I allowed my daughter to leave the house the other night dressed like a floozy. She had on short shorts, high heels, a halter top and fishnet hose. Her hair was teased to ludicrous levels and she sported a KISS-like spiky thing drawn around her right eye. The reason for this was a Ke$ha concert. I have no idea who this Ke$ha is, but the dollar sign in her name tells me a lot.
If my mother had seen her granddaughter in this getup, she would have called CPS and had me arrested. Proper dress was a religion with my mom and she never deviated from it. Unlike my high school best friend who had five siblings to help disperse the parental heat, I was an only child and therefore had my mother's eyes focused on me like lasers. It wasn't until I was in college and away from home that I was able to shop for clothes without my mother there to approve or disapprove.
Even my dad got into the act. Each year when I shopped for a bathing suit, Daddy insisted on tagging along and he had the final say on what I bought. It was mortifying to have to step out of the dressing room and parade around in public, and my furtive appearances lasted about two seconds. Lest you, dear reader, get the wrong idea, I couldn't have asked for a more loving and supportive father, but he felt it was his paternal duty to make sure my girly bits were decently covered. Fortunately, by the time I got to junior high, he stopped going on these shopping trips, but I still had Mom to deal with.
When I was in the eighth grade, the powers that be decided to allow girls to wear pants to school. My mother was appalled at the very thought and immediately launched a boycott; I was not permitted to wear pants to school, only dresses and skirts. I can remember waiting for the bus on cold mornings, shivering in my pantyhose, while the other girls were warm in jeans and pants. Thankfully, Houston is sub-tropical so winter doesn't carry much of a bite, but it was miserable going some days. I don't know exactly what kind of message my mother hoped to send to the HISD school board by forcing me show up to class everyday in dresses, but the fact is, I was the one who suffered the brunt of her so-called boycott. No one else cared, or even noticed.
In the spring of that school year, Mom went to the hospital to have a hysterectomy. This was back when surgery meant a prolonged stay; none of this drive-thru business like now. For one glorious week, I wore what I wanted to school. My father was far too preoccupied with my mother to care how I dressed. I really don't think he'd have noticed if I'd pranced out naked. It was heady stuff, let me tell you, but once Mom was back on the home turf, my little spark of rebellion came to an end.
Ninth grade, Mom announced that I could now wear pants to school. This came with a caveat: ONLY dress pants, or pantsuits, as they were called back then. Absolutely, positively NO blue jeans. Even when Sadie Hawkins rolled around in the fall and everyone else was dressing in overalls, patched jeans, flannel shirts and straw hats, I had to wear slacks.
The upside to my mother's strict dress code was that I was probably the only girl in school who regularly bought clothes from Neiman-Marcus, Sakowitz, Saks Fifth Avenue and the like. Still though, once I headed off to college, the expensive wardrobe my mother sent with me got stuck in the back of the closet in favor of jeans, shorts, tees and flip-flops. The good stuff got dragged out for dates.
As a mother, I had a much more lenient approach to clothes, basically three rules: no thong underwear (I surrendered on this issue after a few years), no jeans with holes, and nothing that promotes popular culture, like Barbie or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We had our battles from time to time, usually over my kids wanting the more expensive items, but by keeping things in their proper perspective, we avoided a lot of the tension I grew up with. The Ke$ha outfit excepted, my daughter actually has a much better sense of style than I do, but that's pretty easy to do when you are a size six.
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