Teen fashion fuels mom’s lament

Laura K. Silver is a trustee of the Jewish Light who writes a blog for the paper’s website (stljewishlight.com/laura). Laura is married and the mother of two middle school age children.

Laura Silver

Call me old fashioned. Call me set in my ways. Call me just plain old. I don’t really care what you call me, because I’m too busy trying to raise a smart, beautiful, confident girl, and sometimes it feels like the rest of the world is trying to sabotage me. 

I don’t get teen fashion these days. We set up rules to protect our children. We say the age of consent is 18. We all agree to it. We make laws to uphold it. Then the fashion world comes around and tries to make our teen daughters look like (yes, I’m going to say it) hookers! Prostitutes if you prefer, but girls for hire, no matter what you want to call them. Yes, as in “Pretty Woman.” 

It was 1990 and I went to see it the first week it opened. I remember it well because I sat next to my next-door neighbor, a young man who later joined the priesthood. Seeing him squirm and fidget and even groan throughout the entire movie was an experience I will never forget. Why was he uncomfortable? 

It started within the first few minutes of the movie. Julia Roberts gets dressed to go to work. You remember the outfit—sleeveless, low-cut white top with a cut out on each side, short blue metallic skirt on the bottom, held together by a circle…ringing any bells? If it isn’t, no worries, just go to your nearest junior’s department.

There you will find today’s version of the exact same dress, only this time, it doesn’t represent a prostitute, but rather an option for your daughter to wear to her next dance. Sure, she can swap out the high-heeled black boots for some sandals and skip the wig, but the dress? The dress is virtually the same. Am I the only person who isn’t OK with this? I can’t be. 

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I want my daughter to feel beautiful, to be proud of herself, to feel good about herself and what she wears. I want her to have the confidence to wear whatever she wants. And, believe it or not, I’m even okay with her showing skin…at the pool or beach…where it is appropriate. Truth be told, I don’t mind if she wants to dress like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” while attending a dance where her teachers are present. 

So long as we are talking about the end of the movie, not the beginning. 

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