Sisterhood Blog

Insisting That Young Girls Dress Like Children — Not Kardashians

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

  • Print
  • Share Share

Jennifer Moses wrote a recent and much-discussed Wall Street Journal essay titled “Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?” It opens with the writer listening in on a clutch of 12- and 13-year-old girls in the ladies room at a bat mitzvah party as they discuss other girls. The girls are, as you might expect, dressed in too-short dresses, long earrings and Kardashian-esque eye makeup.

It was a different bat mitzvah party than the one I recently attended where a 13-year-old guest wore what appeared to be 6-inch stilettos and a skirt so tight and short that she literally couldn’t sit down without giving the 7th-grade boys even more to see than she had planned. But it could have been any one of a countless number of such parties where the girls dress like hookers.

Now, I’m no advocate of the Jewish burqa look either. On the way to do some pre-Passover shopping at Pomegranate today, I saw this store, “Tznius Princess,” where the wedding gowns in the window had more fabric than Carol Burnett’s take on Scarlett O’Hara’s in “Gone with the Wind.” I’ve written here about turning to Mormon shopping websites in my attempt to find dresses that are neither overly bare nor overly burqa-esque for my daughters to wear.

Even allowing for the fact that good taste and judgment are relative, I, like Moses, wonder where these girls’ parents are when their daughters go out dressed like this – and, of course, why they are paying for those dresses. And yet I disagree with Moses when she says, in a Wall Street Journal podcast, “If my daughter wants to use my Amex card to buy something I think is incredibly cheesy and inappropriate, I won’t pay for it…I can’t stop her from using her babysitting money to buy something if she wants it, but I won’t pay for her to look like a hooker.”

I’m not sure how old her daughter is now, but I think she can stop her daughter, or at least influence her so that she realizes that the clothes send messages that she probably doesn’t want to. The problem is rooted in our discomfort in saying “no” to our kids — as in “No, you can’t use your babysitting money to buy inappropriate clothes.”

I’m routinely a little surprised and relieved to see how much influence I have on my kids. Granted, my 17-year-old son isn’t a rebel, and his sisters, at 10 and 12, are too young yet to do any radically provocative pushing back. But I also see, and am still amazed by, the power of what I say to them when it comes to influencing their choices (though also frustrated by my own powerlessness when it comes to putting an end to their bickering, or getting them to hang up their coats when they walk in the door).

Still, when it comes to what matters most, I think we mothers have more power than we sometimes want to wield.

We went to a bat mitzvah this weekend at an Orthodox shul and it was a breath of fresh air amid all of this craziness. The bat mitzvah girl gave an excellent d’var Torah from the bimah to both the men and the women present; her dad made a few emotional remarks praising his wife as the eishes chayil and excellent role model for their daughter that she is; the kiddush luncheon was delicious (and impressively cooked by the mom). Above all, the day was about the girl, her family and their community of friends. It wasn’t about having the glitziest, most excessive party. Instead, it was focused on what all bar and bat mitzvahs should be about. And the girl at the center of all this, along with her friends, looked like … actual girls.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Wardrobe, Bat Mitzvah, Jennifer Moses, Clothing

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.