The older my daughter gets, the more uncomfortable I become with the temperature of the conversation over what teenage girls are wearing. Yes, I want my daughter to show a little class with the clothes she chooses. No, I don't want her to feel that it's OK for men to leer at her ... no matter what she's wearing.
Recently I've come to realize that a part of raising a girl in America is teaching her that she doesn't have to take inappropriate overtures from men. And the only way to do that is to tell the men to take a hike.
This isn't easy for parents to face.
When a man is staring at your daughter in the supermarket, the last thing you want to do is march over to the lech and tell him to put his jaw back on his face where it belongs.
Guys like that make us uncomfortable for a reason.
But Moms, Dads, please, do your daughter a favor! Don't tell her to put on a sweater. Don't even hustle her out of there. Walk over there and give that man a piece of your mind.
Don't do it because I told you to. Do it because your daughter needs to know that 1) you have her back, 2) it isn't her fault, and 3) something CAN be done about a man making her feel uncomfortable.
We are their first role models and the first line of defense against slut-shaming. Let the lecherous old man in the grocery store continue to ogle her like a piece of meat, and you're sending the not-so-subtle message that his inappropriate behavior is OK, and that she's wrong for feeling uncomfortable. Scurry her out of there or make her cover up, and you're telling her that she is the problem, not him.
Walk up there and set him straight, and you empower her.
It's an uncomfortable truth for parents to admit, but even as we love to admire our girls' beauty, we have to protect it too ... and protect them.
Have you ever encountered someone looking inappropriately at your daughter? What did you do about it?
Image via david_shankbone/Flickr