Discomfort w parents thoughts on "short clothes"

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iloveeveryone
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Discomfort w parents thoughts on "short clothes"

Unread post by iloveeveryone »

I don't like the way my parents don't want me wearing clothes they think are "short".
My father implies that to have males not look at me sexually, I should wear clothes that don't show "too much" skin.
For example once when I wore a dress they didn't agree with, my father said "I know how boys think, they stare and stuff" to support his argument that I should wear longer clothes so I don't have to go through anything like that.

Basically, once in a while I wear something they don't agree with and it ends badly for me because I hate how they think, irrespective of whether I give in and wear something else instead or not, both outcomes make me cry.

I have not discussed these discussions I keep having with myself with anyone else, until now! What I would like to ask you is, what should my opinion be about this?

Some options I think about are:
1. Wear whatever I want when I am 18 and wear clothes they agree with until then (my mother used to say this sometimes, these days it seems like she doesn't mind what I wear, but I know my father does)
2. Ignore their feelings about this from now on and wear whatever I think is fine for a situation
3. "Respect their opinion" and "not make elders uncomfortable" and wear "good" clothes whenever I am with my parents (and with any people who think like that, which is most adults in my immediate and extended family) for the rest of my life

I am aware of the arguments that doing this to girls and women promotes rape culture, and I agree, but whenever I want to bring this up in this permanent debate with my dad, it just doesn't seem to apply and he's saying something else entirely and I can't find a place to add that to what I am saying.

Thank you so much, Scarleteen, for helping all of us!!
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Urna
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Re: Discomfort w parents thoughts on "short clothes"

Unread post by Urna »

Hello iloveeveryone,

I'm sorry that you're surrounded by this super upsetting mindset, and that the right outlet for making your position clear never seems to appear when you're talking to your dad about it.

Instead of telling you what your opinion about this should be, I want to point out to you that you've already reached the non-patriarchal standpoint that seems most freeing to you personally, which is that you should be free to wear whatever you want, regardless of how other people react to it. In my experience, this often leads to tensions with family members who think the way your family members do, if they're unwilling to sit down and listen to my arguments about why their mindset is problematic and why I don't subscribe to it. If the adults in your life aren't open to debate and discussion, and if there's no chance of your being physically/emotionally/financially at risk if you don't listen to them, then I'd suggest just riding out their disapproval, and dressing however you want. It may wear them down slowly, and if it doesn't--well, 18 is just around the corner.

But if your family members are open to conversation, do you think that you could get your mother (who you said doesn't seem to have a problem with your dressing freely anymore) to intervene, and talk to your father about why you should have the freedom to dress how you want, and that whichever adult is feeling "uncomfortable" seeing a minor in short clothes is the problem here? If that doesn't work, maybe it would help to bring it up with your father at a time when you're not dressed to go out (so there's no time limit on the conversation), and you can start the conversation on your own terms, with something like "I want to talk to you about your being uncomfortable with me dressing in short clothes because you think it invites male attention. I want to let you know that it upsets me when you tell me these things, and that it hurts me when I give in to keep the peace". If he says that he's just trying to protect you from unwanted sexual attention, you could tell him that if such unwanted attention does come your way, you've got the means to protect yourself, and that sexual violence could (and often does) happen to anyone, regardless of what they've got on. Also, it helps if you emphasize to him that this conversation isn't a "debate", that instead, you're letting him know how you feel about this, and that your views will not change regardless of what he tells you, because only you have a right to your body and how you dress. Does that sound helpful?
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iloveeveryone
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Re: Discomfort w parents thoughts on "short clothes"

Unread post by iloveeveryone »

Thank you, this gave me many things to think about! Can I talk about each thing you said here?
If the adults in your life aren't open to debate and discussion, and if there's no chance of your being physically/emotionally/financially at risk if you don't listen to them, then I'd suggest just riding out their disapproval...
My father is open to discussion about this, but I don't think I can change his mind. He has also brought up that wearing short clothes even if that hurts his feelings is wrong on my part. Does "compromise" by me, making him feel better by wearing what he wants me to really apply here? Because I feel like it doesn't in an important thing (to me) like this. IS this needless "teenage rebellion"???
It may wear them down slowly, and if it doesn't--well, 18 is just around the corner.
I think this has already happened, the wearing down, although that doesn't make me feel very good, because I still feel like I have made my father "compromise". Yes, 18 is not too far!!!
If he says that he's just trying to protect you from unwanted sexual attention, you could tell him that if such unwanted attention does come your way, you've got the means to protect yourself, and that sexual violence could (and often does) happen to anyone, regardless of what they've got on.
I agree! And he will say that, haha. I don't know what he will say after I say this, though.


Last thing, I feel like I still need some assurance that my opinion is fine. If I go out and a "male" stares at me or actually physically does something bad (ugh, this feels weird to think about but my parents have made me think about this so many times) and I'm wearing shorts, would the chances of that become less by wearing jeans?? I'm not creating "drama" or doing something unnecessary by asking and thinking about this, right?

Thank you so much for giving me a way to start the conversation again. I don't really feel like doing that because it will be stressful, is that okay for me? :?
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Emily N
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Re: Discomfort w parents thoughts on "short clothes"

Unread post by Emily N »

Hi iloveeveryone,

I’m so sorry you are dealing with people wanting to control the way you dress, that sounds very difficult! It’s good that your dad is open to the conversations, but I can imagine it’s exhausting to keep having conversations where you don’t feel like you are making progress. I don’t know what he means when he says “wearing short clothes is wrong on your part” but I can assure you that you aren’t doing anything wrong by wearing what you want! It doesn’t sound like a compromise to wear what makes him comfortable because it sounds like then you won’t be comfortable with this outcome! I’m not sure that compromising is the best outcome for you in this situation, either - you don’t owe anyone anything when it comes to your own body. It is kind of you to create space to talk about your father’s feelings about how you dress, and maybe this helps make your relationship more comfortable, but you don’t owe him this either.

I also don’t want you to belittle your situation as “teenage rebellion” - it is very upsetting to have someone tell you how to dress! You are not creating drama, and your opinion on wearing short clothes (or any clothes you want) is very much in line with Scarleteen’s values! I also want to say that whatever you decide -- wear short clothes, reduce friction with parents and wear longer clothes, keep having discussions with your father, stop engaging in these conversations with your father if they are stressful -- all options are valid!
jenny01
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Re: Discomfort w parents thoughts on "short clothes"

Unread post by jenny01 »

My parents are stern about me wearing short clothes too. Sometimes I tie a knot in my shirt and you can see part of my stomach and my mom freaks out, even though she bought my younger sister (18) a bikini. I really don't understand why they're so strict. I think you should just wear what you want to.
iloveeveryone
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Location: India

Re: Discomfort w parents thoughts on "short clothes"

Unread post by iloveeveryone »

Thank you so much!!! For the support, and telling me I should wear what I want.
I feel much better. I appreciated all the points you guys made. :D
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