses, most specificaly when that individual is young. I think less that it’s feminism that has made a person feel impowered to dress scantly, but more that it’s 100’s of years to being reduced to “chattel” by a larger society. Something that many women have yet to overcome…


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