Last week I wrote an article for The Daily Mail on why women should stop body-shaming other women, particularly in front of their own young children. The Mail gave the article the title of "Why I'm happy for my daughters to wear revealing dresses
" which was only part of the whole picture, but of course got the article a lot of attention, including over 1.5million shares across various platforms, being discussed on The View in the US and resulted in an appearance on Loose Women for me. But it seemed that everyone really missed the point and spent most of the time arguing with me about why my daughter's clothes were inappropriate, particularly the dress for my 15-year-old which really, let's face it, is not vulgar in the least.
I honestly couldn't see what all the fuss was about! It appears though that our social conditioning is so in-depth that people were more bothered by the fact that dresses like these may get unwanted attention from men or even get them raped ( yes the comments were vicious) rather than addressing the simple issue that women need to stop body-shaming other women.
So I proved my point; I wrote an article about women shaming other women and women body-shamed my daughters! I know what you are thinking, I shouldn't write an article like this and not expect this sort of attention; I'm not complaining, I just thought it interesting that everyone missed my point.
Opinion came out on two sides; most young women agreeing with me and most older women slamming me, which is interesting in itself and I don't even want to hazard a guess as to the reasons why - maybe another Daily Mail piece.
After the Loose Women appearance something strange happened though. Young girls started sending me pictures of the outfits in which they had been told to cover up, or had got unwanted attention in.
These outfits ranged from school uniforms to a crop top with a shirt, however none of these were outfits that could be classed as inappropriate, which kind of balances the argument. Apparently, girls should not wear revealing outfits because they will get attention. Newsflash! They get in anyway, whatever they are wearing.
So here are the points I really want to make with this article.
1. Girls/women should be able to wear whatever they want, when they want. When you tell a girl to cover up because she might get unwanted attention, you are teaching her to feel shame for her body.
2. Is it the girls who should cover up, or should we be raising boys to respect girls more and not to salivate at the sight of skin? And to be honest, I find this argument disrespectful to men; it insinuates that they have no brain and have no respect for the opposite sex, which I think in the majority of men is not true at all.
3. Girls are not raped because of what they are wearing! I am an ex-police officer and I have dealt with rape victims dressed in all sorts. Your clothes have nothing to do with someone's choice to rape another. Telling a girl that she is asking for it is wrong and should never happen.
4. Pedophiles do not suddenly become pedophiles because they see a 15-year-old showing her shoulders! Again I have have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with a few of these in my time and clothes were not what drove them to do what they did. If someone has these inclinations, they have them whatever the child wears.
5. If a girl wears something revealing it does not mean she is a whore, or will have sex and get pregnant. I mean, what kind of messed up thinking is that! The length of a girl's skirt has nothing to do with the size of her self-respect.
6. Body image is a huge issue. There are many causes, some easy to deal with some not so easy. However, the easiest way we can start to help young girls feel better about their bodies is to stop making them feel shame. Shame by telling them to cover up, telling them an outfit might attract attention, or insinuating that they are asking for it.
No young girl or women deserves to feel shame about their body, whatever clothes she puts on.
We must stop this outdated thinking and ask deeper questions if we are ever to combat the hatred young girls feel towards their bodies.