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You Want to Wear That?!

Updated on May 7, 2016
Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna wears many hats: writer, mother, crafter. Over the years, she has found what works and what doesn't for herself and her family.

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Ok, so it doesn't what?IT's hard to tell, but my sister is wearing a dress she wore as a flower girl for a wedding.  She wore it around the house all the time. Photo by AMBA friend did this to my daughter, and she loved it!  Photo by AMB
Ok, so it doesn't what?
Ok, so it doesn't what?
IT's hard to tell, but my sister is wearing a dress she wore as a flower girl for a wedding.  She wore it around the house all the time. Photo by AMB
IT's hard to tell, but my sister is wearing a dress she wore as a flower girl for a wedding. She wore it around the house all the time. Photo by AMB
A friend did this to my daughter, and she loved it!  Photo by AMB
A friend did this to my daughter, and she loved it! Photo by AMB

It Starts so Innocently

It starts surprisingly early. That struggle for independence and self-expression. It starts with that first crayon drawing on the bedroom wall, or that first curse word spoken (You even had a swear jar to keep that sort of thing from happening). But, never is the struggle of a child to carve out their own identity more evident than in their clothes.

From the day they learn to dress themselves, they test both your limits, and the limits of fashion, in an effort to be themselves, to show the world who they are, even if that world only consists of their house and daycare.

Whether it's your three year-old daughter who insists on wearing that same pink skirt every day (after all, it's her favorite), no matter how dirty and stained it is, and never mind the fact that it's already too small. Or it's your four year-old son who insists that a Batman costume is the perfect thing to wear to pre-school picture day. Young children feel the need to express themselves through their choices of clothing. More often than not, it will be something strange, and it won't match. On one occasion, my daughter wanted to wear a pretty red and white dress with a blue sweatshirt and her bright, lime green sandals. It was 85 degrees outside, and there was obviously no need for the sweatshirt, and trust me, it looked silly when she put the dress on over it!!! She thought she looked beautiful! How could I argue with that? Since she wasn't going outside that day, I told her to go ahead and wear it if she wanted, but if she wanted to go outside, she had to take off the sweater.

If only it stopped there. Life would be so simple. Children go through phases. It's normal. Unfortunately, the need for self-expression is not a phase. It's a part of growing up, a part of a child's search for their own identity. It may not always be fun, and it may end in arguments, but it's a part of growing up, and as parents, it's just another part of the job.

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Just because Britney dresses this way, doesn't mean your daughter should.If your teen asks if they can get something like this done, just say no!!
Just because Britney dresses this way, doesn't mean your daughter should.
Just because Britney dresses this way, doesn't mean your daughter should.
If your teen asks if they can get something like this done, just say no!!
If your teen asks if they can get something like this done, just say no!!

It Goes From Amusing to Arguments

While the fashion choices of young children is amusing, and sometimes annoying, as children get older, it goes from being sort of funny, to distressing, and often a full-out battle. Yes, I am talking about teenagers!

As kids grown up, and become those nightmarish creatures known as teenagers, the struggle for independence and identity reaches new heights. Teens see themselves as grown up, and they want to be seen that way. They feel that they are capable of making all kinds of important decisions and they are fighting against the authority that you have held over them for so long. In a few short years, they will be adults, and they will have to make all of their decisions for themselves. The teen years are a way of testing those waters, about learning more about who they are, and testing their limits. This extends to their fashion in a way that is much more meaningful than it ever has been.

As I said, teens feel that they are grown up. They want to be seen that way. So, your 13 year-old daughter may decide that it's perfectly OK to wear a micro-mini and a revealing, low cut shirt. So-and-so celeb of the week was wearing something just like it on the cover of Teen Whatever magazine. She may decide she wants to dye her hair blonde, or put crazy colored streaks in it.

Your 16 year-old son may decide that he likes wearing eye liner and black nail polish. Why not? That guy on Idol does it! Never mind that he's 26 years old, and an imerging rock star. Pushing the limits of gender barriers is another common route for teenage expression.

I could go on and on. From ravers, to scene kids, to goth, to punk, to the sluttiest clothes you can imagine (just look at Miley Cyrus lately). From tattoos, to piercings to other stranger methods of body can get scary. It makes a parent cringe to think of what is out there, what people actually wear, and what they do to their bodies, and what could possibly be ahead in the future. If you have young kids, who knows what will be the latest, greatest fashion trend that every teen HAS to be a part of.

Quite often, teens and parents will clash over what each feels is appropriate or OK to wear. A certain amount of self-expression is fine, but as most parents know, you have to draw the line somewhere. But where is that line? How do you know when your child has crossed it? How important is what they wear to who they are? At this stage in their lives, it seems as if what they wear, or how they look is the single most important thing in the world. It is often just harmless, so let you child be who they think they are. More often than not, they will grow out of it, and eventually, they will become a rather normal person.

Like I said, you have to draw the line somewhere. Letting your daughter out of the house in a virtually see-through dress would definitely be over the line. Letting her dye her hair black with some blue streaks isn't that big of a deal. Letting your son get implants in his face to look like he has ridges in his forehead is extreme, but letting him wear all black clothes and a little eye liner isn't going to do any permanent damage.

Just make sure you talk to your kids. Make sure that their strange new style isn't a symptom of something else. Trauma, depression, a tragic event, or drug use can be a cause for a drastic change in attitude and appearance. Talk to your kids and try to find out if this new look is just a search for their own identity or if it's a sign of something else. Approach the subject carefully, so that they don't feel as if they are being attacked or accused of something. Just ask them what they like about the clothes they are asking for, or why did they decide that they wanted to dye their hair blue. Sometimes you will get a straight answer, and sometimes you won't, but often enough, a good parent will be able to tell if their child hesitates in an answer, or if they seem to be bothered by something.

Would You Let Your Teen Dress Like This???

© 2009 Anna Marie Bowman


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It's at least an interesting issue.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      8 years ago from Florida

      terry-- I don't know if this is a joke or not. If not, it is by far one of the most disturbing things I have heard in a long time. Why would anyone want to do this?? Why would you allow it?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      to the mom of the 13 year old daughter who likes diapers and rubber pants:my 16 year old daughter is going thru catholic confirmation this may and has to wear a poofy floor length white dress with a veil,gloves shoes,tights.she laid a bombshell on me the other night and told me she wants me to make her a cloth diaper to wear under her tights and get her plastic pants to wear over it.i was dumbfunded and asked her why and she said that she read an article in a magazine about girls wearing diapers and that they male girls feel more pure and infant like in white dresses.she also told me a few of the other girls in her class are wearing them also so she wants to also.i asked her if she was serious and she said yes,that she wants me to put them on her and wear them all day.i would love to have her in a diaper and rubber pants under her dress knowing she is extra pure but i dont know as a mom if i should let her do it or not.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Anouser-- I talk to my daughter often about what is appropriate and what isn't. She is still fairly young, so I know I have many battles ahead of me.

      vocalcoach-- Thank you! After reading your comment, I had to go back and read it again, myself.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      8 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      A great hub! I enjoyed it so much the first time, I had to go back and read it again. I laughed and giggled until my face hurt. I am a fan!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I think you shall start at an early age, teaching your daughter about some "Dress Code Discipline", it's not about scaring her to death obeying your every command, but talk with her what she is allowed to wear and not, and also in which situations you as a parent can restrict her clothing (like special events). After all, the parent is the boss until the daughter's 18.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      8 years ago from Florida

      No need to apologize. All comments are welcomed, with the exception of vulgar comments, bullying comments or anything like that. I even approve comments where people call me all sorts of horrible names...and I can only imagine how many times you have to sit there and think, "Is this really worth making an issue over?" Much respect to you for what you do!!

    • ACSutliff profile image


      8 years ago

      That reminds me of my day at school today. I tried not to and kept trying not to, but I eventually had to choose a battle that I wanted to save for another day which wasn't the first day of school.... Long story short, I had to ask a student to put his ruler away. HAHA

      Sorry for the strange unrelated post... Your comment just made me think about choosing my battles in the classroom!

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Pamela-- I know I have so much to look forward to. My daughter is only seven, and still it's a struggle just to get her to wear stuff that matches. And then, there was the day she decided to do her own make-up. That was say the least.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This hub make me glad my children are grown as it takes a lot of energy and a watchful eye to keep up with teens. I love the pictures and good information.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      8 years ago from Florida

      AC-- Like everything in life, you really do have to choose your battles. Thank you!!!

    • ACSutliff profile image


      8 years ago


      I love those comparisons you do at the end. Horns or eye liner? Sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles so that you aren't always fighting with your teens, huh? Excellent writing, and I totally dig the humor.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Anouser-- Thank you for clarifying your first comment. Makes a little more sense.

      a mom-- Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      a mom 

      8 years ago

      our daughter just turned 13 and still hasn't started to develop yet.we baptized her 3 years ago[catholic] and dressed her in the traditional white baby girl type outfit-a poofy mid thigh length dress with bonnet,lace anklets and shoes.we did a regular cloth diaper and rubber pants on her under the dress with her under shirt.she liked the cute dress with the diaper and rubber pants under it and still wears the dress with just the rubber pants under it even now at 13.she likes the feeling of being cute and little girlish.i wonder how long she will wear the outfit as she gets older!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I don't say you always need to act like that, most parents today just require their children to dress up for special occasions, like parties, birthdays, Christmas. You can let them choose clothes for ordinary days, as long it's not these ugly sex clothes turning a cute little girl into a sex object.

      Also, girls can end up in dangerous situations, because of all sexist stupidity existing in today's society, both at school and out on the streets in town, and that's sad and not their fault. Imagine if your teenage daughter is going out with a boyfriend to some restaurant or something, it's better to tell her to wear a long-sleeved blouse than be to revealing in such a situation.

      I doubt children who grow up under strict conditions, but weren't abused and their parents cared for them, tend to rebel with violence or crime as children growing up under bad conditions, that's why I like the "19th century" method (even if it was probably used mostly by the upper class) better than the "sex clothes", but it doesn't meen I support everything.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      8 years ago from Florida

      Anouser-- Extremes on either end aren't a great idea. I agree a parent has a right to restrict what kinds of clothing a child wears, but being too strict can lead to other problems, as well. Some children will rebel against authority, and the stricter the authority, the more outrageous the rebellion.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I agree. Even parents requiring the strictest and most formal dresscode ever for their daughters have so much better rules in the clothing issue than those who allow her to look like that. I don't care if that smells like the 19th century and the daughters hate it, better an old-style long sleeved white blouse with collar and a black skirt going at least until the kneess or even longer, than these clothes. A teenage girl is not a sex worker.

      Until the girl reaches 18, every parent has the right to say no to their daughter being turned into a sex slave to media.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      8 years ago from Florida

      thehis-- Ahhh...the skinny jean fad! I am amused to see guys running around in skinny jeans. As for turquoise and purple on guys, I don't get it either. Those were cliché girl colors when I was a kid.

      LPogue-- I can't even begin to imagine what will be in fashion when I get to the age of having grandchildren. I am content to deal with my daughter's own budding fashion sense.

      katiem2-- That's a smart approach. I am doing pretty much the same thing with my daughter. I teach her about clothes, what looks good, what doesn't, teach her about make-up, while she's still young, so maybe I won't have crazy issues when she gets older. I let her pick out her clothes, wear what she wants, but guide her through it, teaching her about colors, matching, etc. It is fun for her. As for keeping her room clean...well, that's a struggle.

      epigramman-- I hope you made it to the bathroom on time! Glad you enjoyed the Hub!!

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      I laughed so hard that I forgot to go to the bathroom - and it's on Mars!

    • katiem2 profile image


      8 years ago from I'm outta here

      COOL Hub, I have an 11 and 13 year old, both girls. I let em wear what they want and always have, just guide them to the mechanics of it and it's paid off so far they are quicker to tell me what not to wear then me them. I know SO many parents have issues. THIS is a FAB Hub and will be really helpful to many. Live and let live and the journey is much sweeter. Now if you can help me get my 11 year old to CLEAN HER ROOM...that's another hub...Thanks and Peace:)

    • LPogue profile image


      9 years ago from Missouri

      I had a few battles with my daughter, but now that I have grandchildren, I realize that her fashion extremes were pretty mild!

    • thehis profile image


      9 years ago from San Diego

      You've inspired me! I think I'm going to have to write my second hub on how there is an inverse relationship between the skinniness of my 11 year old son's jeans and his grades. God I hate them. Since when did turquoise and purple become fashionable on boys?

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      9 years ago from Florida

      Enelle-- Amazing she got her hair to stand up that tall!! It must have been quite a sight!!!

      bc99-- Ha...I'm still waiting.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Lol been there, got the t-shirt !

    • Enelle Lamb profile image

      Enelle Lamb 

      9 years ago from Canada's 'California'

      Too true! I have a picture somewhere of my daughter with her hair was like 2 feet long - straight up LMAO! And to top it off, she actually got compliments on it...

      I'm just too old I think LOL

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      9 years ago from Florida

      TMB-- Emo is rather interesting to deal with from a parent's perspective. Thankfully, my daughter is still young. She just wants to wear pink and watch Hannah Montana. LOL!! Glad you liked the hub!!

    • TheMindlessBrute profile image


      9 years ago from Orlando,Florida


      I am so glad I just bumped into this page,my daughter is "Emo" I'm still not really sure what that is but we've been at war over hair dye.She wanted to dye her hair black,with blue streaks.I've comprimised on the black and holding the line on the streaks.I have to rethink my position and that's a good thing.You're right about it being the single most important thing in the world to her.Excellent article and greatly appreciated.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      9 years ago from Florida

      G|M-- Ha ha!! Thanks for your comment!! It made me laugh!! I agree, no one wants to see someone's ass cheeks hanging out of their tiny, bright orange micromini!! LOL!!

    • GeneriqueMedia profile image


      9 years ago from Earth

      Way cool Hub! Great stories and pix.

      Loved your captions, too.

      "..decked out like skittles.." haha

      Dang ravers. I had these two girls come in once wearing these ridiculous tops, fishnets, and microminis in traditional rainbow brite graver status.

      ICK. Just..ick. No one wants to see your ass cheeks hanging out. And if they do, they're not into your personality.


    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      9 years ago from Florida

      C.S. Alexis-- I agree, except, I don't think I would let my daughter go out dressed in say a micro mini skirt, and a barely there, see-through top, until she was...I don't know...30! LOL!

    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      9 years ago from NW Indiana

      I am with Earnest until it comes to physical permanency such as tats, implants and piercings, then I say wait 'til you are 21!

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      9 years ago from Florida

      Dolores-- It's fun to look back at how our kids expressed themselves when they were really little. The girl with the crazy ponytails is my daughter. Thank you!! I think she's pretty adorable, myself!!

      CR-- Thank you! It isn't easy, but it's well worth it!!

      Shalini-- Sounds like you have a great daughter!!! Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

      BP-- Thank you so much!!

      shamelabbousch-- Yeah, teens think they know everything, but thankfully, the get past that, and realize how little they really know.

      earnestshub-- I agree that children should be able to express themselves freely, but certain things should be off limits. Anything permanent, that they would seriously regret later on should never be done hastily. When they are little, and want to dress like a princess everyday, that's fine.

      LM-- My daughter went through that phase around 2 or 3. She would strip all her clothes off whenever she got the chance to. I can't count the number of times I would find her in her room, in just her diaper in the morning.

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 

      9 years ago

      My daughters have been very conservative so far. My 3 year old son, however is very particular about his clothes. He will NOT wear any button-down shirt with a collar. Polos are as dressy as he will get. And even then, grudgingly. And that's when he wears a shirt. He's into this "less is more" phase.

    • earnestshub profile image


      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Turn em loose I say! I love the way kids express themselves with clothes. No harm in it that I can see. (I have 3 kids and 6 gkids) I let em run amuck!

    • shamelabboush profile image


      9 years ago

      This is very true. Teenagers are very tough to handle and talk to. They think they are right in everything and all the world is just wrong...

    • blondepoet profile image


      9 years ago from australia

      Anna absolutely well done, thoroughly enjoyed reading that. Oh the trends and phases we all go through from early life

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      9 years ago from India

      How true! I learned early to set limits and not bother about the choices - though yes, there were times when I could have pulled my hair out. Thankfully, those moments were few and far between. Happy to say at 17, my daughter's pretty mature :) (Fingers and toes crossed)

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      9 years ago from St. Louis

      I often wondered how I would handle this stuff if I were a parent. In the end, I'm just glad I don't have to. Two thumbs up.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      One of my sons was a very creative dresser in Kindergarten, he looked so cute! You could pick him out across the whole campus! In later years he said 'why did you let me dress like a nut?' Maybe that's why he wore all black as a teen.

      I loved the little girl in the crazy pony tails. She looks adorable!

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      9 years ago from Florida

      Cris-- You are right, almost but not quite! I went through my own strange fashion thing when I was a teen. It was as if I had multiple personality disorder. I couldn't decide on a specific style, so I tried just about everything. I am still kind of that way.

      e cigarette-- You daughter certainly had her own style! Those are the great memories that come back to us years later and still make us smile. I have many of those, from my own childhood, to my little sister, to my own daughter. Glad I could make you smile.

      Frieda-- Hmmm...never thought about that. I am removing the full length mirror from my house right away!!! It brings to mind images of a little girl, all decked out in mommy's best clothes, complete with make-up, standing in front of the mirror, admiring herself! And yes, you are doomed. LOL!!

    • Frieda Babbley profile image

      Frieda Babbley 

      9 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      What a fantastic idea for this topic! Way awesome. Love it. Thankfully I haven't run into any of this yet. There's only one mirror in my house and that's in the bathroom and they can't see theselves all the way down. That helps with the obsession I think. ...I'm in for it aren't I. It'll come when I least expect it. I'm doomed.

    • profile image

      e cigarette 

      9 years ago

      great hub. My 16 year old daughter has always had her own sense of style. When she was about 6 she would accessorize her outfits with beads, a lai, a boa, a hat, sunglasses, bracelettes, all together. I just never really thought much about it until we showed up at the movies one day, with her decked out (can you imagine?) and people smiled and just shook their heads. She's still outlandish, but no more boa. Thanks BTW, this memory made me smile.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      I agree, kids express themselves and their independence through what they wear and how they wear it. To them, it's the closest thing to being an adult. But as in most cases, "almost but not quite". And we know "not quite" is "not good enough" :D

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      9 years ago from Florida

      Triplet Mom-- I agree, you have to learn to pick your battles when it comes to the choices kids want to make.

      GT-- You didn't?? Saggy pants with your boxers showing?? I imagine your dad was embarrassed. LOL!

      Elena-- Thanks! I saw the topic, and I wasn't really inspired to do anything at first. I have kids, and I buy clothes, but I don't have any special secrets, stuff I really love, or anything like that. I had no idea what to do.

      AEvans-- My cousin is much younger than me, and she is about 16 now. She is definitely pushing the limits with her mom. She wants to get a tattoo, and she dresses kind of punk, but nothing too bad.

      Sixty-- It is a tough topic. I was at a loss at first. Then the idea just came to me. My sister was the inspiration for it. Where I talk about a girl who wants to wear the same pink skirt every day, yeah, that was my sister.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 

      9 years ago from South Africa

      Great take on what I originally thought was a tough topic. I haven't been too inspired until now, but I am still percolating on this one.

      Great hub. I remember the arguments over what our kids wanted to wear. I now see my grandkids decked out in all sorts of weird outfits. They dress themselves and I guess the Mom's just cave in!

    • AEvans profile image


      9 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      My niece has tried to push her limits with everybody including me , it isn't happening she is only 13. What the heck were those bumps on that person's head? Good grief that is taking to the limit. lololo :D I love the hub!!

    • Elena. profile image


      9 years ago from Madrid

      Hi Anna! Great twist on the hubmob, I had fun reading this and, again, I'm (1) glad I decided kids weren't for me, and (2) glad I don't remember my tenage years and my clothing habits! Laugh!

    • goldentoad profile image


      9 years ago from Free and running....

      I have yet to go through this with my kids, but I'm sure I embarrassed my dad with the way I wore my pants(yes I sagged!) but what embarrasses me is how I used to walk around in the summertime without a shirt on and my boxers showing!

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      Lol! Someone who understands my daily pain. I have learned to pick my battles now and sometimes you just have to let kids do their own things.


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