You know what drives me crazy? Super short, sexy, “flirty,” nurse/nun/pirate/prisoner/cop/whatever costumes for women. I have nothing against a little glamour, but those costumes are just too obvious. Everybody likes to get attention, and showing off a lot of skin is a guaranteed way to get attention, but in a superficial, fleeting way. It’s like swearing. Some people swear excessively to get attention, like novice comedians and insecure teenagers. Other people swear with restraint and imagination, like Shakespeare and Mark Twain.
It especially pains me to see teenage girls dressing in skimpy outfits. Last weekend, I was in charge of picking up my daughter and a friend from the Homecoming Dance, and while waiting outside with all the other parents, I watched the steady stream of exuberant kids funneling out of the gym doors. The standard dress that probably 80% of the girls wore was a skin-tight, strapless, sequined tube dress that barely covered them. Worst of all was their obvious discomfort, as they kept tugging the top up and the bottom down as they walked. I can’t imagine how they danced in those dresses – or in the 3 inch spike heels they wore. Why on earth would they wear these outfits? The usual teenage girl Halloween costumes are just as bad. I recently saw a costumed group of girls hurry in to the grocery store to grab some snacks. One of the girls was in a sparkly bikini with white high-heeled boots and a giant pink wig, despite the fact that it was only 60 degrees outside. I’m not even sure what she was supposed to be – maybe a pop star?
WHY are moms buying these blatantly sexy outfits for their girls? I just don’t get it. With young kids, it seems that Halloween is a great excuse to dress up as a favorite character or take on a new persona – something funny or spooky or powerful. Maybe as girls get older, the new persona they want to try on is sexy. With boys, it just seems to move on to more funny/spooky/powerful. Maybe this is a natural progression, but this doesn’t mean girls (or boys) should just blindly follow along with media stereotypes. With no other guidance or role models, how else will kids know what it means to be sexy or powerful? How else will they know that the secret of both is really self-confidence? As with so many facets of growing up, mentors make a huge difference. The adults (including those in the media) in a child’s life are always teaching, whether they know it or not.
It is very important to have real people in your life who are strong, confident, compassionate, and self-aware. These are the people who will show your kids what is possible and the true way to achieve it. Even if you are already a great role model, it’s always helpful to have more great friends and family because you know that teens don’t necessarily aspire to be just like mom or dad.
My kids have known a variety of teachers, coaches, and other inspiring adults throughout their lives. Our family is also blessed with the great friends we have met through the Coast Guard and rock climbing. They have been a terrific influence on all of us. And let me tell you, women rock climbers are no push-overs. The strength, courage and focus they have developed over years of climbing carries through into everything else they do. I’m so glad that my kids have had a chance to see a different feminine ideal than the one portrayed in music videos.
Needless to say, my daughter won’t be dressing up in hardly anything this Halloween. I think she’s planning some kind of Steampunk Hogwarts combination. I’ll be dressing up as a rock climber.
Tags: Halloween, mentors