Four reasons I will never question what my daughter is wearing.
I have made a point of never questioning what my daughter is wearing, which often gets me into heated discussion with people. So what are my reasons?
1. If I wouldn’t say it to my son I won’t say it to my daughter.
I have always lived by this rule in my parenting and I think it is something we so easily forget. We often say things to our daughters perhaps out of ingrained, outdated beliefs, conditioned thinking and fear. However, if it is something we could never dream of saying to our son then why would we say it to our daughter? Would we ever tell our son to cover-up or say that they were showing too much skin and we would never say, “Are you going out it that?”
I don’t want to bring my daughter up in fear.
A lot of the reasons we question girls on what they are wearing is ultimately because we think they are in danger. If you dig down into most conversations about what girls wear, the main belief is that if they dress a certain way then they might get raped, sexually assaulted or a host of other things. Working in the police for 10 years, I can tell that you what your daughter is wearing has nothing to do with the likelihood of her becoming a victim to one of these crimes. If I question what my daughter is wearing I am putting her in fear, I am giving her a message that what she is wearing denotes how other people treat her and what they think about her. That is not a message personally that I want to give.
2. It’s her body.
Let’s face it growing up today for a girl is hard. They are getting multiple messages from various places about how they should look and more importantly how their bodies should look. Girls can grow up feeling like their bodies are not their own, that they are purely there for other people to make comments about. I want my daughter to know that her body is hers and she can do what she wants with it. If I start judging too, am I not just another in a long line of people waiting to body-bash her?
3. I don’t want her to feel shame.
Imagine you are dressed up to the nines, you feel great, you come downstairs and the reaction is, “Are you going out wearing that?” How would you feel? Pretty horrid I guess and guess what? Your daughter feels the same. However, there is an added piece here because it is coming from you, her parent; the overriding feeling is that of shame. When girls feel shame about their bodies and begin to hate themselves, then it can lead to all sorts of problem such as self-harming and anorexia. I don’t ever want my daughter to feel shame; I think it is one of the most negative feelings and one that is so destructive. So I make sure I never shame her.
4. I want my daughter to know she can do what she wants.
We are very good at setting limits and controls on young girls and while yes, I think we all need to act in a responsible manner, I think it is important that we give our daughters the message that they can do what they want (without reason) . I don’t want my daughter to ever feel she has to give reasons for her behaviour or the way she dresses or what she does. I don’t want her to ever feel that she has to explain herself or feel the need to conform to meet the expectations of others. Of course, I want her to know that her actions impact others, but I want her to make informed decisions based upon what she wants, not on some societal norm that feels far outdated. For me, this feels like a far more progressive way forward.
So the next time you ask your daughter, “Are you going out wearing that?” please think again....
If you want to download my novel on teen body image ( written with my daughter), it is currently free on amazon kindle.