What I Am is What I Am

Well, friends, are you sick of hearing about my ongoing existential crisis yet? I’m certainly tired of having it. But don’t worry—the cavalry is coming. Therapists! Doctors! Masseuses! Buddhist authors of self-help books! If I just pay enough expert professionals to help me solve my problems, it will all turn out okay. Maybe my ever-present headache will finally dissipate.

Meanwhile, I have received the annual communication from the school that arrives on the first warm spring day. This year, the new Assistant Principal tried to hit a light-hearted, funny, and gender-neutral note, but the underlying message hasn’t changed: Don’t let your daughters come to school dressed like sluts.

I mean, I get it. I don’t like to see 12-year-old girls wearing shorts that don’t cover their butts either. I don’t like it when I see grown men ogling young girls in butt-revealing shorts. I don’t like it that young girls view butt-revealing shorts as a path to peer- and self-esteem. I especially don’t like it when I take my own middle schooler to the store and find that butt-revealers are the only options being offered in the girls’ department.

Actually, though, my youngest is now the size of a skinny grown-up. She’s taller than I am. Her preferred warm-weather garb is a pair of knee-length cargo shorts from the boys’ department and a loose cotton t-shirt. I am glad, so very glad, that she hangs her identity on something other than the quantity of skin she can display.

It’s not because I forbade butt-revealers. She never wanted to wear them. She wants to be comfortable and she wants to have pockets to carry stuff. So you can stop lecturing me, Assistant Principal, because my daughter’s clothes are as modest as you could hope for in these debauched modern times.

And I can’t get all that worked up about the other girls wearing short shorts and spaghetti straps to school. Maybe we should stop attaching so much meaning to the bra strap showing under the tank top of a girl who wants to feel the sun on her shoulders. This is Seattle. They need the vitamin D, okay?




5 thoughts on “What I Am is What I Am

  1. hahahaha! I’m sure they do!

    It’s a fine line between dressed and undressed.

    Culturally, we’re a mess. On the one hand, we have hyper-sexualized boys (and men) and some girls struggling to fit into that paradigm and other girls struggling against that paradigm and others just wanting to wear whatever they want without worrying about males. Ain’t it great to be a parent?

    One side of my family has a long history of trusting in professionals. I have decided to follow that tradition for once (at least for the time being.) Why take all the pressure on ourselves?

  2. So, the short shorts. The super short, butt-revealing shorts are a problem for me. My daughter is tall, skinny and leggy. When she wears the shorts they sell at GAP, she looks like an 8 year-old slut, and I look like a permissive and possibly morally vacuous parent. But GAP is close and cheap and that’s where I shop. We have bike shorts for her to wear under the shorts. They look ridiculous, because the shorts are made out of jeans and they’re tiny, and the bike shorts are made out of cotton and go to her knees, but whatevs. I don’t make the clothes, I just buy them. I feel like tiny shorts for children should go out of style. I don’t understand why they’re still in style. I don’t. Do not understand. They don’t look good on adult women, either, if they are adult women past 35 or so and they are not celebrities. No WAY will my daughter wear shorts from the boys’ department. This gendered approach to clothes is not coming from me. But then again, my daughter has brothers, so one can understand her desire to differentiate. Nerve. You hit one.

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