Current scenario: You are shopping for a homecoming or holiday dance dress for your daughter and are disgusted and appalled at the choices. Many are too short, too revealing and way too expensive. Yeah, I remember this whole experience all too well.
WBAL-TV news anchor Mindy Basara was helping her 14-year-old daughter shop for a homecoming dress and says it was a pain. “Lindsey and her friends all look at the same dresses and send each other pictures of the style of dress they want to wear,” she says, explaining today’s shopping rituals. “You want your child to fit in and wear what’s in style, but on the other hand don’t want them showing too much. You also don’t want to come down too hard and make them feel badly about themselves or their bodies. It’s a fine line.”
It’s a journey that Mindy and other parents of teenagers will be on for some time. This may be a news flash for some of you, but girls — just like women — dress for one another, not the guys. Consider my two daughters. I remember the two of them wanting dresses that were “all the rage.” This was harder than it sounds.
‘Knowing that they would wear these trendy dresses only once, I did not want to spend a lot of money. I tried to get them to shop at Marshalls, TJ Maxx and Ross — places with lots of dresses at good prices. But they wouldn’t have it. Sometimes they shopped online and had some luck there.
Other times we went to our go-to: Synchronicity Boutique in Pikesville. The dresses there are pricier than Marshalls, but the boutique has a good selection and keeps a list of which dress was bought by students from which school. That way, no one wears the same thing.
Still our trips there were stressful: There was lots of eye-rolling, huffing and puffing and arguments. On our first trip of a dress-shopping season, we usually left empty-handed only to return later. This is part of shopping with teens.
Recently, I talked to another shopping mom, Julie Kreymer, who was on the dress hunt with her 14-year-old daughter. “I’m finding a mixture of dresses, but my child is having a hard time finding one she likes,” she says. “I think I have a different idea in my mind of what she should be wearing, and she thinks she knows what she wants to wear, but she’s not finding that. She takes pictures and sends them to her friends asking if the dresses are OK.” Kreymer adds, “I think I should open a dress shop.”
I could see the disappointment on both of their faces when they left the store without a dress.
This has the potential to be one of the most stressful times in the life of a mother with a teenage daughter. After all, the pressure from their peers to have the right look is great. Social media makes all of this difficult, too. Right away, dress pictures are posted and everyone is judged. We can teach our daughters not to judge, but we can’t deny that it’s being done.
I have no easy answers — there are none. These dresses give form to all of our baggage: We want to please our daughters and uplift them. It goes back to talking with your daughter about her style, how to dress in a way that’s comfortable and flattering and how you as a parent feel about short, tight or low-cut dresses. In the end, the hope is that everyone looks lovely and it’s on to the next dress, next dance. More importantly, we want our daughters to feel empowered and not defeated.