November 20, 2005

What's Wrong With This Outfit, Mom?

The girls who dress the most outrageously are often those most starved for adult male attention, first and foremost from their fathers. This happens most commonly with girls whose fathers have disappeared from their lives, perhaps following a divorce, or because their workaholic schedules leave them little time for their children. Children who are raised with attention and affection tend to identify with and admire their parents. This identification is the basis for both discipline and the transmission of values. Without it, parents can't do their job.

I often recommend that fathers be the parent to take the lead in setting limits on their daughters' dress, because opposite sex offspring typically cut that parent more slack. Fathers can say, "Honey, you can't wear that. I know teenage boys -- I was one!" A dad like this is looking out for his daughter and treating her as someone special.

While talk and reality shows and tell-all memoirs thrive and a majority of teenagers today say that they would like to be famous, there are still girls and women who value privacy and modesty. They reveal a quiet confidence, a different kind ofglamour. Even famous people can be modest. They don't have to be Britney Spears. Take Audrey Hepburn, who has no counterpart today. Part of her allure lay in the way she embodied humility and modesty. Yet she also conveyed spirit and originality and a strong sense of self.

Even though she worked in an industry that often promotes commonness, she was an uncommon woman. Even though our daughters live in a culture that clearly promotes coarseness, they can be uncommon, too.

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