Q: Why does a worker wear a Carhartt coat to the winter construction site?
Q: Why does a 15 year old girl wear yoga pants to high school?
Clue: The answer to both questions is exactly the same.
Before I reveal the astounding answer, let’s see how the purveyors of Carhartts and yoga pants promote their product.
Two wildly different commercials, wouldn’t you say? I wouldn’t.
I think they are advertising the exact same thing in the exact same way.
A: The answer to both questions above is simply, “to get what they want”.
In economics, the term is utility – a measure a satisfaction that a product or service delivers.
A bush pilot, a hunter, an outdoor winter construction worker all want something specific – warmth. Carharrt, so I’m told, is a leading manufacturer of outerwear that satisfactorily keeps people warm.
A female girl on her way into high school, college classroom, the mall, etc, wants something – acceptance. Yoga pants satisfactorily deliver acceptance because they are allegedly stylish, currently in fashion, and maybe most importantly for young girls, yoga pants visually attract the attention of young men.
Whether Carhartts or yoga pants, saggy jeans or flannel shirts, most people (who have the means to afford a choice) choose clothes that deliver utility – clothes that get them what they want.
Bear all that in mind as I refer to a blog posted last Friday by Fathers.com. Entitled “What’s Your Daughter Wearing?”, the article wisely encouraged dads to talk to their daughters about what they wore. The article posed a difficult discussion topic: “Where do you draw the line with modesty?” I wrote a friend, the editor at Fathers.com, and asked, “Why does it matter?”
Now I’m asking my readership the same question, Does it matter, to you, what your teen daughter wears in public? If it does matter, can you express why it matters? As a dad, I’ve tried very, very hard to not be “a legislative parent” crowing “those are my rules and you have to follow them”. My parents were like that and I don’t want to repeat that folly.
Before I lay down the law with my kids, I challenge myself to defend my law first, in light of impartial truth and secondly, in light of what is really essential for me to impart to me children. I survived the 60s and 70s battle over boys with long hair. It was a stupid and worthless battle – on both sides – I’m not going to knowingly repeat that mistake as a parent.
The Fathers.com article encouraged dads to talk with older [teen] daughters and “tell her exactly what a young man is thinking when he sees a woman in a revealing or suggestive outfit.” I totally agree.
Boys have one track minds. Whether you believe in special creation or evolution, the results are in. Males are hard-wired to think (virtually non-stop) about sex. (If you don’t believe that, I’m sorry for your blindness. This discussion is not for you.) Men are especially visually stimulated. King David didn’t fall for Bathsheba until he saw her bathing outdoors. An insightful interview with Henry Kissinger never made the centerfold of Playboy Magazine.
Clothing styles have changed a lot over the years. Poodle skirts of the 50s and preppy khakis of the 80s were the watermelon and corn-on-the-cob of the Fourth of July picnic. Yoga pants are the fireworks grand finale. Whether a girl consciously intends to arouse boys visually by wearing yoga pants… well, we can play that game for a long time, can’t we? But let’s say that she is simply wearing tight-fitting, form-following leggings because she doesn’t want to appear dowdy and unfashionable. I’ll allow that as a true and innocent motivation. But a girl’s motivation does not define how boys will perceive her!
The question lingers, does yoga pants girl (YPG) intend to arouse the boys? I have no way of knowing. Many will say that there is a difference between dressing sexy and dressing sexually. Many will say that YPG just wants to be trendy and in style. We cannot, must not judge YPG’s motives.
But we must also embrace facts. Somewhere between 40% and 70% of teen girls aged 15 to 19 have had sex. I would be hard pressed to be convinced that, given this high incidence of sexual behavior, that YPG does NOT know what she’s doing. (In other words, I am drawing a line of observation between the manner of dress and the incidence of sexual activity.)
Morals and values are the private province of each heart, each person, each family. This blog is not about legislating my values on others. What I’d like to do, along with my friends at Fathers.com, is encourage you to talk you children, sons and daughters about the idea utility and how we go about getting what we want.
Yes, I suppose that YPG is dressing that way to get what she wants, so let’s be clear about what we think she really wants. There is an old and well proven adage that males give acceptance to get sex and females give sex to get acceptance.
As a father of boys, I have tried to raise sons who did not take advantage of the girl’s desire for acceptance to get sex for himself. If I were the father of girls, I would legislate against yoga pants and encourage my daughters not to take advantage of a boy’s desire for sex to get acceptance for herself.
And I’d probably encourage her to wear a Carhartt coat to prom, just to be safe!