Hoochie Mama: school girl or call girl?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.

Here’s What Happened

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 where 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?

Junior Pushup Bra

Juniors’ Pushup 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.”

My Mouth Was Agape

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.”

"Hoochie Mama" DressShe 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

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 "Tangled"

Rapunzel and Flynn in Disney’s Tangled (2010)

For example:

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.

Hi There

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?” Dress provocatively.

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.

Theory vs Reality

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 Totally Inappropriate
Graduation Dress from Macy's Hoochie Mama Dress - PinkIce.com
Macys.com   PinkIce.com

Here’s What Happens

I’ll close with a tale of a 16 year old girl I know who’s a totalhoochie 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.

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.

Mom and teenSo 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.

    34 replies to "Hoochie Mama and the 8th Graders"

    • Jackie

      Hi Diana,

      I found your article very interesting and relevant. I am amazed that young school aged girls take their boyfriends into the changing rooms when they are buying bras! It is sad that for many young people childhood is over far too quickly!


      • Diana

        Hi Jackie,

        Glad you liked the article! I was also appalled that so many young girls were bringing their boyfriends into the dressing room with them. It’s too much, too early, IMO.

    • Paula Christen

      Parents, don’t look the other way and hope for the best when girl teens dress like “Hoochie Mama”. Make some noise, make them change the outfit to what is appropriate. They get too many bad images from entertainment venues; music, tv and movies.

      They’ll say they hate you, you have ruined their life but your job is to guide and protect them until they really can do it for themselves. As my mom would always say “My house, my rules – now go change your clothes.” Maybe I didn’t love her in that moment, but I sure do now!

      • Diana

        Well said, Paula! Thanks!

    • Nancy Astromsky

      I totally agree with this comment. It is so sad that life as a sexual woman is starting with younger and younger ages.
      When I first saw padded bras in the seven to fourteen section, I told the salesperson I did not approve. A woman standing next to me said she buys them so her daughter’s dresses fit. I replied I bought dress that did not need padded bras to fit a girl of twelve.
      This article needs to be sent around the world. Wake up folks. It is totally inappropriate to be the girl with the most skimpy outfit ever. Watch what you are accepting. There are age appropriate clothes in the stores. Buy them and let young girls be young girls. Life is life and not a reality show.

      • Diana


    • Shelly

      You article is spot-on and I couldn’t agree more!! Sitting outside after school yesterday waiting to pick up my 7th grader, a parade of 8th grade graduates dressed provocatively and teetering on 4-5″ heels worked their way to their respective family cars. It was sad to see. The low-cut tops, the short-short skirts. Then you should have seen most of their mothers who were also dressed inappropriately for a mid-morning school function. I saw more skin and cleavage than one would see at Hooters! Just because a person has a nice figure doesn’t mean they rest of us really want or need to see it. I like the old saying, “if it’s not for sale, then don’t advertise.”

      • Diana

        Hi Shelly,

        A lot of this DOES come from their mothers, who never learned how to dressed properly themselves. I have never understood the need to show lots of skin. The few times I have worn a low cut top, I had leering men talking to my breasts instead of me. Totally unacceptable. To dress like that all the time and teach my daughters to do the same? Beyond comprehension, IMO.

    • Lori Cooper

      Thank you! I am a wardrobe consultant who is constantly being told by my 14 year old daughter that I am “too conservative” when it comes to clothing for her age group. You said it all, and I have said it before, too. Perhaps she will take your words to heart when she sees I am not the only one with this advice to not dress like a tramp. It’s a fine line wanting our girls to feel good about their bodies and letting them wear the atrocious styles being sold in most stores. Ugh!

      • Diana

        Hi Lori,

        From ages 14-21, kids think their parents are clueless, old-fashioned, out-of-touch, etc., because they don’t understanding the workings of the kids’ peer group. As I said in the article, their world is very small at this age – school, church, after-school activities, etc. – and they’re “big fishes in a small pond.” Yet as soon as the kids graduate from college and start interacting in “the real world” of new people and new situations every day – landlords, car insurance, company politics, crazy exes – it’s like their folks suddenly become geniuses overnight. It’s called life experience, and as I often tell my kids, “I’ve got 30 years’ more experience than you, and I’m giving you the benefit of it so you don’t have to figure things out for yourself. This IS the shortcut. Trust me. There is no benefit to me in steering you wrong.”

        By all means, show your daughter this article. You aren’t the lone, renegade, “uncool” mom trying to curtail all her fun. Quite the opposite. You’re raising her to respect herself so when she goes forth in the world in a few years, others will respect her as well.

    • Theresa

      Great article, Diana! I think on one hand, you wouldn’t want your daughter to be “uncool” ala “Carrie” but on the other hand you certainly don’t want her running around looking like a slut & learning her only value in life is as a sex object. It takes good parenting to find the middle & a wardrobe you both can agree on. It boils down to teaching her about being classy, not trashy, which requires strong self-esteem and an awareness of how society and the media can be so demeaning to girls and women. As in all aspects of parenting, being a good role model is essential. I appreciate you raising this issue and hopefully it will wake some parents up to take notice and more control. I know, easier said than done…!

      • Diana

        Hi Theresa,

        Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. It IS a challenge to raise them well, to integrate them socially without going to one or the other extreme.

        Being a parent is the HARDEST job there is. Many are not up to the task. When your teenager is yelling at you, cursing you, telling you what a horrible person you are because you won’t let her do whatever she wants, it’s tempting to give in. It’s easier. I get it. I’ve been tempted myself.

        But like sleepless nights as an infant, looking for monsters under the bed as a preschooler, waiting for Santa Claus in grade school, etc., this, too shall pass. It’s tough right now, but the end is in sight. You only have a few more years to shape them into responsible adults. Don’t lower your guard now. As my wise aunt once told me, “Being a parent of teenagers is hard. Watching those teenagers parent their OWN teenagers 30 years later? Payback!” 😉

        Always keep your eye on the big picture…

    • Donna

      Thank you for this article laying out very clearly why 8th graders dressing like that is wrong. As a mom of an 8th grader I can tell you it is hard to even find shorts that are appropriate length.

      • Diana

        Hi Donna,

        Thanks! Glad you liked it!

        Finding modest, mid thigh shorts for juniors CAN be a challenge. Try:

        JC Penney

        You won’t find a huge selection, but you will find some. Hope this helps!

    • Anonymous

      Well said!

    • Veronica

      HI Diana,

      I think this is what my grandmother used to call “preaching to the choir” and of course I agree with you completely.

      I don’t have daughters, but while shopping with my 14 yr. old son for some new gear this morning, I was aghast at the tasteless slogans printed on T-shirts. Does a 14 year old boy need to wear a T-shirt which proclaims he is a “sex machine”? That was one of the milder examples.

      Parents of teenagers must not only be willing to set boundaries but also be willing to take the snarls and the dirty looks, the grouching and the sulking. Not everybody is up for that and you can tell which ones are not by the way their kids dress.


      • Diana

        Hi Veronica,

        Glad you liked the article! Yes, it can be just as tough for boys, too. Some of the sayings on t-shirts, jackets, and caps will make you blush. And yes, you CAN tell whose parents have just “given up” – it shows in their kids’ manners and dress.

        Thanks for writing!

    • Laura

      Dear Diana,

      Thank you for your great articles! I felt I had to leave a reply to this one!
      I hope this will prompt mothers to take their daughters shopping. I have been embarrassed too often with the dress of young girls and teenagers. I don’t even know half of them!!!

      I only have sons. In the earlier years dress codes and fashion were also an issue.
      Nothing like I would imagine the conversations of mothers and daughters had or in some cases haven’t !!!
      I did, however, have many conversations about women , respect ,and responsibility, regardless of the clothing they wore or the lack of it!!!!! These were not always easy conversations for a mother and sons to have…… I did it regardless.
      The young need to be taught to respect themselves. Their families need to guide them to the appropriate dress racks!!!
      Keep up the good work!

      • Diana

        Hi Laura,

        I think it all boils down to how you yourself were taught about clothing, manners, language, etc. If your parents actively drilled it into you, you’re more likely to pass it on to the next generation in the same manner. That’s not always true, but it’s generally the case. And you’re right – some of the conversations CAN be uncomfortable. But they still need to happen.

        Thanks for note!

    • Tania Mizzi

      Your articles are just great reading, but today`s excels!
      At last there`s someone who`s fashionable yet modest, in a world which seems to have forgotten the meaning of the word.Keep it up.A very well worded article.

      • Diana

        Hi Tania,

        Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for writing!

    • Valeria Martin

      Think of Tiaras and Toddlers on TLC. I have never watched the show but I can barely stand the trailers for the program. Little girls parading in make-up and adult-style clothes. I was appalled to see a girl shaking her butt to the audience! These parents are sending their daughters down a very dangerous path!

      • Diana

        Hi Valeria,

        There have been stage mothers for hundreds of years, but reality TV has brought out the worst of them. Fame and fortune at ANY cost = some people willing to do ANYTHING for attention. Given the sad history of child actors, my guess is that child reality stars will fare little better. Will what’s being shown today require years of therapy to undo later? Probably. You’re right – it IS a dangerous path. 🙁

    • sirby

      At my son’s middle school I was talking to the mothers of girls in the same grade (6th). They were complaining that their daughters dressed like prostitutes and they couldn’t make them stop. I asked if their daughters had jobs and cars. Of course they didn’t. We live in a small town and most people drive about an hour to shop for clothes. It turned out that the mothers were driving the girls to the stores and paying for the prostitute clothing. My solution was to stop paying for them. I was told it was not possible.

      • Diana

        Hi Sherleen,

        Of course it’s impossible – when the children run the house! It’s one of the biggest problems I see. “My house, my rules,” my father used to say. If I didn’t like it, I could leave – at my own expense. Of course, I never did. I liked spending what little money I made on myself, so I lived with chores and curfews. Most teens today have neither. THEY dictate how they dress, with whom they associate, and when they come and go. Then their parents wonder why they’re still supporting them at age 30. HELLO! Who WOULDN’T like that arrangement?

        I agree with you whole-heartedly. If you don’t want your kid to dress like a prostitute, DON’T buy that type of clothing. Period. You’re their parent, not their lackey. Act like it.

    • Penny

      I once worked with a woman who was 10 years younger than me. We were in sales and needed professional attire. Her choices were definitely “hoochie mama”-esque based on the shortness of her suit skirts and display of cleavage. It always amused me that she would get really angry when she drew unflattering comments from men who were confused as to her “profession”. She told me more than once that my skirts were way to long [mid-knee vs. her mid-thigh]. My comment to her sailed over her head, “Depends on what you’re selling.”

      • Diana

        Hi Penny,

        Love it! LOL! 🙂

    • Kathleen

      Hi Diana,
      Even though I do not have teenage daughters, I couldn’t stop reading your article. I am in total agreement! Two recent examples I saw:

      ** In my neighborhhod, an 8-year old wore a bikini with a padded bra top. Why???
      ** At a local restaurant a preteen and her dad were waiting for food. He pretty much ignored her, and perhaps that’s why she was dressed like she was (show-it-all leggings and a short top) and acted like she did (strutting around like a runway model with exaggerated movement, texting on her cell phone, showing off, rudely bumping into people because she wasn’t paying attention). Leggings are great – if you wear an appropriate dress or top over them. But this girl might as well have been wearing sheer pantyhose for all that was on view.

      But then, it shouldn’t really surprise us that the kids dress this way when adults in the business world dress as if they were either going out to a nightclub (too tight, too short, over-exposed) or have just come from cleaning the house (torn jeans, ratty t-shirts).

      Women, wake up! Show respect for yourself, and then teach your daughters to respect themselves. We are walking neon advertisements, and what we wear says it all. Is it flashing a XXX message? If so, then don’t be surprised by the responses you engender.

      • Diana

        Hi Kathleen,

        Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, kids learn how to dress from their parents, and if their parents don’t know, they look to their peers or the media. Sad. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jan Hurley

      Diana, I have an 11-year-old SON and I would say that I am grateful for it so that I don’t have to worry about this; HOWEVER, I realize that I DO! One day, he will be the one tempted by these young girls. I own a cosmetic store and I can tell you that I see a LOT of what you are talking about and I am impressed by how articulately you said it. I plan to send this to all my relatives and girlfriends with young girls. They really need to hear this. I think some parents can only see their little girls as their “sweet little baby” that they don’t realize how these sweet little babies look to OTHER people. Do they just get used to the short dresses and short shorts as a toddler and preschoolers and just never adjust their eyes to the pre-teen and teen wearing the same things and not realize how much skin is showing and how inappropriate it is? How can so many parents be so blind? I can’t tell you the young girls that come in to my store with shorts so short that it looks like they have on NO pants at all under their t-shirt. Anyway, a VERY good article and thanks for your time in writing it! (Oh, and I had heard about the dressing room thing but I just wanted to believe it wasn’t true…same as the things I hear about the locker rooms at school…am I truly this out of touch?!?!?)

      • Diana

        Hi Jan,

        Thanks for writing! I DO think a lot of parents are just NOT getting it – they don’t see their daughters sexually, so they just assume others don’t either. BIG mistake. As I said in the article, it never crossed my mind who might be looking until I was with my aunt and cousins in New York. It was one of the biggest eye-openers of my life. As for your son, it’s going to be a challenge for him in a few years, I guarantee. As one of my other readers wrote, “I try to teach my teenage sons to show respect for girls, but then they ask the obvious: ‘Why should we act like gentlemen when they don’t act like ladies?'” What goes around comes around…

    • Amanda

      Agreed. I pick out the dresses and she can choose from them- period.

    • Heather

      I just found your site today after reeling from picking up my 14 year old daughter from her 8th grade dance. Although the school had put out a dress code for attire it was obviously not enforced. The first girls out had hoochie mama dresses with high heels that left nothing to the imagination. These are children! I was appalled. Unfortunately since you published your article it has not gotten better. Kohl’s has shirts that bare midriffs and short shorts for these girls that already are trying to adjust to different bodies. It is for us as parents, and us as a society, to determine what is acceptable. Seeing the scanty options in the junior sections is awful as WE allow our children to be sexualized, and encourage it since marketers want to make what we will buy.

      • Diana

        Hi Heather – I totally agree with you. It IS up to the parents to set the example. Kids will do what they can get away with – and the consequences can be more than they’re prepared for. Always remember the ABCs of dress: appropriate, boundaries, coverage. Make sure clothes are appropriate for the occasion, set boundaries with others, and cover modestly. It’s hard enough being a teenager without drawing unwanted attention. Let them grow up first.

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