I grew up in the 1980's - at least that's when I was a teenager. And during that timeframe, I guess you could say that I was a typical teen. I wasn't overly wild and crazy but I had my moments and definitely liked to go to parties with my friends, get away with the occasional fib to my parents that generally consisted of staying out way too late and being in a few places that I probably shouldn't have been.
As a teen of the 80's, I dressed in pretty typical 80's fashion and definitely liked to shop. I went through my Madonna look-alike phase with the blond hair (I have good 80's hair even to this day) and rubber bracelets. And I had been known to don a miniskirt or two. In my 20's, I traded the Madonna clothing for more snug fitting items that showed off my then cute figure. And I spent my share of time in bars and clubs with friends.
Fast forward to 2011. Yes, I'm in my 40's and have 2 kids, a husband, a house, a career and rarely get out for a wild girl's night out. But recently, a few friends who I lived with after college and I went to Foxwoods Casino for the weekend to catch up, have some great food, and go out to a few bars. While we were there, we visited a club called Shrine. I had never heard of it but apparently it's a fairly well known locale for 20 somethings in the New England area. So, we made a reservation for dinner and then planned to stay there for dancing, drinks, etc.
After dinner was over, we went downstairs to the bar/club area. Of course we got there at about 9:30 so there was hardly anyone there yet. We sauntered up to the bar and were greeted by 3 female bartenders - of course they were young and beautiful. No surprises there. But what struck me was the dress code that consisted of a black bustier tied extremely tight so that they were overflowing along with some combination of fishnet stockings, garter belts, shorts (if you could call them that) or skin tight pants that were slung very low.
From there, the "club girls" began to enter. And every single one of them was wearing a very short dress with little underneath and 6" heels. In contrast, my friends and I were dressed in nice jeans, sandals and fitted T's or light sweaters. You can only imagine how we stood out in that crowd.
Another thing I noticed: for all of these unbelievably sexy outfits, every guy who was there looked like a "schlep" almost without exception. Jeans, flannel shirts, a few in button-downs but they were the exceptions. It left me wondering if these were just the temporary guys and that there would be some influx of Armani-clad men with great shoes and haircuts that would greet these glamorous girls. But they never arrived.
So what does all of this mean? I am not a prude by any means. I consider myself to be a very open-minded individual. But I can't help but wonder what these women are thinking when they dress like that. I am a firm believer in self confidence and looking/feeling your best. But does that mean that you have to look like a prostitute? Is it not better to leave a little to the imagination rather than letting everything hang out? And why don't the men feel compelled to dress up and look better for these women that I assume they are trying to meet?
I'm sure that my parents asked similar questions in the 80's. In their generation, men courted and were courteous of women. But things have certainly changed; women now compete with men on all levels and this shift has had an impact on how we interact with each other. But if that's the case, then shouldn't we have even more power to not give in to the sexual stereotypes? Doesn't that mean that we can use our individuality to be different? Or are we so desperate for male attention that we will use any means within our power to get it?
I don't know the answer but I think it's something we need to think about as women, especially as we try to be role models for our daughters. I personally hope that my daughter grows up to be the confident young woman I know that she can be - someone who is smart, funny, and beautiful both inside and out. And I hope that she understands that she has choices. At the end of the day, that's what it's really about to me. We have choices that earlier generations never even dreamed about. As women, it's our responsibility to take advantage of these to propel ourselves forward.