Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The dichotomy in the way boys and girls dress

Rebecca Hagelin checked in with this column, a part of which I quote here, about the way boys and girls dress, with special emphasis on the fact that our young ladies are dressing more like old hookers:

It's actually quite amusing to me to watch my boys and their friends deliberate about what or what not to buy or wear. I often have flashbacks to my own days of observing the strange dressing practices that my teen brothers and my folks' reaction to their choices. Bottom line was, my parents didn't care much for my brothers choices of clothing or hair. Fast-forward thirty years and now I'm the fuddy-duddy parent that thinks my sons' choices in clothes and hair are a bit, shall we say, undesirable. But I don't make a big deal out of it - they are clean, it's their style, and there's nothing actually wrong with their 'look' - it just ain't my cup of tea. Although some guys 'sag' to the extreme (i.e., wear their pants so low that underwear shows and other objects are in danger of showing), these are not the problems of most of the teen boys I know. It's different with the teenage girls. Sadly, most of them look just plain trashy. Call me sexist. Call me a prude. Call me what you will. But I absolutely refuse to allow my daughter to dress according to the dictates of the manufacturers of girls' clothing, which has been patterned on the preferences of such role-models as Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, et al. The sad fact is that a lot of today's tween and teen girls dress like street-walkers.
Aside from the fact that it's sad and disgraceful that parents allow their daughters out of the house dressed this way (and the bottom line in Hagelin's article is that parents need to step in), Hagelin has adverted to something I find very peculiar. At all times before this, young men and young women had what I call parallel dressing styles. That is, they looked like matched sets. For example, here are two nice early 16th Century examples (both unknown Italians): Or, to travel forward a few hundred years, here's a couple of solid American citizens from the late 18th century (John and Abigail Adams, if you're interested): Or, how about this snazzy pair from the 1940s (that's June Allyson and Peter Lawford in the 1940s musical Good News): In each series of pictures, the boy and the girl look culturally in synch. Sure, he's in pants (or pantaloons) and she's in a dress, but they still look like a matched set. Fast forward to today, though, and you have our boy dressed like a three year old whose clothes are too big and who hasn't learned to master his shoelaces, while our girl, as Hagelin points out, would look appropriate on any street corner at midnight. Why have our boys become infantilized in their clothing and our girls hypersexualized? What weird dichotomy is this? I've observed this phenomenom for years without being able to answer my own question. Do any of you have an answer and, if so, would you share it here?