Thursday 22 August 2019

Dear David Coleman: 'I'm not happy about what my daughter wears to discos, or her posting pictures on social media'

"She has shown me photos of her friends and they are all dressing the same". Stock photo
'Being just like their peers feels critically important to the sense of self and developing identity of almost every 13-year-old'

Q My daughter is 13 years old and has just started going to discos. I'm not happy with what she is wearing and have tried to talk to her, but she is really headstrong. She also posts pictures on social media. My family are shocked by this. She is doing great at school and is a lovely girl. She has shown me photos of her friends and they are all dressing the same. What should I do?

David replies: Being just like their peers feels critically important to the sense of self and developing identity of almost every 13-year-old.

They will fear being perceived to be in any way different to their friends and the possible social and emotional isolation that may follow.

It is important to talk with your daughter about sex, sexuality, and the way that she portrays herself to appear "attractive", including how others may then perceive her. But there are forces at play here which are greater than your daughter's "headstrong" desire to dress in a particular way.

I think we need to look, as a society, at the messages that young girls get about their bodies, and the sexualised way in which they are expected to dress and act.

Society, with the ever-extending reach of the internet, has been sexualising young teenagers for several generations. We live in an increasingly sexualised world and young teenagers simply mirror that.

Banding together with other, like-minded parents may be the first place to start to open up these broader conversations about the way we may be allowing our children's childhoods to be corrupted.

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