So, Shona Sibery, writing at the Daily Mail, has a gorgeous 14 year old daughter, who decided that she would hold her birthday celebration at the local community center, where the party guests would have a group dance lesson and then, have their nails painted fancy colors with lots of glitter polish involved and then, under adult supervision, have a day time dance party. Shona sat down with Flo, and together they went through her Facebook friends and created an invitation and a guest list, making certain that parents were available to help organize and supervise. Flo picked out a new routine jacket and some warm-up wear and new trainers to wear, and all the girls had a great time.
Oh, wait. Nope. That’s not what happened.
Flo decided to hold her party at a DISCO and invited 40 people, both boys and girls and then kitted herself out as a prostitute, and her mother’s response to that was to DRINK MORE WINE and let it pass because Flo was just so excited! Shona knew that Flo should NOT be leaving the house looking like that, that Flo would likely face some repercussions, had no real understanding of how her appearance would be interpreted, and that Flo is just a little girl in a grown woman’s body. Flo forgot to close her Facebook page, which is apparently private in Shona’s house, and Shona was floored to see that her predictions had come true. Flo was being “slut-shamed” for dressing like, well, a slut.
And Shona’s response? She’s blaming the “cyber-bullies”, of course. Not herself for being a shit mother who threw her daughter to the wolves because being a parent is just too troublesome when the child in question is headstrong and lacks any real understanding of how the world works.
And where, pray tell, is Flo’s father? What man in his right mind lets his 14 year old daughter leave the house to go to a disco with 40 “friends”, dressed like a hooker? I’m guessing Flo’s father is nowhere to be seen, and hasn’t been for a long while. Flo’s outfit is a scream for male attention, and that poor little girl got the attention, all right, but it wasn’t the kind she anticipated.
The article at the Daily Mail directly references Sabrina (remember her?), blaming Sabrina for this terrible culture of “slut-shaming” that Flo has been unpredictably and inexplicably caught up in. How rich is that? Shona, a grown bloody woman, is blaming another young woman for the fact that Flo faced a little social consequences for her very ill-advised sartorial choices. Gold hot pants? Really, Shona? Are you fucking mad?
Shona, here is some advice for you:
Mom up! You don’t get to chug wine and stand by and watch your daughter exercise very poor judgement about what constitutes appropriate clothing for a 14 year old! “The answer is NO, Flo! Full fucking stop. Go upstairs and change or you are not leaving the house. End of fucking story”. Will she whine and cry and hate you and storm away all raging in a veil of tears? Probably. Too fucking bad. YOU are the mother. How did she come to possess these clothes in the first place? You should never, ever have let Flo get to the point where she feels like challenging her mother is a good call. But you’re here now, and Flo is going to be in for a world of teenage hurt if you don’t put a stop to this. You are NOT her friend. You are her mother, and it is your JOB to protect her, even from herself. So do it. Jesus.
Facebook is not private! Not for 14 year olds. No way. Flo is adding you to her friends list TODAY and you will both agree on a password and she will understand that you WILL be reading everything she posts and responding as her MOTHER to any bullshit anyone else posts on her wall. Will she get teased for that? Yep. Probably. Too fucking bad. You would rather have her face being called a slut? She is 14! And you are her mother. You make the rules, and you enforce them, and if other kids are left to swing in the winds by their own parents, that doesn’t concern you. Flo is your daughter. She has no idea what she is doing, but you bloody well do. Until she has good judgement of her own, you will exercise judgement on her behalf. How do you think she’s going to learn good judgement if you don’t show any?
She needs role models. What music is she listening to? What images has she pinned on Pinterest? What magazines and books are lying around her room? What movies does she go to? None of these things are the sole province of 14 year old girls to decide. As her mother, it is your job to shepherd her through a complicated culture that promotes the early sexualization of young women, without being explicit about consequences and dangers. You have to make those things explicit. “Flo that outfit strongly implies that you are sexually active. It may not be fair to make assumptions about other people’s sexuality based on what they are wearing, but life isn’t fair, baby. Learn that now! And go change your clothes.” You need to be involved, deeply involved, in your daughter’s life right now.
Your exact words: Quite simply, my daughter looked like she was far more sexually aware than she actually is. But I just didn’t have the courage, or the heart, to lecture her about the dangers of dressing this way just 30 minutes before the start of her long-awaited party and in front of her friends.
You didn’t have the heart? Oh, but you do have the heart to watch her being called a slut on social media? For fuck’s sake, Shona. You suck at this mothering thing. It is your JOB to lecture her about the dangers of dressing that way! You KNOW there are dangers. You don’t throw your daughter under the bus because you simply can’t be bothered to take a stand. Who gives a fuck what her friends think?
If something bad happens, it’s your fault! Oh yes, my dear. You KNOW that bad things can happen to 14 year old girls who spend the night at a disco with 40 “friends”, dressed like a Victoria’s Secret model. And if one of those “friends” happens to bring a fifth of vodka for the birthday girl, something bad is very likely to happen. And that will be your fault, Mommy Dearest. This is the real world, not some Disney fairytale. You are responsible for that little girl who thinks she’s all grown up now. She’s not. And you can stop blaming other KIDS for being assholes. Teenagers are assholes, full stop. This is not exactly breaking news. It’s YOUR job to protect your child from those assholes, and make certain she isn’t engaging in any assholery herself.
Put the hotpants away until she understands what they say. There is nothing wrong with hotpants. Nothing whatsoever. Why JudgyBitch has a pair herself! I also understand what message I convey when I wear them, and I know how to deflect attention that I don’t want but fully understand I am going to get. Flo is nowhere near old enough to do either of those things: understand or deflect. She is a striking girl who understands that her beauty has power, but she doesn’t really know what that power consists of, or how she can use it safely. You admit that you weren’t much of a looker yourself, and that’s sad, but it in no way excuses you from coaching Flo to understand the power of beauty. Beauty sends a signal, and that signal can be mixed. Not everyone who sees Flo parading around in hotpants and a sheer shirt will also understand that she is a little girl playing dress-up. She may not understand it herself.
But you do. Flo will face the consequences of your refusal to face her down, and take a stand. She will pay the price for your total lack of concern for her well-being. Is that what you want?
I doubt it. I’ll say it again: you are not her FRIEND. You are her mother. Your first job is to protect her. The next time she wants to wear hotpants out of the house, tell her “Sure. As long as you’re dressed like Lara Croft and you know how to kick some ass”. Then enroll her in mixed martial arts classes. Every girl should know how to use a chokehold.
That’s just common sense.
Lots of love,