Apparently it's time to shop for prom dresses. Several friends of mine have reported just completing the shopping ritual with their daughter.
But this ritual is much more complicated than it was in our day. Then, all you had to worry about was finding a dress you liked and your mother could afford.
Today, this shopping ritual is complicated by some schools' Say 'No' to the Dress campaigns, according to the Wall Street Journal. The outcry is prompted by the fact that prom dresses have gotten way too racy and risqué in recent years.
Another article puts it more baldly: "How Prom Dresses Got So Slutty", which recounts tales of dresses so revealing, they wouldn't be fit for anyone except maybe Cher in her heyday:
...prom-goers have been eager — particularly in the last few years — to flaunt shoulder blades, midriffs, breasts, and thighs in all manner of backless, stomach-baring, skintight, embellished dresses."
But what to do you do when that's what your daughter wants?
Gender expert Susan Shapiro Barash, author of You're Grounded Forever but First Let's Go Shopping: The Challenges Mothers Face with Their Daughters and Ten Timely Solutions, whom we consulted on Whitney Houston and her daughter Bobbie Christina, has done extensive research on the relationship between mothers and daughters, so I asked her how mothers could handle this situation.
According to Barash, the situation is rather bleak. And complicated.
It's a sexually driven culture so invested in how females look," she began.
Mothers want to please their daughters. They understand the pressure the girls are under and "no one want to be the mother that says 'no'." Especially when you can be the deciding factor in whether your daughter is the "It" girl or a wallflower.
She discussed how the pressure on the girls can get translated to the moms. Plus, she admitted that a lot of mothers are also dressing in an oversexualized fashion... so how can you present a double standard?
I would hope that the girls would have enough self-esteem to resist these pressures, but that is probably unrealistic. In the days of Gossip Girl, when reality stars like Kim & the Kardashians and those Jersey Shore girls are idealized, it does look like you're fighting a losing battle. It's a good thing I don't have a daughter — I'd probably lock her in her room till she was 30.
Susan Shapiro Barash, who has two teen daughters of their own, cited some sobering studies she's conducted:
Over 70% of mother's don't feel they've sent enough limits with their daughters. And over 70% of mothers don't feel they are teaching their daughter's the right values."
Oh dear. Better sit them all down and give them a good viewing or two of Miss Representation to start with!
But really, what can you do about the prom dress?!
"You have to pick your battles," Barash says. Set an example through your own style. She also suggests explaining that you want her to be safe in the dress she's wearing. "Hopefully you can reach a compromise, where the dress is sexy enough for her and 'safe' enough for you."
I happened hear from SGS friend Barbara Hannah Grufferman, author of The Best of Everything Over 50 on another topic — she mentioned she'd just returned from a prom dress shopping excursion with her eldest daughter.
So I asked her about the over sexed aspect of prom dresses:
Oh for sure!!! But [her daughter] isn't that 'type', thank goodness. She has quite the va-va voom figure, but is a bit uncomfortable with it, so she tends toward more classic clothes that are well fitting and tailored, but not tight and overly sexy.
The dress she chose is truly lovely, from BCBG. Long, and a lovely pinkish/rosy color, like a peony, I think. She and her friends are not about looking sexy, but are into looking pretty and modern.
Generally speaking, she and her friends are 'modern feminists' in that they are proud of their beauty and blossoming sexuality but see no reason to look overly sexualized."
So maybe that's the tack to take —stress modern feminism and being in control of your own beauty and sexuality. Rather than letting society dictate how you should look.
It's worth a try! Good luck.
More mother / daughter fashion & beauty:
Famous Mothers & Their Daughters
Waif or Porn Star?
Mother of the Bride Wants a New Neck for Daughter's Wedding