Posted by: Deborah Drezon Carroll | June 25, 2010

Should You Fight With Your Daughters About How They Dress?

Could your 8-year-old be on the cover of a Girls Gone Wild DVD? Or, more specifically, should your 8-year-old look like the cover of a Girls Gone Wild DVD?

Miley Cyrus said, in a recent interview, “I’m trying not to be too slutty.” Too slutty??? Just how slutty should a young girl be aiming to be?

We always tell parents to “pick the battles,” they want to fight, meaning that you should only battle with your kids on things that matter most to you so that you can let your daughters feel like they have some autonomy. Giving kids independence and autonomy to choose some things helps them to grow into making their own decisions with confidence. In our house, we didn’t much legislate what they wore or how they cut their hair. We did outlaw tattoos and we legislated piercings. (which didn’t make Shira happy when she wanted to pierce her nose and we said she had to wait until she was 18). We wanted the girls to be stylish and fashionable if that mattered to them but we didn’t want them to look slutty, not just “not too slutty”, we were actually going for not slutty at all.

Girls, what do you think of today’s little girl styles? How would you want kids to dress? Do you remember us telling you what to wear?

Shira writes:
In the middle school I work at, girls are constantly getting in trouble for their clothing, especially now that the weather has gotten much warmer. They come to school in teeny tiny tank tops and minute shorts; then they are sent to the principal’s office to choose from a selection of giant t-shirts to cover themselves up. It’s not necessarily their fault. Some of their mothers are just as bad, since they are the ones taking them shopping.

I don’t really remember being told what to wear, but I was so self-conscious I was too embarrassed to wear tank tops until I was about 15 years old. I never really felt the need to dress “slutty.” I was more interested in looking punk rock, and was actually once accused of dressing like a boy (I went through a tie-wearing phase). Nothing to really worry about there.

Alexis Writes:

I also wasn’t secure enough to look slutty. To be blunt, I didn’t think I was hot enough to wear certain things. I work with little kids so I don’t often see clothes I think are inappropriate. Most of the time I am asking the students where they got something because I think it’s cute. I remember wanting certain labels for clothes and not necessarily being told that I couldn’t wear them but that if I wanted them I would be buying them with my own money. Personally, I think it’s pretty hypocritical for Miley Cyrus to be stating she doesn’t want to be too slutty and then walking around with no underwear on. That’s pretty slutty, not to mention unsanitary. I think the best thing moms can do is to be a model for their daughters. If you’re dressed appropriately, then your kids will follow a similar suit. We want to be careful that we allow our kids to feel like they have the freedom to choose for themselves. Their choices of things in life they can control are limited, so their clothing is something they have control over. Teach them how to shop carefully and to choose things they like, not just what others are wearing. Show them it can be a way of expressing who they are, but that it doesn’t have to be their only form of expression. And for god’s sake tell them some form of underwear is necessary.

Tamra Writes:

I never wore anything inappropriate when I was younger, either. Unless you considered fur and sequins inappropriate (which many did at the time). I wanted to wear clothes that were fun. I also don’t remember ever feeling like I couldn’t wear something because I would get in trouble. I did worry about wearing things that I thought were too expensive, but not because I thought they were inappropriate, just because I had to pay for those. I think Miley is a hypocrite as well. Especially since she’s the one saying she’s the only one wearing “kicks” amongst all the stilettos. And maybe they don’t wear underwear at Nashville parties, but I think if you’re not trying to look too slutty, underwear is a good start. The girls in the third grade class that I teach usually wear things that are pretty cute, because they are still young. I think parents should be careful about what they let their little girls wear. You don’t want them to feel like they have to wear clothes that are revealing in order for them to be okay. There are plenty of really cute clothes that are age appropriate out there. Once a girl in my class and I were wearing the same shirt…



  1. Labels and certain stores were the source of contention for me as a daughter and later as a mom with my own. I had a hard time finding appropriate clothes for my daughter when aged 10… it was the height of the belly shirt and B. Spears showing her all together. How was I to respond when all the sizes of shirts ended at the midriff and the largest was size 2? I see the little girls now and know they make better clothes for them but larger sizes are still a problem for moms and daughters alike. I do agree, underwear is necessary to avoid the “slutty” category. It is amazing what the designers make for our girls and what the stars wear. Thankfully my daughter is now a modest 15 years and we have resolved the size dilemma by making the clothes she wears.

  2. Making the clothes! What a wonderful mom and daughter activity. I used to sew when I was a teen but it’s been so long, I’m sure I don’t remember how. Now, it’s just curtains for me!

  3. So much of it has to do with the social climate the girls are in. In our neighborhood school, there isn’t a push to dress slutty, but there is tremendous pressure to wear ‘labeled’ clothing (Uggs, etc.) – in 4th grade! Until now, we have done lots of hand-me-downs from neighborhood kids and let the girls choose most of their own clothing – matching or not, so that they can express their personalities, but there’s definitely a storm coming.

    So far, our biggest headache has been deciding whether or not they’re allowed to wear bikinis on vacation. At ages 10 and 8, we’ve decided that the tankini is good enough.

  4. I know, I can’t believe those little girls have shoes that cost more than $100. What are these parents thinking? Don’t they know they’ll grow out of those? If I spend $100 on shoes (and that’s quite rare), I’ll be wearing them for the next 20 years! What comes next for these little girls? How do you go up from that?

  5. i am in total agreeance with ‘not too slutty’ is not an option. ‘not slutty AT ALL’ with a ‘NO TOLERANCE’ policy will be instated if the need arises! however, my little on is only four, so we have no issues on the subject yet 😉
    p.s. found you through sits!

  6. I am so glad you found us and thanks for stopping by. Four is a good age, they’re cute and funny and not snarky at all. Sigh, some days I miss that. 🙂

  7. This is a tough one at my house – my girls are 8 and 12. They have completely different body types too – which makes it worse! The oldest needs to wear those awful 1/2 sizes (really? Do they have to still call them husky or plus?) and the little one needs slims. Ugh! There just aren’t enough choices for either extreme, but mostly for the oldest. Shirts are too tight, skirts are too short, and juniors are too grown-up. Perhaps I need to dust off my sewing machine and see what I can come up with.

  8. Our oldest has long struggled with being the “big” sister. She’s not really big but the other two are skinny minis. It’s hard. Your daughter probably feels it whenever you go shopping. I know mine did. We just kept going and when we did find something that looked good and felt good, we tried to find others by the same manufacturer. Once she’s a big older and the junior clothes aren’t too mature, it’ll get a little easier. Also, then she’ll be able to wear some women’s clothes (not just kids stuff) and that helps, too.

  9. I was also not hot enough to dress like that haha. I did get a bit sluttier when I first moved here to Cancun (I thought I just looked “beachy” at the time), but I’ve calmed down since my first 6 months haha.

    My middle sister always got in trouble for letting her bra straps show. My mom HATED that.

    We also were only allowed to get 1 piercing in each ear, until we were graduated from college and supporting ourselves. My middle sister got an eyebrow ring when she graduated college, and my mom cried haha.

    • I’m with your mom. I didn’t cry but I didn’t love Shira’s nose ring. Plus, with her allergies, it only lasted a month!

  10. I think it’s so interesting that both Alexis and Shira said they weren’t secure enough to dress slutty. I don’t know about you, but when I see a girl looking super slutty, or even just plain slutty I don’t think to myself, “Wow, that girl looks like she’s really secure.”
    I think it’s so funny that as young women in high school or even in our 20s (30s 40s 50s whenever), when we don’t like something about our bodies it makes us feel insecure about ourselves as whole people (GUILTY!). What is up with that? I think I’m awesome, I know I’m a smart girl, I think I play well with others… but Lord help me if I’m feeling fat one day – all those rational thoughts go right in the dumper. Somehow MTV (or whatever) creeps into our subconscious and statements like “I wasn’t secure enough to dress like a slut” come out – that doesn’t make any sense at all.
    Girls. We’re weird.

    (I told you I’d be snooping around – the more I’m reading the more I’m loving! Scored yourselves a new follower!)

    • You are insightful. I never saw it quite this way but I’m on your wave length now and you make a lot of sense. Thanks for following us. We look forward to more of your insights.

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