Lowdown Dirty No-Shame

Frank pointed out the cover of Section E ‘Connection’ of tonight’s Ann Arbor News (Motto: ‘Still the World’s Worst Website). Headlined Highs and Lows of Clothes (ain’t that alliterative?), it’s a discussion of how, for today’s teen girl, ‘less is more.’ I think he regrets bringing it home. It provoked a longish rant, which you’re now going to have to suffer through like him.

Having spent yesterday at a southwest AA high school, I can attest that, for the girls anyway, less is indeed the style. One class had female students who made the denizens of the Blue Moon Brothel of Winnemucca, Nevada, look overdressed, and I had the passing thought: ‘Do your mothers know you dress like cheap whores?’

Okay, it may not be nice or PC or appropriate or whatever, but, quite frankly, neither was the way these kids were dressed.

Now, I’m no prude (as Frank will tell you); wear what you want. I’ve always guffawed when principals and superintendents tried to battle miniskirts and anti-Bush t-shirts by saying they ‘disrupt the educational process.’ No, the educational process is disrupted by collections for Ronald McDonald House and please let these students out of class to go on the field trip to Cedar Point and religious fundamentalist fooling with textbooks and No Child Left Behind and so on and so on and so on.

I saw nothing wrong with miniskirts back in my day; being of a different … orientation … they did nothing for me, or to me, even though they drove the parents and administrators of the 60s and 70s nuts. And now, well, as long as I don’t have to see anybody’s … nether regions, I don’t much care.

My angle, then as now, is just that it shows a complete lack of respect for self, as well as a great deal of ignorance about a whole host of things, not least of which is how they’re manipulated by the industry.

In other words, you wanna dress like the two-bit whores I saw near DuPont Circle my first time in Washington, DC, many years ago, well, go ahead, but … well, you’re gonna look like a two-bit DuPont Circle whore, who’s a slave to fashionistas who seem to enjoy the heroin-wasted, anorexic … whore look.

Is that the image you want to project? Particularly when you’re just 16 and still in high school? Better question: Is that the image you want your daughter to project if you’re a parent?

A mother quoted in the News article says:

‘I struggle with that all the time. How do I get her to feel good about herself? Boys are a focus for them at that age … How do I make her understand … that dressing quote unquote ‘hot’ doesn’t always give you what you want?’

Pause to reach for the Pepto. Excuse me? How do you get her to feel good about herself? How about by not allowing her to go to school dressed like one of Seymour Butts’ actresses?

And dressing ‘hot’ doesn’t give you what you want?! Sorry, sweetie, but it gives you exactly what you want … and more. And the latter half of that is the problem.

Interesting that this mother’s daughter attends … of course, the very high school I guest taught at yesterday. And mommy, who asks the clueless question above, not only lets her kid go to school dressed in short skirts and sometimes midrif-baring skimpy shirts, also has allowed her to be photographed and splashed big-as-life in the News.

But apparently, she’s the soul of discretion; she doesn’t show her belly every day. And her mother says she terms her dress on the ‘conservative side.’

Of course, the News puts the teenager from Ypsilanti on the inside of the section and in a much smaller photo; that’ll put them Ypsi people in their place. Still, the Ypsi entry is showing more cleavage than the Grand Canyon and wearing hip-hugging jeans that I last saw at my sister’s high school graduation ceremony in 1974, looking just as scruffy and dirty as they did back then.

Let me hasten to be clear here: I’m not calling any of these girls whores or questioning their virtue. Just their judgment and self-respect. Not to mention the cluelessness and lack of judgment of their mothers.

I’ve been saying a lot lately (and I’m sure Frank will get tired of hearing it over the next year of grad school) that I as a teacher will have no problem being held accountable for how my students perform on standardized testing when parents in the American empire start being held accountable for how their students dress, act, treat each other and their teachers and whether or not they come to school well-fed, well-clothed, having been kissed good bye, told they are loved and given every opportunity possible to come to school ready to learn.

When we can institute a system of parental accountability, I’ll be more than happy as a teacher to take personal responsibility for my students.

Until then, at least teach your kids to respect their elders (especially substitute teachers) and don’t dress your daughters like Las Vegas hookers.

If I had a teenage daughter, we would SO be having a fight right now …