The Age of the Prosti-Tots

I will preface this article by stating I am the mother of boys. Two amazing boys I wouldn’t trade for the world (on most days).  I am aware I am writing this article through the lens of a mom with without daughters.  I tread lightly…

I have on been on a World Mitzvah Tour since September. From NJ, NY, Westchester, Long Island, and Philly, it’s been a non-stop parade of outrageous parties. I still can’t seem to wrap my head around the amount of money being dished out for these extraordinary productions. Besides the ultra lavish decor and James Beard awarded chefs, the music guests have ranged from Fetty Wap to Nick Jonas to Nelly. When I recently received a call from my son at the last Bar Mitzvah asking if we could get “Drake”to perform at his, I turned to Greg and said,”Pack your shit, we are moving to Vermont for a year, I am done.” How did it get this out of control?

Not only are the parties so insane but I am floored, absolutely stunned when the 13 year-old girls walk through the door in super high heels with skin-tight dresses that barely cover their tush. I am not saying these girls don’t look amazing but they certainly do not look like the thirteen year-olds I was and knew growing up. More like thirteen going on eighteen. I am even more surprised that the parents are okay with allowing their young daughters to walk into a temple half-naked.  I realize that these dresses are “in”. I know what it is like to want to look hip, to fit in, to not feel like the loser who has to wear 2″ kitten heels when all of their friends are wearing 5″ Steve Madden platform shoes. I get it. I really do. I remember the battles I used to have with my mom over clothing.

BUT there is a way to look classy and not trashy. I believe this is a conversation moms should be having with their daughters the minute they turn eleven. YES 11. By allowing your daughters to wear these provocative dresses at such a young age, we, as parents, are normalizing it and spreading the message that sexy = beautiful. Don’t we want our daughters to have confidence in their own skin without having to wear next to nothing?

I ask myself, is it the mom’s who are trying to live vicariously through their daughters by buying these dresses, shoes and makeup? On some level I have to think yes because they are posting pictures of their daughters on social media in these sexy dresses and telling the world it’s okay, they look great! But don’t you see, when we decide that it’s okay, it sets up our girls to be seen as mere objects instead of the beautiful girls they truly are.  We need our daughters to feel good about themselves from their accomplishments, grades, sports, being a good friend, not from how they “look”.

I wonder how my son’s standards and opinions of girls is being shaped by the way these young girls are dressing.  As a mother, I can only teach my boys not to objectify women, how to respect them and how to be a perfect gentleman. I cannot teach them what to see or how to interpret what they see.  When they notice a pretty girl in a skin-tight dress next a pretty girl in a more appropriate dress, even at this young age, instincts and hormones take over. It may never be possible to know what long-term effects this has on their view of women but I have a feeling that it’s clouding their judgment.

In the end, it’s up to us as the parents to allow what is acceptable for our young daughters to wear. I realize we all have to pick and choose our battles but there is a fine line between appropriate and prosti-tot, right?

Share Your Thoughts

  1. Roberta

    Some girls get dressed at other girls’ homes befoere the event. Often, their parents have no idea that their daughter changed clothes at the friend’s house.

    March 18, 2017 • 4:50 pm •
  2. Sherry B

    Well said and totally agree! I’m a young at heart fashion conscious Nana to twin girls who are about to have their bnot Mitzvah this May. I’ve survived the Mitzvah whirlwind experience having raised three daughters on the north shore of Chicago. I’ve certainly learned that taste and money have no direct correlation. Wearing age appropriate clothing and make up should start and end with the parents, Twelve and thirteen year old girls need to express their individuality within guidelines set at home.
    Ironic that your post on this subject came up, as last night I watched the 2006 movie “Keeping Up With The Steins,” while it’s not about dressing appropriately, it does feature a humorous and meaningful look into the Mitzvah world. Worth searching Stars on demand.

    March 19, 2017 • 9:44 am •
  3. pamb

    As a mom from the Midwest, let me just say that I never knew that ‘real’ people actually did things like hire Nick Jonas to perform at a Mitzvah. Obviously, you run in fancy circles! 🙂

    Coming from a larger town, my current community’s Mitzvahs are almost old fashioned. On more than one invite I’ve seen “it’s a party, dress up!” because otherwise who knows what people would wear. I used “cocktail attire” on mine, figuring the parents would know that meant their kids should dress up, but it’s ultimately up to the kid and the parent.

    It’s always girls who are sexualized, and it’s always girls who are shamed and punished for it. Boys are allowed to be covered up, but if a girl is, she’s frumpy. Dress codes at schools exist to punish girls, not boys, to protect boys who can’t “keep their mind on their school work”.

    I think there has to be a middle ground between a dress that’s too adult and one that’s too babyish. And no one wants their daughter to be the only one making a stand.

    March 19, 2017 • 10:06 am •
  4. SA

    Amen ! My daughter may hate me but at least she doesn’t look like she is interviewing for a job on 42nd St. My teenager sons tell me they look but not interested in girls who show the world their bodies. My boys have even reprimanded their sister at camp when I have 0 control. It’s even more ridiculous when moms/daughters enter Temple competing whose skirt is shorter. You mentioned 11 years old. I started with my daughter at age 3. She has to bend over when wearing either a dress or a skirt. Start teaching them early.

    March 19, 2017 • 10:49 am •
  5. Shari-Beth Susskind

    Right! – Mother of 3 boys….

    March 19, 2017 • 4:51 pm •
  6. Car

    Loved reading about the girls and how they dress today for the bar mitzahs. So true. They are looking like 13 going on 20

    March 19, 2017 • 5:33 pm •
  7. Ginger

    I appreciate that you took on this issue. I do. I would say that if this is “treading lightly,” I am not sure I want to see this essay in combat boots. I have two teenage daughters. I have heard variations of this POV for years… and it always comes from mothers of boys. Always. I wish I could put out a jacket and tie and call it a day. Think of the simplicity! Think of the savings! But teenage girls are not teenage boys. I am a mom who does say NO to clothes. For example, the whole “words-on-your-butt” thing (on shorts, on sweatpants, on Pink yoga pants) really drove me nuts. Um, what is the purpose of putting words across someone’s butt if not to draw attention to the butt. Why do I want anyone look at the butt of my pre-teen and teenage daughters? I don’t. I forbade anything with words on the butt. Also, no crop tops, etc, etc. etc.. I insisted that they have shrugs to cover their shoulders for services in shul. But here’s the thing: without spending into the thousands for clothes that are only going to be worn a couple of times (again, please, you really don’t understand unless you have walked in these sensible shoes – they would rather stay home than wear the same dress more than 2x during the Bar/Bat Mitzvah cycle), options are limited. Go to the mall with $250 (that was the budget I gave each of my daughters). Get your bat/bar mitzvah outfits. GO. One’s options are limited to what is in the stores and I wasn’t going to spend outrageously on one-year party clothes (another value choice). In my case, I also had a very tall daughter (5’8″ in the 7th grade). Dresses in the junior’s department were waaaaay too short. I had to shop in the Women’s Dept with her which left her feeling like a middle-aged soccer mom. It was very challenging and many tears were shed. When we found something that fit and wasn’t obscenely short, we went for it. That whole, “walk a mile in my shoes” thing has a point. Please accompany a friend who just has daughters (I’m sure you have some) to the mall the next time they are party-dress shopping. Spend the afternoon. Peruse the rounders and racks. Stand outside the changing room and listen to the negotiations. And the tears.

    March 19, 2017 • 8:29 pm •
  8. Priscilla

    Good for you. I also don’t think clothes like these give boys permission to sexualize girls. I notice that the moms of these girls treat them as friends and contemporaries, not parent/child.

    March 19, 2017 • 10:58 pm •
  9. Very important statement, Rabbi and very eloquently stated. Thank you!

    March 20, 2017 • 11:25 am •
  10. Beata

    Can not agree more! thank you for putting it down in writing!

    March 21, 2017 • 8:14 pm •