While I’m away, readers give the advice. On overly sexualized clothing for girls:
W hy feel nervous about little girls’ short-shorts and midriff tops? Would people similarly get nervous about a little boy playing outside in the summer with no shirt at all?
I know it’s hard to raise kids in a world that isn’t always safe for them. Does a little girl’s clothing choice matter in that regard? How can you say that to a child without hurting her? “We don’t want you to wear the short-shorts in fashion because we don’t want you to attract the wrong kind of attention.” That’s kind of the peewee version of the rape myth, what a woman wears or does is part of why she gets raped.
Parents should focus less on shaping girls into their image of what a girl should be, and more on strengthening them for their futures as young ladies.
I believe that there are several things the family can do to make sure a girl is safe and body-proud, which will shield her better than a focus on clothing.
First, Mom and Dad can make a point to praise the daughter once a week or more on something she has done, whether a book report, or learning to turn a cartwheel, or listening to a friend.
Second, give her an opportunity to be part of a community focused outside herself: e.g., packing boxes for the food bank or painting for a Habitat for Humanity house. This is all about the person she will be, not the clothes she wears.
— Email Carolyn at tellmewashpost.com.