A “hoochie mama” is someone who dresses very provocatively. The term was originally used to describe a woman “of a certain age” who dressed in a skin-exposing manner, but more and more, it’s become another word for tramp. This week, I heard it used in connection with a group of 8th grade girls, and it made me grit my teeth in frustration at how many parents are “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to teaching their daughters how to dress. It’s an oversight with consequences that could literally last a lifetime.
My frustration began last weekend when I took my 7th grade, 13 year old daughter, Peyton, to get a new bra. She’d gone up several cup sizes this spring, and was bursting at the seams.
So we headed to our local Kohl’s Department Store when their elderly, expert bra fitter was on duty. As Peyton tried on several different styles in the dressing room, I wandered around the Juniors’ section of the lingerie department – and instantly became concerned by what I saw there: dozens of “A” cups, half-filled with “push up” material.
What does an “A” cup Junior – 11, 12, or 13 year old girl – need with a “push up” bra?
An “A” or “B” cup woman looking to fill out a sexy cocktail dress, maybe – but a 7th or 8th grade girl? What was I missing?
Apparently, a lot.
As Peyton finished up, I asked the bra fitter why junior high students needed push up bras.
“Junior high, high school – all the girls are wearing them,” she replied.
“And their mothers approve?” I asked, surprised.
She laughed. “They don’t come in with their mothers! They come in with their boyfriends, and they take them into the dressing room with them. I’m forever running teenage boys out of here.”
I stared at her in shock.
She shook her head. “I know. My youngest is 40. This wasn’t an issue back then.”
I used to be appalled by the sloppy state of most Juniors’ department dressing rooms; now I have to worry who might be in the next room over while my teenage daughters are changing clothes? When did THAT happen? And does anyone else find this appalling?
That’s the question I asked some of my son’s classmates’ parents as we were standing around socializing at a pool party a few days later. We were talking about how quickly children are forced to grow up these days when I brought up the story from the bra fitter.
“It’s not just bras, Diana,” one of them said, “It’s their every day clothes. I cannot believe what some parents allow their girls to leave the house in.”
She went on to tell me that her daughter had graduated from 8th grade over the weekend, and she was still reeling from the “hoochie mama” dresses some of the girls had worn to the graduation dance that night.
“Down to here,” she said, pointing to her bust, “Up to here,” she said, brushing the tops of her thighs, “And everything two sizes too small. They couldn’t even sit down. They had to stand around all night.”
As the others chimed in, voicing their disapproval, I realized that this was a bigger problem than I thought. Every generation tries to push the limits of what’s acceptable, but it doesn’t mean you have to give in to their demands. In fact, I heartily encourage you to be the voice of reason when parenting your kids. You ARE the boss of them, after all. If you guide them correctly, they’ll be more likely to stay out of trouble and become responsible, productive adults.
Sadly, many parents don’t do this anymore. They allow their children to act and dress however they want. Shorts in the snow, pajamas at restaurants, “hoochie mama” dresses to 8th grade graduation parties – it’s like watching a bunch of three year olds playing dress up. And it can lead to all sorts of problems.
Because in the end, while times may have changed, people really haven’t. Some have just gotten lazier and more permissive.
“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it,” philosopher Edmund Burke said back in the 1700’s.
Here are some of the historic problems with allowing young girls to dress however they want:
Men ALWAYS Look at Young, Pretty Girls
If you’re a young, pretty girl (or were one as a teen), you know this is true. It can be very ego-gratifying to have men look at you – especially if they’re hot. But it’s not JUST the hot ones who are looking; it’s pretty much ANY straight male with a pulse. Including the unsavory ones.
Scarlett Johansson’s leering admirer
This was driven home to me during a girls’ weekend in New York several years ago with my aunt, sister, four cousins, and their eight teenage daughters. The teens were (and still are) gorgeous, and their pretty faces and nice figures inspired lots of double-takes. But not just from cute boys and handsome young men. Oh, no. When I saw my 70-something aunt scowling at a 60-something man who immediately looked away, I asked her what was going on.
“I’ve never seen so many letches in my life,” she growled. “I’ve been giving them the ‘evil eye’ all weekend.”
Curious, I kept an eye on her. Whenever she started shooting daggers at someone with her eyes – which was often – I followed her line of vision. Invariably, it was some 40+, slovenly male with a beer belly, ogling one or several of her teenage granddaughters.
Until then, I was pretty oblivious to such things. But as my own daughters have grown into pretty, head-turning teens, I’ve become alarmed by the variety of males checking them out. If you have teenage or young adult females in your life, look around next time you’re out with them to see who’s looking back. Prepared to be shocked.
Young Girls Are Inexperienced
Most teenagers think they know it all and will tell you so at every chance. But in reality, most have lived in a very small world that consists of school, church, and after-school activities with people they know and trust. Put them in a new situation and they won’t know how to act.
Rapunzel and Flynn in Disney’s Tangled (2010)
God’s Gift to Women
Cassie (my 15 year old) and I were sitting at a stop light recently when a jeep crossed through the intersection. I didn’t see who was driving, but the cocky 15 year old boy in the passenger seat saw Cassie, winked at her, threw her a kiss, and confidently tossed his hair like he was God’s gift to women. Cassie laughed so hard through the open window that he looked at her in surprise as the jeep passed out of sight.
“Cassie! You can’t laugh in their faces!” I admonished, trying hard not to laugh myself at the boy’s antics. “It hurts their feelings.”
“I can’t help it,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes as she continued to laugh. “If he stood in front of me and did that, I’d die laughing.”
…As would most girls her age. It’s the impulse reaction. It only takes a time or two of embarrassing a guy and sending him stomping away from you in a huff to learn to control yourself.
Peyton and I were leaving the grocery store when we had to stand at the curb and wait for a school bus to pass by in the parking lot. As it slowed down for a speed bump, the second to last window suddenly banged open, and a cute 13 or 14 year old boy stuck his head out and said, “Hi there,” in a deep voice to Peyton. Her face turned red and she stared at him in shock as the bus pulled away.
“You should have smiled and said ‘hello’ back,” I said.
“My mind went completely blank,” she replied, giggling.
It’s fun to watch young girls learn how to flirt with boys their age, because we’ve all been there. You forget how much you didn’t know back then.
But then something happens to remind you just how innocent kids that age really are. For me, it happened immediately after the “hello there” incident.
After Peyton blushed and giggled, we continued to laugh about the episode as we found our car and got in. As I fastened my seat belt, I noticed a sketchy 20-something guy in the car next to us watching Peyton closely. My hackles immediately went up. She glanced at him and fortunately, looked away an instant before he made an obscene gesture. I gave him a freezing look as I put the car in gear and pulled away.
Lewd behavior in public has always ticked me off, but in front of innocents? For shock value? Totally unacceptable. Unfortunately, these creeps are everywhere. You really have to pay attention to keep them away from your daughters.
P.S. This is also the reason why it’s a BAD IDEA to allow your teenage daughter to date someone more than two years older than her. Not only do they have little in common, there’s also the corruption factor.
”Hoochie Mama” Attire Makes Men Think of Sex
Want to get your lover “in the mood?” Wear provocative attire.
Want to announce to complete strangers that you’re “in the mood?” Do the same thing.
People will look where you direct their attention. If you show lots of cleavage, they’ll look at your bust. If you show lots of leg, they’ll look at your thighs. It’s not rocket science.
But it IS unnerving.
You cannot hold an intelligent conversation with someone who’s staring at your body parts. I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work. Their mind wanders. So does their gaze. Occasionally, so do their hands. Which can be a problem if you’re not in an intimate relationship with them.
When you don’t set boundaries with your clothing, most guys will assume there ARE no boundaries. It’s hard to convince them otherwise once they’ve seen your “bits and pieces.”
So what does all this have to do with “hoochie mama” and 8th graders?
Let’s connect the dots:
- Men of all ages look at pretty, young girls
- Young girls are inexperienced
- Provocative attire makes men think of sex
So when you put a young, pretty, inexperienced girl in provocative attire and send her out the door, you’re essentially throwing a lamb to the wolves. Guys will look, many will assume she’s “easy,” and because she’s naïve, she’ll be in over her head.
I’ve been told repeatedly that women should be able to dress however they like and be left alone. I don’t disagree. I just know it’s unrealistic.
Ask a few cops how they let THEIR teenager daughters leave the house. Better yet, ask how many are pulling double shifts to send their kids to private school. Around here, it’s a lot. When you see the underbelly of society every day, you do your best to shield your family from it.
That’s what I mean by being the voice of reason.
Navigating puberty and the teen years is difficult enough without adding sex – or the pressure for sex – to the mix. It’s an emotional time. It can also be very confusing.
So why rush things? Why force them to grow up faster than necessary by allowing them to leave the house dressed like a club-hopping 20-something?
Put them in appropriate attire and refuse to buy “hoochie mama” stuff. Period. They may holler that they know fashion, that you’re mean, out of touch, etc., but a little drama now will save a world of hurt later when they’re not forced to make adult decisions with a teen’s knowledge and experience.
|Teenage Appropriate||Completely INappropriate|
I’ll close with a tale of a 16 year old girl I know who’s a total “hoochie mama.”
She’s cute, she’s popular, and she has a spectacular figure that she showcases in short-shorts and low-cut tops. She generates plenty of attention from men of all ages. But she also swears like a sailor, drinks like a fish, and is easily confused by big words. She’s been sexually active for several years, and frequently sleeps over at her boyfriend’s. Sadly, once she graduates from high school, her best years will be behind her. She’ll spend the rest of her life in low-paying jobs, and she’ll look fifty by the time she’s thirty.
How do I know?
Because I’ve seen this same story often enough to know how it ends. Poor grades lead to poor-paying jobs and hard living leads to hard looks. When you cram a lifetime of vices into a few short years, it takes a serious toll on your face. Just ask Lindsay Lohan, Carrie Fisher, or Melanie Griffith.
So what’s the bottom line?
People treat you how you treat yourself. I’ve said it a thousand times. If you create boundaries with your clothes and carry yourself with confidence, people will treat you with respect.
But if you show a lot of skin and act timidly, people will run roughshod right over you. They’ll use and abuse you and toss you aside with little concern for your welfare.
So treat yourself well and teach your daughters how to dress to command respect as well.
Then, let them enjoy their childhood. Let them have the junior and high school “experience” of transitioning from child to adult. Let them fall in love wearing age-appropriate clothes. Because they’re only young once. They’ll be adults for the rest of their lives.
Need more tips on how to dress appropriately to attract a great guy without resulting to “hoochie mama” tactics? Clothes That Get The Guy can help.