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Dealing With a Trashy-Dressing Daughter

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Dealing With a Trashy-Dressing Daughter

Clothes are a very powerful way to communicate. They connote certain things about who you are and give specific messages—to express anger or sophistication, to flirt and indicate that you’re ready for a sexual encounter, or to show the world that you’re prim and proper. Clothes can be used to attract people or to repel them. It can also just be fun to experiment with clothes and see how it feels and what responses you get from other people.

So before you react too quickly when your daughter starts dressing trashy, it’s a good idea to get inside her head prior to jumping inside her closet. Take time to pay attention to your daughter.  Really study her moods, her friends, her struggles at school, changes that are going on inside her as well as outside.  Try to analyze what’s going on in her life that might suddenly make her want to wear trashy clothes. There are lots of reasons she might have chosen a change in her attire and her look, and these different reasons will prompt totally different interventions and conversations from you.

Here are some of the things you might discover…

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Joanne Stern

Joanne Stern, PhD, is a psychotherapist with a private practice emphasizing counseling with families, parents, couples and teens. She’s a teacher, consultant, speaker, and expert guest on parenting and family topics, including communication, discipline, self-esteem, addictions, eating disorders, grief, and loss. Parenting Is a Contact Sport: 8 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Kids for Life is her first book. A mother and grandmother, she and her husband, Terry Hale, live in Aspen, Colorado.


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6:29AM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

i thought there was no truth in dressing in "ready for sex" way. so it is ok to dress 9 year olds as suck. >:)

10:05AM PST on Dec 23, 2010

The key thing is to make sure to send the message that looks are not the end-all-and-be-all. More often than not, boys are praised for skills and intelligence, whereas girls are praised for their looks, and that's it. I think one also has to address the boys whose pants sag to the ground and subject everyone to the view of their butt cracks.

9:21AM PST on Dec 20, 2010

good article, but anyone thought that a girl might like to wear trashy clothes just because it is her style and not because she's upset or disturbed...? I think that sometimes that way of dressing is too exagerate but hey, it isn't always as negative as everyone says.

3:10PM PST on Nov 25, 2010


3:09PM PST on Nov 25, 2010

It odd how this sounds to me as a teenager, but i can identify. My parents are very old fashioned, and my mom in particular expects straight A's from me and a place on the cheerleading team. When these pressures kicked in for the first time in Jr. High I started dressing very eccentrically. It was a way to prove I'd never be a cookie-cutter soccer my like my parents.
All I can say is good luck getting your daughter to take fashion advice from you mom's.. haha.

12:15PM PST on Nov 23, 2010

well let her dress the way she wants. teenagers need to mark their presence and clothes are good way of expression.

6:38AM PST on Nov 20, 2010

You don't need to "analyze" your daughter. Don't yell at her either, she'll just be more prone to wearing those clothes. Talk to her like..."why are you wearing those clothes? Is everything oK? you can tell me.. I won't judge you," make it clear to her that you are willing to let anything she says not make you yell or get mad. Let her be comfortable. Then talk to her about it, but don't immediatly throw all her clothes away, or else you'll have a daughter that hates you and doesn't wear those clothes when she can love you and not be dressing inapropriatly.

6:54AM PST on Nov 18, 2010

I have boys! So I know how they yalk about the girls that dress that way!

10:55PM PST on Nov 13, 2010

very interesting, thanks for the info!

7:32PM PST on Nov 8, 2010

I dont know... I think its a delicate thing to respect your daughter. And very important. But you need to be decided too about what is right and unacceptable. child rearing is surely a delicate thing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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