Have Northfield parents gone over the edge on their daughters’ sleazewear?

Blogger Susan Lenfestey has a commentary in Sunday’s Strib titled, It’s summer, and folks are busting out all over (Barbie doll image is my selection):

pinkcoat_barbieNor did we who believe in gender equality intend this to be a license to the fashion industry to market slutwear to prepubescent girls, and bondagewear to their big sisters…

It’s not just young people. Women at the office are showing more, well — lower cleavage than the plumber under the sink. Seems to me we’re a culture obsessed with sex but clueless about eroticism…

It’s the sleazewear being marketed to girls and young women, and the women who buy into it, that makes me sorry for how far we’ve come — and how backwards we’ve gone.

I like viewing summer sleazewear on the women of Northfield as much as the next guy but I’d have to agree with Lenfestey… it’s a bit distressing to see how many young girls are dressing like the Barbies they’ve played with.


  1. Anthony Pierre said:

    Without getting into too much detail here, I would have to agree with you.

    I have been saying this for a while, but who am I to say what is appropriate and what is not. I love wearing shorts and a tee shirt EVERYWHERE.

    June 25, 2008
  2. I don’t care to see women use their cleavage as a power tool. I also don’t like to have to look at it if I am talking to someone who makes a point to expose herself in that way. In fact, I don’t remember having a conversation with anyone like that ever.

    If a female is on the beach and everyone is swimming and having a great time, I feel it is appropriate to wear as little as possible. to protect oneself from sand, etc. But, I am a sculptress by natural ability and training, and can easily look upon a nude with total sexual disinterest. Many people can.

    In Africa, and South America, people in tribes may spend more time segregated sexually because of their lack of clothing and other belief systems. Here in the states, we seem to spend a lot of time merging genders, and that results in many different types of view points

    I would hope a little girl could wear some little frilly fuzzy lacy things and be looked at as a fashion icon, and totally not as a sexual being in any way, shape, or form.

    If you cannot look at a child without having sexual thoughts or plans to act on them, you need to stay away from children. If you can’t do that for yourself, please get help.

    June 25, 2008
  3. Jane Moline said:

    Bright: A little girl can wear frilly fuzzy lacy things, but if it is a “whales tail” or a cami pinched at the bosom to suggest that she has breasts, it is definitely not fashion.

    The problem with the women’s attire market is that the buyers (as in the people who pick out the clothes to sell at the store) think we want to put slutwear on our children. The female television “stars” wear clothing that is ridiculously unfit for primetime and especially for being a cop.

    I don’t mind if a mature woman wants to show a little cleavage (see Helen Mirin’s Oscar night dress.) It is the young girls (12, 13, 14 but even to age 25 or 30) who dress in sexually suggestive clothing.

    And don’t tell me that is the only thing available for purchase, because it is not. There are modest clothes available–you need to look for them.

    I just think that beach wear belongs at the beach. We have quit giving guidelines to our children and let them run amok. They wear flimsy flip-flops everywhere, and the camisoles are not decent outerwear.

    When I was in college I had a roommate who was very well endowed. Her mother bought or sewed clothing to help “minimize” her top. Nowadays, girls are encouraged to push-em up and stick em out with minimum coverage.

    I sincerely believe it is an anti-feminist backlash. What better way to keep women out of the workforce than claim that they are bimbos–and since they dress that way, what else should we conclude?

    June 25, 2008
  4. Mike (semi-anonymous for my daughter's sake) said:

    I have a long-standing policy of not going to the Mall of America. My daughters, 13 and 10, are used to hearing me explain my fundamental disagreement with the business practices of stores such as Abercrombie, Hollister, and other making-preteens-sexy type stores.

    My daughters were at the MoA this summer as part of a birthday outing. They were walking through the mall when a Gilly Hicks (part of Abercrombie) representative handed my daughter an advertising pamphlet. The pamplet was a series of 4×6 and 6×8 photos:
    -Woman in bra and panties flanked by two men in underwear.
    -Woman in bra and panties with bra straps falling off.
    -Woman in panties with bra off and arm partially covering chest. (apparently naked man laying by her)
    Naked man climbing tree, watching woman in bra and panties removing bra.
    and finally,
    Naked man pulling bra off of woman in bra and panties.

    And the above was handed to my 10 year old daughter while walking through the mall. Not in the store, just walking in the common area.

    My policy has changed from “I’m not taking you there” to “you’re not allowed to go there.” They’re not arguing with me.

    June 25, 2008
  5. I think it’s UBER important to protect children, but unless you are Amish, you better prepare your children for what they are going to see and hear before someone else does it for you.

    June 26, 2008
  6. Elizabeth Buckheit said:

    This is very true that clothes are getting “sexified” for young girls. As a middle schooler, I witness every day the cotton corsets that are the clothes of Hollister, Abercrombie and the like. plus the growing popularity of short shorts so short that they do not even qualify as pants. Teeny tiny bikinis, low cut spaghetti strap tank-tops, and exposed bra straps are all things that my age group must have. Please can we just act our age and be content with appropriate clothes???

    June 26, 2008
  7. Eileen Seeley said:

    This was in the final 2008 newsletter from the high school. Looks like parents aren’t the only ones sick of seeing too much!

    We are still gathering input from the junior class, but surveys and discussions with staff and 9th and 10th graders have given us a sense of what we can and should expect from students in the area of student attire. Beginning in the fall of 2008, students will be expected to abide by the following student dress protocol:

    Undergarments (e.g. bra straps, boxer shorts) will need to be hidden from public view.
    Breasts and midriffs need to be covered.
    Sagging pants will not be allowed.

    We’ve been pleased that a significant contingent of students has supported these changes, as we believe that this addition to the student dress protocol speaks to a need for students to dress for success. We ask for your support in preparing your students for this new protocol as you shop for school appropriate clothing for your students over the summer months. Appropriate consequences will be put into play this fall to ensure that students are living within the protocol.

    June 26, 2008
  8. john george said:

    I have observed that the MOA is a place you can buy jelly beans and belly jeans. Fortunately, my 4 daughters are grown and married, now. I have no problem with people buying personal apparel for private use with their spouse, but Mike’s account of this type of marketing, I believe, crosses the threshold of propriety. Way to go, Mike!! Let me assure you, in the future, your daughters will feel much more respected and protected by you for your stand, even though they may give you some flack about it right now.

    June 26, 2008
  9. Betsey Buckheit said:

    As Elizabeth’s mom (she’s 13, incidentally), I don’t boycott MOA or any other place, movie, game, magazine, etc. nor prohibit Elizabeth from going/doing/reading them. I won’t buy any clothing I think is inappropriate but I don’t think isolation is possible nor desirable.

    I want Elizabeth to be able to make informed as well as appropriate choices, so the best protection is the continuing, critical conversation about what we see, how clothes are advertised and marketed (especially to teens), how clothing and behavior are related.

    But I’d love to hear what parents of sons (or the young men themselves) have to say about this issue.

    June 27, 2008
  10. Curt Benson said:

    Betsey, I’m going to go out on a limb. Northfield’s young men are not as appalled by “sleazewear” as some of the posters here are.

    In fact, my high school mole (female) told me about the taking of the survey that Eileen mentions in post #7. She said they were asked about various clothing related issues–and asked to rank them from 1 to 5, with 1 being very concerned, 5 being not concerned at all. She said that “concern about too much cleavage” received “number 5” responses from the boys. Unanimously.

    June 27, 2008
  11. Mary Schmidt said:

    In my observation as a young woman, I’m 25, I really feel that the clothing isn’t the issue. Curbing the “sexified” clothes is only a band-aid for a larger issue. I really feel this goes back to our cultures inability to be comfortable with our bodies and our sexuality. When I was a teenage there was a lot of pressure to fit in and do whatever one else was doing/wearing etc. I think that teens are taught through larger cultural venues (and maybe at home as well) that their value is in their sexuality. If you want attention you have to flaunt what you got. Banning girls and boys from seeing what’s out there in the media/stores won’t solve the problem, I fear that it will only lead to unhealthy sexual attitudes and behaviors as adults.

    My question is why do girls feel they need to dress that way in the first place?

    June 27, 2008
  12. I would like to answer your question, Mary, and I will try, but I must place a warning on it, as this is just off the top of my head and likely to be full of error.
    Yet, it should be pondered.

    It starts with the wearing of the bra. Young girls want to become adults and on of the best outward signs of that is owning and wearng the first bra. As a European based culture, we are silently led to the belief that even after child bearing, a woman must look virginal up until the very end.

    It’s the old slap in the face of motherhood by boys and men, instead of being honored as many cultures do, many American moms must take a lot
    of abuse to maintain a gathered family unit , and they have done so for decades.

    Women burnt bras in protest back in the 60s. There was a great photo of bras on a long fence. I see some Youtube and just google images and or text for more about that in today’s world and beyond.

    June 27, 2008
  13. Jessica Paxton said:

    Very well-stated, Mary.
    As a woman, it’s ridiculous (and sad) how much attention is paid to how we look instead of how we think or who we are as an individual. Case in point: think about how much media coverage there was during Hilary Clinton’s bid for the democratic ticket regarding what she was wearing, her hair style, and, Lord have mercy!, how much cleavage she was displaying.
    I am the mother of a young son and often times when I see how girls tend to dress these days, I think I’m really fortunate to have a boy. Of course everyone wants to “fit in” and fashion/clothing are a huge part of that, whether we like it or not. As an “older” mother, I have many friends with children in their teens — and I must admit I see their daughters sometimes and am appalled by how they’re dressed and how much make-up they’re wearing. Kinda creeps me out. Worst of all was when I learned that their daughters were insisting upon sporting “thong-style” underwear — or else they’d get teased in the the locker room. Huh?!?
    Anyway, I appreciate Betsy’s opinion in post #9, too. You can’t be too restrictive either. It’s certainly a fine line.

    June 27, 2008
  14. Anne Bretts said:

    Come on, ladies, let’s be honest here. Men aren’t buying this stuff for their little daughters. In fact, it makes most of them very nervous.
    Who went to Sex and the City? Who spends $500 on a pair of stiletto heels? Who takes these little girls to the kiddie spas? Women.
    Women can change this by changing their attitudes. As long as high school girls spend more time planning their weddings than planning their careers we aren’t going to be taken seriously. As long as the high school girls in Gloucester — and elsewhere — think having a baby is the way to get someone to love them, we aren’t going be taken seriously. As long as we watch a reality show that says you can find a husband or wife in a contest, we aren’t going to be taken seriously.
    Let’s face it. George Clooney poses in Vanity Fair in a tuxedo and Angelina Jolie poses naked in a bathtub. Nobody held a gun to her head.
    We do have Matthew McConaughy and all those botoxed old cougars and very agressive pre-teen girls and others doing the best they can to bring men and boys to the same level of exploitation.
    It seems we’re on our way to a sad kind of equality.

    June 27, 2008
  15. Women’s clothing is truly terrible.

    Do you realize how hard it is to find a bra in my size?

    (Actually, my Gravatar image reminds me of the one time I had to shop for a bra in my size. I’m 6’4″ and about 200 pounds.)

    Seriously, I often wonder if fashion tastes, which wax and wane in raciness over the years, drive or are driven by mass media and the clothing industry.

    I’m sure it’s a mixture. A feedback loop, reinforcing each other.

    The answer, regardless of what you or your progeny wear, probably lies in being able to talk about and understand human sexuality in more comprehensive and positive ways.

    Demonizing sex and sexuality only feeds the mystery and entices our young detectives to search out evidence for themselves in whatever matter possible.

    Set your limits, but keep conversation wide open.

    June 27, 2008
  16. Relatedly, think about the women’s magazines that are posted by just about every grocery store checkout. They are covered with exhortations to learn that great sex secret, discover what men yearn for in bed, become sexier by losing 10 pounds, get a sexier pout, etc. etc. etc. These are considered perfectly normal fare, with no caring thought given to the young girls who have to grapple with the idea that these concepts are supposed to be of importance to them as they grow up.

    Of course, when I was growing up in San Francisco, there were newspaper vending machines on neighborhood streets selling sex-oriented papers with topless women on the covers, and x-rated movies were advertised in the entertainment section of the Chronicle…

    June 28, 2008
  17. As an employee in the school district, I would love to inform every parent of a daughter to do the following tests before sending their daughter out of the house. Have their daughter sit on the floor cross-legged and then sit in a chair. You, the parent, stand behind them. If crack is showing, buy her a longer blouse! This is true even for elementary school! For Middle and High Schoolers, have your daughter stand up and bend over a desk, as they ALWAYS do when talking to a teacher. Walk in front of them or sit in front of them. If you can see down their blouse to their belly button, tell them to wear a different top. Make your daughter aware since others are aware of what your girl is exposing.

    June 28, 2008
  18. Anne Bretts said:

    If crack is showing, don’t we call in the drug dogs? (Sorry, I gave in to the temptation of John George’s bad jokes.)
    I agree Amber offers a good test, kind of a parental version of the three-way mirror (which many adults should use before they leave the house). Still, could we delve through our vast and poetic language and find something slightly more dignified than the word crack to describe what we parents would like to remember as the soft little bottoms of our innocent offspring?
    The very word conjures up images of hefty plumbers wedged under kitchen sinks and walks on the beach ruined by middle-aged folks still trying to squeeze into the little teeny yellow polka dot bikinis of their youth.
    I’m not a prude, I just think people like Katherine Hepburn and Paul Newman were able to generate a lot more heat with their clothes on than Britney and Mario Lopez do with their clothes off.

    June 29, 2008
  19. Because Griff wrote this in the June Bug thread, I think in cheeky response to my post #12 above,

    “Very few virgins needed to be sacrificed to the weather gods to ward off approaching thunderstorms.”

    to be fair, I will admit that some women, not me, but some women expect certain things from men in order to qualify them as being considered attractive beings…like they should look similar to Brad Pitt or George Clooney, neither of whom are virgins, afaik.

    June 29, 2008
  20. john george said:

    Anne- I am affronted!! Bad jokes? Indeed!! Actually, I thought that was a pretty good one.

    I think some of the discussion here can relate to the other thread going on about Christianity and the Biblical basis for it. One of the things I have been grieved about in our society is the equating of equality with sameness. So much of the womens’ liberation focus has been on exactly that. It is no wonder that there is such a backlash in our culture to diferentiate between the sexes. The unfortunate thing I see in this is the perversion of man/woman relationships. I read in the Ephesians 5, that we are to be in submission to one another. We men are to love our own wives (not someone else’s) as Christ loved the church and laid down His life for her. I also read in I peter 3 that we are to esteem our wives as fellow heirs in the kingdom of God. True liberation of women started a couple thousand years ago. It is unfortunate that the church lost sight of this so badly over the centuries. In the Christian circles I move in, women are esteemed for what they are in God, not what they are in a bikini. We have many women in top leadership positions. I have seen this liberty demonstrated in my 4 daughters’ lives, and all of them have some involvement in ministry. I have seen that because of this affirmation, they have not suffered under the pressure of the society to conform to this sexual image. They have been much aware of it and seen the effects it has had on many of their contemporaries, but they have not gotten sucked into it themselves. I believe that is just the grace and mercy of God.

    June 29, 2008
  21. Robbie Wigley said:

    This is such a difficult subject to talk about. Having a daughter and knowing that there is a time when everything you have done and hope you have done right… hoping you have helped her to have a great self image, helped to make her strong enough to escape the peer pressure, make health decisions, and project the wonderful person you know is inside in a way that everyone else can appreciate, what she is and will become. But there comes a time when you have no control and all you can do is hold you breath and hope.

    I was driving out of town today, Sunday, on highway 19. Just as I left town I noticed 2 very young girls walking on the side of the road. Both of them had the shorts on that barely qualify as outer wear. They had taken off their T-shirts and tucked them in the waist band of the shorts and were wearing the skimpy tops to bikini bathing suits. I was a bit stunned and as I passed I looked into my rear view mirror just in time to see one of them put out her thumb to hitch hike. I was, to say the least appalled. I was so stunned that I was quite a ways down the highway before the full extent of how very dangerous this behavior was.

    I was on a tight schedule and late as it was… so what I really wanted to do was go back, pick those two girls up and give them a little talk about the risks they were taking and how grateful they should be that I was the one that picked them up. I didn’t and to be quite frank it has haunted me all day.

    I hope those girls made it safely where they were going. I will probably never know if they had a close call, if someone did what I wanted to do or if they ever even realized the risk.

    Maybe it was a single bad decision… lets hope so. Maybe their Mom is holding her breath.

    June 30, 2008
  22. Melanie Matson said:

    Interesting discussion. I have been a part of a number of these conversations about women’s clothing as a staff member at HOPE Center (the local sexual assault and domestic violence prevention and resource center), grad student in social science and women’s studies classes, and professional who often works with children and adolescents. Inevitably, discussions about girls/womens clothing that I have been previously included in always seemed to lead to statements that suggest women and girls will be victimized based on their clothing.
    Before this discussion goes that way, please allow me to clarify that females are not assaulted because of their clothing. In fact research on rapists indicates that they do not even recall what their victims were wearing.
    I hope that this conversation continues down the helpful road of discussing:
    1. Why are young girls being sexualized (American Psychological Association just released a great report on the sexualization of girls) and what can we do about it;
    2. What does this say about our cultural and social context (good point Mary, post #11), as this is clearly beyond an individual issue:
    “It is unreasonable to expect that people will change their behavior easily when so many forces in the social, cultural, and physical environment conspire against such change” (Institute of Medicine, 2001, p. 4);
    3. How can we help children and adolescents (and adults), of any gender identity, to understand and respond and prevent this (see Cordelia Anderson’s Sensibilities, Inc. work on countering the normalization of child sexual exploitation and violence (yes, this includes discussions on clothes);
    4. Are there any preventative factors that we could replicate or use to challenge this issue (i.e. comprehensive sexuality education, look at additional cultures to find preventative factors, Betsey’s comment about boys – are they and their clothing less sexualized and if so how could we use this to reduce the sexualization of girls)

    June 30, 2008
  23. Jane Moline said:

    This is partly in response to Betsey’s comment about parents of young men–what do we think AND to Melanie’s question of whether young men’s clothing is sexualized like young girls.

    First, I have two sons age 21 and 18, and a 12 (almost 13) daughter.

    Boys clothing is NOT sexualized like girls. The only sexualized boys ads are in ads to sell girls clothing. As a society we have come to expect and accept that girls will display their figures, legs, breasts, etc. etc. You do not see that type of display by young men (OK, sometimes, but it is fairly limited.) The closest you will see is if you are at sports events and the young men are parading around without their shirts.

    Boys like the scanty clothing that girls wear–they are boys. They are curious and want to see more.

    My boys know that I will not tolerate pants that show their underwear–which is about as racy as they get.

    My daughter, on the other hand, is constantly exposed to girls and women wearing what should only be allowed in the bedroom or, if appropriate, the beach. She thinks it is attractive, because that is what she constantly sees.

    We have a Sears store in Owatonna. I just had woman customer in here in shorts and spaghetti strap top with a deep V neck. (All of her was large–you can imagine.) It was not appropriate for shopping. However, the top she was wearing can be purchased, in some similar style, at every women’s clothing store. If I were her, I would NEVER wear that top. But that is what is “in style.”

    One of the high-school boys told me what they call the very-low riding pants–since many of the girls that wear them are not sufficiently anorexic to make them look OK–Muffin toppers.

    They don’t have a name for the sleaze-wear tops. I think they like them too much to complain.

    I really dislike the spandex tops that cling to every tiny bit of fat–these stretch tops are really unattractive. What shocked me is when they were showing them on the Today show for a Mother’s day style, with little girls and their mothers in the same clothes–and the little tiny 5-year-old and 3-year-old had shirring between where their breasts will be so that the top would give some suggestion of breasts.

    I read somewhere (Northfield News?) that the high-school will have stricter dress-code this fall and moms should pay attention if they are buying school clothes–including no underwear, including bra straps, can be showing. This is a step in the right direction.

    Anyway, I would hope that the school, the teachers, the coaches and every adult in the community will take a stand and help girls make better clothing choices. I really think the men back off on this one because they are afraid to say something that would suggest that they are thinking about SEX at all when they see our young girls. But I don’t know what else they would be thinking about when our young girls dress like they are street walkers.

    I understand and agree with Melanie Matson’s comments that they are not more-or-less likely to be victims of violence because of their clothing. I just think they are less likely to be taken seriously when they want to participate in society–as employees, voters, and members of our community–when they dress like Barbie (or really, Bratz.)

    June 30, 2008
  24. Let’s Be Real for a moment. First of all, we are all sexual beings. We are all rather animal like, if not really considered animals, then why do we shave our hair, and trim our hair and color our hair. SO we don’t look like the animals we really are? Oh, and what about deodorant. We don’t even want to smell like the animals we are.

    Okay, so we are making a huge effort not to be the animals we are. I guess that makes us better than what we are. What! OMG, what! I think that’s impossible. We are not better than what we are, and what we are is magnificent, miraculous creatures, even if we do understand how we are put together and how we work. It’s a miracle we walk this earth.

    If you go to the Middle East and see people, men and women covered in cloth, so you can’t even tell they have bodies…this is very sexual to some people because of the mysterious nature of it, and the active imagination of some human animals. Clothing is not the issue for men or women there, survival is. Their clothing keeps them warm or cool, and free from sand blasts and sun burn. The religious leaders only use that fact to control them by saying they must wear those things like that, after the fact.

    Clothing is simply clothing used to protect us temperature extremes and disease, and sexy clothing is only sexy because some New York ad agency has made us believe it is so.

    July 1, 2008
  25. Jane Moline said:

    Bright: Only thing wrong with what you are saying is that I have had an opinion since I was in utero–I don’t need no ad agency to tell me what is sexy.

    Some people may not be able to tell what they are atracted to unless someone else tells them. I think most of the people on this blog have been able to form coherent thoughts for years, even before their grade-school teacher told them how to think.

    We don’t decide what is sexy because of an ad. We are, after all, animals.

    The question on this thread is whether parents are monitoring their daughters sleazewear. I think we can see by some of the responses that they are trying, without help from marketers.

    July 1, 2008
  26. Jane: You posted: “I understand and agree with Melanie Matson’s comments that they are not more-or-less likely to be victims of violence because of their clothing. I just think they are less likely to be taken seriously when they want to participate in society–as employees, voters, and members of our community–when they dress like Barbie (or really, Bratz.)”

    Taking people less seriously because you don’t agree with their style of dress, you in the general sense and particular if it applies, is really a form
    of discrimination. And saying that they won’t be taken seriously as voters is beyond what I can respond to right now.

    July 1, 2008
  27. john george said:

    Animals, huh? Hmmmmmm. If we are just animals, a little more advanced level than apes, then we must be driven by our sexual instincts, just as animals are. It has been proven that men are attracted/arroused by visual stimulation moreso than women. Therefore, why are we even bothered at all that men are attracted to women who dress in a way that heightens the visual stimulation and respond out of their instincts? But since we claim to have a higher level of reasoning than animals, there appears to be some inate sense that just going out and copulating with the nearest female in estrus isn’t the proper thing to do, afterall. Does this make it a moral issue, with right and wrong sides? And is there the possibility for self control? And, is this something that can be taught successfully? Hmmmm. I think everyone who has commented here has some very valuable observations. Now, how can these be implimented through action plans, and whose responsibility is it to do so?

    July 2, 2008
  28. Jane Moline said:

    Bright: We discriminate everyday. Recognizing our discrimination (prejudice) is important so we understand ourselves and our world.

    If you are going to hire an attorney to help you write your will, and he comes to meet you with low-rider baggy black pants, safety-pins in his cheeks, and a filthy t-shirt, do you judge that person? If you go into a store to buy something expensive, like a refrigerator, and the sales person is in a tank top with snake tattoos completely covering their arms, back and chest, do you pause for a moment?

    When you go to work, do you wear the clothes you garden in? Or do you wear your work clothes?

    We all judge the people we see by their appearance. We decide if they are grown-ups or children, worthy of our patronage, or needing our compassion and charity.

    I worked in downtown Minneapolis for 18 years. You learn to judge whether it is wise to walk on the same side of the street as someone else by their appearance.

    What our children don’t understand is that they will be judged by their appearance, and by people who may not be kind or compassionate. And 13, 14, 15 year olds are more worried about what their best friend thinks than what all those other people out there think. So should they get that pierced eye brow?

    Sleaze wear is sleaze wear, and our children do not have the judgement to realize that they are projecting an image when they choose their clothing–is it really what they want their teachers to think? Their employers? Their community? It is good for society to have social norms. We just seem to have unwittingly loosened them up without our agreement.

    July 2, 2008
  29. Julie Bixby said:

    Jane, (comment #3) I don’t think it is fair to say all the girls that dress in a less than modest way are bimbos. Most are trying to fit into their peer group. I am not advocating that this is ok, just that it is.
    Anne, (comment # 14) How true this is that some moms are the ones buying these clothes and the spa treatments…
    Remember when glamour shots was such a huge deal? I had a friend who took her daughter, who was all of 11 or 12 to have a ‘glamour shot’. After all the make up and hair style she looked much older. It was very sad. My girls were the same age and wanted that too. I said no way!
    I have tried to teach my children (I have a son 24, a daughter 21 and a daughter 19) to be proud of what they do and be a person who is recognized from the inside and not the outside. This is not an easy task for parents. We have to fight against outside forces. I found with my girls, while I put certain restrictions on what they wore, I couldn’t control everything especially as they got older. My girls grew out of the “I have to look like everyone else” stage- thank goodness! They are strong, mature women with goals for a career that will give them the ability to take care of themselves.
    Robbie, (comment # 21) You are so right. We have to hope that all the guidance we give will pay off. I am so glad my girls are the age they are. It is even harder now for parents of young teens.

    July 2, 2008
  30. Jane, May I welcome you to the 21st century? I know I will not change your mind, but in the hopes that people do not go too far in their assesments, or trying to judge a book by it’s cover, I make the following statements.

    The last few times my husband and I have consulted with an attorney, the entire discussion took place over the phone, and email. We never saw the persons involved face to face and we were satisfied with the results, even though the person may have been totally covered with pins, needles and tattoos.

    Would you condemn a WWII veteran for having a tattoo of a rose, a full chest battleship, or an anchor on his arm?

    When I go to work, I do wear my gardening clothes. I work at home and I garden wherever I can. 🙂

    My husband and I are of the mind to give people a break, a helping hand,
    or a little faith. We don’t throw people away cuz they are broken. We don’t overlook their talents because they don’t shop at Brooks Brothers.

    And walking across the street because you see some one you fear is sad.
    I have walked among criminals in Chicago everytime the jails get overcrowded and the authorities release a few hundred at a time,
    and would rather give my purse to one than to insult the many who wouldn’t take it, even if they needed it. There are other ways to handle
    that situation. Please be aware that those good people are aware of why
    you are crossing the street when you see them. It’s quite hurtful.

    July 2, 2008
  31. Jane Moline said:

    Julie: I did not say they ARE bimbos. I said they look like bimbos.

    Our appearances are important. Otherwise, we would all be wearing the same clothes all the time. We dress differently for weddings, funerals, the beach, church, picinics, etc.

    John George hit it on the head. Men are attracted and stimulated by skimpy clothes. I trust that most men will not grab the nearest woman and do what comes naturally because they have control (and sometimes they are even reasonable. : ) )

    Should we be encouraging our girls to dress in a slutty manner since men have control and won’t actually rape them? Or should we encourage reasonable norms for attire for school and in the community?

    Face the facts, girls (and guys.) You will be judged by what you wear. Sometimes by women, sometimes by men, sometimes by your boss. Make sure you understand that they will be making decisions about you based on your appearance. To suggest that your appearance “should not matter” is a bit naive, since it already does matter.

    July 2, 2008
  32. Anne Bretts said:

    Come on, Bright. I’ve written front-page news stories in my jammies when I work from home, but I wouldn’t wear them to a meeting with my editor.
    I am a very open-minded person, but I’m appalled by the way some people appear in public. They show no respect for themselves or others. It’s not about the cost of their clothes, but whether the clothes are clean and fit well.
    I love that our church is open to all, but I admit I’m sad to see wrinkled shorts and t-shirts and uncombed hair. And while I love that all kinds of people come to the opera, I wish it had a little more of the special flair that it once had.
    Of course, you can’t always judge people by appearances…when I was in sales I had a couple in dirty clothes and unwashed hair buy $11,000 worth of stuff without blinking — and paid in full on delivery without any financing or credit cards.

    July 2, 2008
  33. Tracy Davis said:

    Clothing is a form of non-verbal communication. The specifics may vary from culture to culture, or subculture to subculture, but throughout human history clothing has been used to communicate status of one sort or another, whether you’re the empress or a temple prostitute.

    I have three daughters, and I’ve tried to teach them that since clothing sends a message, they should be careful and deliberate about what that message is. I’ve worked hard to help my kids realize that there is a context for this that is greater than just what they’ve seen at Abercrombie for the past five years, and that there’s a general societal consensus about certain types of clothing that is different from the consensus of middle-schoolers about those same things. (They also need to realize that the clothing a 13-year-old girl reads as “Cool! This looks like something Miley Cyrus would wear” really translates to “Hi, I’m All About My Boobs” or whatever.)

    In short, it’s all about communication. With my three girls, I’ve had varying degrees of success, but I keep harping on it so at least they’re aware.

    July 2, 2008
  34. Okay, Anne, I’ll come on. I just don’t want to see the kids blamed, manipulated or controlled. Let them express themselves freely, as long
    as there is a line of decency, it’s better than causing them to rail against the status quo for the rest of their lives without knowing why they do what they do, lost and rejected.

    And I would like to see a lot less judgment put onto people. As long as I am not getting beaten or slandered, I’m okay with just about everyone. If I were to judge people, there is a physics prof from one of my colleges, who smells, hair is whatever, pants are wrinkled, coffee as strong as godzilla, in one hand and a cigar in the other. But, the man has a heart of gold, a mind like a steel trap, and a memory that will not quit. He is a saint, a scholar and a phenomena. In fact, I know lots of people like that.

    And I know just as many who are dressed well, couldn’t think their way out of a twinkie, and will kick you when you are down faster than you can say, “Devil in a Blue Dress.”

    I’ll take my physics professor anyday, and twice on Sunday.

    Don’t forget, many of the past years fashions included bare midriff and
    short shorts, as far back as the 40s.

    July 2, 2008
  35. Griff Wigley said:

    In today’s Nfld News, NHS principal Joel Leer explains the new dress code:

    First, students will be expected to choose clothing items that cover all undergarments…

    Second, students will be expected to cover their breasts…

    Third, sagging pants will not be allowed at school…

    Finally, in weather that allows students to wear shorts…

    July 2, 2008
  36. Randy Jennings said:

    Am I alone in wishing that the principal of the high school would spend his time and attention on issues of the quality of teaching and learning, the inexcusably large classes sizes and other academic concerns, instead of worrying about imposing a dress code?

    July 3, 2008
  37. Curt Benson said:

    Randy, how about this idea? Get a combination drug/cleavage sniffing dog.

    Remember Supt Richardson’s “nocturnal drug dog search” which was implemented last fall? With no pesky students, student’s belongs or vehicles on the school’s premises to interfere with the dog’s mission, we were comforted to learn that there were no drugs present in our unoccupied school. No further searches were indicated.

    Conduct the cleavage sniffing dog search at night also. I’m no scientist, but I bet there will be no cleavage found in Northfield’s unoccupied school, at night.

    July 3, 2008
  38. I wish I was done here, but I wonder

    what the punishment is for not following the dress code, and

    2)whether anyone knows if this code is constitutional, especially since no one seems to be actually showing what Monty Pythoners call “the naughty bits.”

    July 3, 2008
  39. Anne Bretts said:

    Randy, the idea that a principal even has to explain to parents that wearing exposed underwear is inappropriat indicates that these families have a long way to go before they are ready to address their children’s academic concerns. I hate dress codes, and principals who go to court over a pair of saggy pants know they are in a game they can’t win. But principals also are caught in a dilemma with students and employees, where men teachers and students are made to feel extremely uncomfortable with the overtly sexual dress and behavior of some of their students. It can be considered a hostile environment for them.
    And if you think ‘good’ parents will handle their kids, I remember a principal in Duluth who called some good parents when their honor student son popped open a beer at the homecoming bonfire on school grounds. The parents screamed at the principal for ruining the boy’s fun and insisted the problem was that the principal didn’t have a sense of humor.
    I’m sure the principal would love to address academic concerns…but he has little ability to do anything about them. This is policy, not execution.
    Many of those large class sizes are due to the attempt to appease parents by offering more course options than the state funds. The state financing formula is based on a six-period day. If you offer seven periods, the extra classes up the average size. If Northfield has seven periods, it needs to be honest about the trade-off.

    July 3, 2008
  40. kiffi summa said:

    Having had kids in school in the early seventies, I know that at that time dress codes became ILLEGAL, much to the consternation of some schools.

    Knowing the growing conservatism of the ( at the moment not-so ) Supreme Court, it would not surprise me if dress codes would again become legal, if they’ve not already done so.

    Have to agree with you Randy; there is so much that needs attention in our school system, that it seems almost a dereliction of “duty” to focus on such an annoying, but ultimately unimportant issue.

    July 3, 2008
  41. David Henson said:

    A new splinter group of Muslims in Saudi Arabia has declared that the Wahabbi sect, considered strict by many people, is actually promoting lasciviousness and immoral Western values.

    Though the customary burkas worn by women in these countries cover all of the body except for the eyes, a new group of imams have decried the garment for showing too much.

    “Women were found to be winking!” said Sheikh Fahd.

    They have ruled that in order to prevent “immodesty” and winking, women will have to wear new burkas that cover all but one eye. “This way, if they wink, it will look like a blink,” the Imam declared.


    July 3, 2008
  42. Randy Jennings said:

    Anne, I’m not sure why you would think underage drinking and an exposed bra strap or boxer shorts are equivalent. The former is illegal, the latter arguably sleazy or sloppy, but not illegal. At least not yet. Surely Mr. Leer, Mr. Richardson and the school board can find better things to do with their time than attempt to restore Victorian values. The district has plenty of pressing problems that deserve their attention.

    Ross, in the capital plan thread you decry the attention paid to this “sleazewear” thread, and the seeming lack of interest in the CIP issues. If this thread had remained focused on questions of taste and personal choices, I wouldn’t much care how kids dress, or whether it annoys their parents or other people. If they want to look sloppy or sleazy or combine polka dots, checks and stripes, that’s between the kids and their parents.

    But when the school district decides to impose a subjective standard of what is “appropriate” dress, I think it is worth speaking up to say that, in my opinion, unless there’s a safety issue, school leaders need to refocus on educational issues, and not try to legislate taste. Exposed underwear does not rise to the level of a safety issue.

    July 3, 2008
  43. Anne Bretts said:

    Randy, I’m not equating alcohol with sleazewear, just pointing out that idiotic parents are failing their kids and making life difficult for even the most open-minded school officials. No principal wants to think about ‘wardrobe malfunctions,’ but some of the clothes I’ve seen on young girls are more than sloppy.
    My mom had to bring a change of clothes three times to my public high school after I got caught wearing skirts that were too short. And I’m old enough to remember nuns at my junior high making us kneel to make sure our skirts touched the ground — and two minutes later we rolled the waistbands again to make them shorter. Wearing pants to school wasn’t even part of the discussion.
    Of course, standards change. But I hope we’re talking about real extremes and not just adult power trips. I’m not upset about an inch of cotton boxers, or even some ridiculously baggy pants. But thongs and lace bras can be really distracting in a school setting, just as they would be in church or at work.
    I think having a rack of school sweatshirts in the principal’s office would be a simple solution. Nobody has to change clothes, nobody has to go home, nobody is embarrassed, nobody has grounds to sue. Any overexposed flesh just gets covered up with a good dose of school spirit.
    Fine restaurants have handled the situation discreetly for years with a rack of sport coats. The sweatshirts could be an reasonable answer to what is, I hope, a few isolated incidents.

    July 3, 2008
  44. Jane Moline said:


    I respectfully disagree. I think if your daughter was dressing like a …..trollop (which I know she does not) you would have, at the very least, a discussion regarding what has happened to her good taste.

    Victoria Secret, Abercrombie, etc., are attempting to market to very young shoppers–and many parents have left the scene, throwing up their hands and giving their little darlings want they want. (Which is not usually good parenting.)

    As a result, everyone else gets to suffer. When a 24- year- old wears her thong underwear showing above her low-rider jeans, it is simply roll-your-eyes disgusting. When it is a 16-year-old in school with your 17 year-old son, or a 12-year-old, it is a bit more perverted.

    Girls are being taught, through repeated media exposure, that they must be sexy–if you remember the Jon Benet Ramsey videos, it was discomforting to see a little girl tarted up to appear sexually appealing, including using a hip-wriggle when she strutted on stage.

    And parents seem to ignore this “sexification” of their children.

    When our teenagers get to high-school and they are fully loaded and ready for sex, they are bombarded in the halls by girls dressed in a sexually provacative manner.

    It is reasonable for the school to expect students to dress in a respectful manner. We take it for granted that schools ban gang-identification clothing and scarves. They ban provocative T-shirts with inappropriate language. Because parents cannot seem to get a handle on their children’s attire, they need to step in and explain some ground rules on covering up your underwear (it is, after all, underwear.)

    This is not something to scream “free-speech” over. It is one where we should be joining the administration in saying: Obviously, it is reasonable to expect our students to dress decently for school, and we support this effort. (As Anne said so well.)

    I see this “slut wear” issue as a result of a goal to marginalize women–as long as they are seen as “bimbos” and sex-objects, men can marginalize them in their marriages and in the work place. I know that most men do not feel this way-I just think our society has a long way to go to equality, and having our girls dressed like hookers when they go to school is not in their best interest.

    July 3, 2008
  45. Randy Jennings said:

    Sorry, Anne and Jane. While I understand your well-spoken points of view, I don’t agree that we need to join the administration in attempting to arbitrate taste. David Henson’s post #42 shows where this path leads. If you think that level of extremism couldn’t happen here, you’re dreaming.

    It may seem like a trivial example, but I distinctly remember my father telling me that my high school hair-do (a frizzy pony-tail) looked stupid, and that people didn’t take kids who looked like hippies seriously. That said, he didn’t choose to fight about it; he merely pointed it out. Thirty-odd years later I can appreciate both his opinion and his wisdom. When I see those photos, I cringe in embarrassment and suffer the ridicule of my own teenagers (although at the time I thought I was right in line with fashion, and now I’d love to have a little of that hair back). But, my father was wise enough to understand that it was just hair, and that styles would eventually change.

    If kids make aesthetic choices we don’t like, why do we feel the need to fight about them? Fashions change, and to a certain extent it is the job of a teenager to push their parents’ — and their principals’ — buttons. If we adults don’t let kids rebel over little things, harmless things — like dressing sloppy or sleazy, like wearing goofy (to us) looking hair, like (gasp) skateboarding on city streets, then we really risk squandering whatever authority we have to intervene on more serious or dangerous matters.

    July 4, 2008
  46. Why I agree that some fashion fads just look stupid and should be avoided,
    kids want to experiment with their expression and their bodies. Foster a good relationship between the kids and their bodies. Show them the healthy things they can do and let them go for it. Nothing is more beautiful than the girls and boys who fly across the high bars in the Olympic games. Graceful, strong and poised and wearing the tightest possible clothing. Yet, we don’t have a problem there, or do we?

    Anyway, I agree with Randy. There is too much responsibility placed on teachers and administrators to raise kids. Parents, you raise your own children and let the educators deliver the knowledge they have in the arts, earth sciences, math and so forth…it’s a big enough job to have…although it may not always appear so, I know…let them do the specialized work they do.

    There is no replacement for what kids learn or don’t learn from their parents. None. No one can walk into and fill the space of an absent parent, so don’t expect it. No one can influence a child like a parent can.
    And nobody’s words will be remembered like yours will.

    July 4, 2008
  47. I do agree with Randy it seems more than I thought. I hadn’t read his last post until after I posted mine. Pretty similar!

    July 4, 2008
  48. Anne Bretts said:

    Randy, I agree with you 99 percent of the way. I’m fine with frizzy pony tails, body piercings, tattoos, baggy pants, marijuana leaf designs on t-shirts — bad taste is just fine with me. It’s the only time in life when you really can experiment and figure out your own personal style.
    And I hope that the principal’s note was just that, one of many notes sent home outlining suggestions to help make life easier at school.
    I can see that baseball caps with brims can make it very hard for a teacher to see faces, but it would seem just making people take them off in the building would be fine.
    My single concern was with an amount nudity that would be truly inappropriate and could be construed as a hostile work environment for employees.
    I do think putting the dress code in the paper is a bit strong, (although this is a very small town and that’s what very small towns do to get info to parents).
    I agree, Randy, that we don’t need kids suspended for hat violations or bra straps. We don’t need a remake of all the bad movie comedies of smart-ass kids torturing control-freak principals. We don’t need lawsuits and television crews here to watch the circus. I was just suggesting that a sweatshirt for truly egregious displays of teen cleavage might be a discreet way of dealing with the matter.
    And Ross, I believe we’re talking about this because there is no good solution for the city’s financial problems and people are just too frustrated to deal with them right now. It’s the reason that as a nation we are more interested in Brangelina’s twins being born into a mansion in France than all the millions of children dying of starvation and disease around the world.

    July 4, 2008
  49. Jane Moline said:

    Our kids are not rebelling if they don’t have any rules to rebel against.

    July 4, 2008
  50. Jane Moline said:

    I regret that comment–Randy, your pony tail in high school and “hippie-phobia treatement” cannot compare to the treatment of women in this society and the continuing assault on their rights and ability to be treated equally.

    All of you who think that dressing up in a manner that emphasizes your breasts and legs and puts them in the forefront (pun intended) has not spent much time in the real WORKING world.

    These girls fail to use good judgement in their attire, their parents are unable or unwilling to do anything about it, and we have the job of educating them.

    All of you who are so tolerant of everyone’s clothing choices need to take a big, adult size step back and ask yourselves “If I was hiring this person for a teller job in a bank or an office job in my office or an important executive position, what would I think if they came to the interview dressed like that?”

    Yeah, if they want a career at Hooters I guess they are dressed appropriately.

    If they came to school in a bikini or just their underwear, we might have agreement that they had gone too far. The school administration has drawn a line saying what is socially acceptable. You might disagree, but where is your limit? And does your limit really take into consideration compassion for that person or your libertarian view?

    The critisizms of my comments seemed to suggest that I am some kind of prude that is intent on forcing my views on others. My concern is that these girls are attempting to follow what they think is fashion without realizing that they are judged constantly by society –regardless of the denials in this blog, and that society thinks that women do not deserve equal pay, equal rights or equal protection. When our young women are encouraged to dress inappropriately, they fall into the stereotype arm-candy depiction of women.

    To say that it does not or should not matter what they wear ignores that it does and will matter to many, many people. To say that all of those people are not important also ignores that they do and may someday matter to these girls–so either you encourage them to dress in a sexually provacative matter or you stand by and do nothing to prevent them from being marginalized by society. I think we should be providing dress guideline for students and enforcing them in a reasonable manner.

    July 5, 2008
  51. Holly Cairns said:

    Jane said:

    Victoria Secret, Abercrombie, etc., are attempting to market to very young shoppers–and many parents have left the scene, throwing up their hands and giving their little darlings want they want. (Which is not usually good parenting.)

    Well, I am sure they said similar things when the hem was raised above the ankle.

    I am repulsed by this statement:

    “throwing up their hands and giving their little darlings want they want.”

    Ridiculous! I bet you, Jane, don’t show your ankles. But, if you do, maybe you are one that gives your darlings what they want?

    Men have been showing their chests for years. Women can wear bathing suits.

    As a former teacher, the hat rule makes the most sense to me.

    I taught in a district that banned hats (and was VERY conservative on many points, even to the point of me being asked to teach creationism, which might or might not have been a district policty then) and was really glad to see the eyes of the boys I was teaching when they said “No hats.” The eyes tell a thousand stories, and I was better able to reach those I could see.

    Anyway, this topic irks me. We are afraid of women in this society, or what?

    And, who named you all God of what is acceptible clothing? Did you start this topic, Griff? What’s your opinion of early native american clothing? You must think that all native american women were showing too much.

    July 5, 2008
  52. Too much emphasis on attire and not nearly enough on courage, conviction, bravery, ability, creativity, honor, honesty, loyalty, kindness, and any other delightful quality that makes a human someone to admire…way too much emphasis.

    Teach the children these things and the rest will take care of itself.

    July 5, 2008
  53. William Siemers said:

    Maybe school uniforms would solve the problem…at least when the kids are in school. I think uniforms make sense on a lot of levels.

    Outside of school…Getting teens and pre-teens to display an appropriate appearance can be a challenge for parents. Fashion is fun for kids…It’s been fun since they were 1 year olds and were cooed over by adults admiring their new outfits. Then they get a few years older and also want the admiration of their friends. A few more years go by and it seems like they most distinclty do NOT want adults to admire their appearance. This is a time in life that fashion probably reaches its most important level…when there is, as Bright states, …”too much emphasis on attire”. The fact that this stage almost always coincides with puberty can lead to a level of ‘sexualized’ fashion. And as been mentioned here, it’s been that way for a long time.

    But it’s the kids who have too much emphasis on attire. Parents are just trying to moderate their behavior. That’s what parents do.

    July 6, 2008
  54. David Henson said:

    This is a sleazy blog issue. I don’t think “sleaze” when I look at that barbie. The idea that Griff or Jane or Anne get to define appropriate clothing (Griff no offense but given the option most would choose 100 out of 100 times to look at the barbie over you). I am really not sure from where this angst derives (perhaps personal sexual frustration) – but if you are cloaking harsh judgment of teens in Christian morals then perhaps look more to ideals of charity, love and understanding. Adults referring to teens as sleazy is “just plain sleazy.”

    July 6, 2008
  55. john george said:

    I still think this whole thing is a two way street. I taught my daughters that we men, including their brother, are naturally aroused by a lot of exposure of female flesh. So the wise thing to do is keep that exposure to a minimum. This knowledge helped them in their decisions about how to dress. This isn’t sleaze. It is just common observation. I refer to it as not defrauding another individual. It might also be put into the Christian concept of not setting a stumbling block in front of another. I don’t think this is harsh judgement, David. It is showing understanding and respect for the opposite sex. I do think there has been too much self exaltation in this whole area in our society. The idea that I could be offended by some woman’s attire sets up the whole argument that they have a right to self expression and can choose to dress however they want. I am then accused of infringing upon their rights and, God forbid!, proposing censorship. I suppose they can do this, but I think it demonstrates a severe lack of understanding and respect for others. But, then, this virtue seems to be disappearing from our society on many levels.

    July 6, 2008
  56. David Henson said:

    John – it’s a free country and you can be offended by whatever you choose. And you can base your beliefs on untested logic; what did you tell your boys ?, did the girls play soccer ? A discussion of attire or teen attire is reasonable but starting out calling it “sleazewear” is immature and no more fair the than starting the discussion referring to “uptight prudewear.” BTW – that Barbie has more coverage than a Northfield girls soccer uniform so I don’t think ‘flesh exposure ratio’ is the core concern.

    July 7, 2008
  57. john george said:

    David- You are correct in your analysis of being offended. I agree with you. Offenses are most often subjective in basis, but I don’t think you understood my point. I was only laying out a sequence of arguments that I have actually experienced that lead to the accusations. That is why I labeled it a lack of understanding and respect for others to wear whatever you want to and to heck with what other people say about it. I think it is called hedonism. When discussions are suppressed out of a fear of violations of rights of expression, then I think we do ourselves a bad turn in trying to foster understanding relationships. Communication is tantamount to understanding one another.

    As far as what I told my son, I told him the same truth- he will be naturally atttracted to and arroused by the exposed female figure. For him, it was a learning of self control and how to divert your eyes. The other thing I taught him is that girls are attracted to men who will listen to and interact with them. This can be a snare for many young women, especially if they do not have a good relationship with their fathers. There are young men who will exploit this need and draw young women into a dependent relationship. They used to be referred to as players. I have no idea what the current term is, but the behavior has been around for quite some time. I taught him to recognize his peers, male and female, for who they are and not to do this.

    My son played soccer. I only had one daughter who was involved in sports- volleyball. This was at a conservative Baptist private school in Owatonna, so I think you can imagine the level of dress standards required there. As far as the flesh exposure ratio in relationship to male attractions to it, I believe it is the core of what we are talking about. I prefer not to label it “sleazewear”, either, but that is Griff’s term. I think it is best to understand how we are wired and make decisions/standards from there. To deny we are made a certain way, I believe, is to bury our heads in the sand.

    July 7, 2008
  58. I wonder if they took into account that people’s arms and torsos are different lengths? (Sorry, my forte’ is classical sculpture and I naturally tend to think people in terms of length, width, height and shape.)

    From the Northfield News article…

    shorts and skirts for men and women must extend past students’ fingertips when they lower their arms to their sides.

    July 16, 2008

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