Just. Don’t.

Every weekend – it seems – there’s a different school in my area having prom. This means my Facebook feed is filled with beautiful photos of kids dressed their best for a night of magic. And without fail – every weekend – I see random comments snarking on wardrobe choices. Thankfully, these were all friends-of-friends, but STILL. These were all adults disparaging the outfits of teenagers.

“What a lovely photo. And all of the girls in this photo are dressed classy unlike others I’ve seen.

Oh really? You’ve seen pictures of teenage girls dressed for prom and you actually allowed yourself to assign a level of “class” to them based on their dress? REALLY? What – exactly – is a non-classy dress? I’m dying to know what a teenager has to be wearing for her most special night to make you think, Uggg. So classless.

“Who is the girl in the white?” “That’s so-in-so’s girlfriend, she’s from a different school I don’t know her.” “Uggg. I just can’t believe the parents don’t mind their daughters wearing those midriff-baring dresses. It’s so slutty.”

Good for you, lady. Good for you for seeing a photo of a lovely girl in a dress that shows LESS SKIN THAN HER BATHING SUIT and you commenting on her characters negatively because of that. I’m super-proud of your boldness and your willingness to stand up for purity everywhere…I hope that message gets back to the parents.

“Is there no dress code for Proms anymore? I can’t believe how many two piece dresses with slits to the thighs I’ve seen! It’s so sad!”

Yes. That’s what’s sad. Not the unfair and unrealistic beauty standards our media places on our girls…Not the double standards we raise our girls with defining “slutty” verses “studly” with their male counterparts…and DEFINITELY not strange women feeling like they are doing the right thing by criticizing the appearances of young women. Nope. None of those things are sad. Only the lack of a dresscode at prom.

Listen, I get it. I’ve seen girls wearing shorts that are basically underwear and my instinctive thought is often: Oh, NO! That’s not appropriate! But that’s our reaction based on these bizarre and unrealistic definitions of class and beauty that media and society have defined for us. SQUASH THOSE INSTINCTS. Don’t add power to those perceptions by actually TYPING THEM OUT ON FACEBOOK. Instead, think about what the world would be like if we would quit judging young girls based on the clothes they wear. If we would quick shaming girls for their wardrobe choices. Instead, what if we taught girls the value of loving the body they were given and the thrill of dressing it in a way that makes them happy. Do you know how often I like what I’m wearing? ALMOST NEVER. If a young girl leaves the house feeling good about herself and loving her body? She is 100 steps ahead of me…no matter what she is wearing.

We need to be examples and we can’t let these comments be heard or read by the girls who know us. We must celebrate self-love and worry about a girl more if she seems sad than if she’s underdressed. And let’s watch it with the double-standards. We need to guide our girls to love themselves as a full package and as a real human body and we can’t do that if they hear or see us snarky on “classy” levels in their peers. Let’s just refrain from critiquing any clothing a young woman wears unless she comes to us and says: Tell me the truth, what do you think?

And while we’re at it…let’s not snark on people’s appearance at all. Let’s not make comments about whether someone should be wearing a white triathlon suit, let’s not comment on someone’s weight gain, let’s not discuss someone’s fashion choices. Let’s make appearance something we NEVER DISCUSS because even though the person you’re discussing may never know, the person you’re saying it to will. I am scared to wear a bikini because I’ve heard too many women make derogatory comments about overweight women in bikinis. So your words might not have made it to the person you were mocking, but they made it to me, and now I can’t try on a bikini without hearing your voice in my head.

All of your words have power…but especially words discussing another’s appearance. Those words have terrible ripple effects. Women are raised with unrealistic expectations. We live in a society where half of my Facebook feed is ads for anti-wrinkle cream and now the wrinkles I never noticed yell at me every day and say: YOU ARE OLD. Your comment about how anyone who wore “THIS ITEM FROM THE 90s” should call you about wrinkle cream makes me embarrassed now whenever I smile in a picture.

Comments on beauty and fashion and appearance echo in the ears of the insecure for years after they’ve been spoken.

Keep them to yourself.

4 thoughts on “Just. Don’t.”

  1. I’ve been working so hard on this. To not comment on clothes except for appropriateness for occasion (like a coat for cold or not wearing flannel in the heat). It was really hard at first but I’m getting better at it. These kids don’t need to hear how they’d be so pretty if they’d just wear something different. They don’t need to prioritize pretty, they can do what they want and girls shouldn’t be slutshamed and told their bodies are distracting and need to be covered.

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