Musings of a Middle-aged Therapist

Having escaped the higgledy-piggledy life of a musician and embraced the more reflective life of a therapist, I’ve had the time and space to muse on the things happening around me.

Today, my musings have drawn out my fuddy-duddy side, or at least that’s how I’m interpreting it in a slightly amused way.

I’ve been doing the school run with my young son for the past year and increasingly, I’ve found myself having an inner debate about the length of school skirts. I have to confess that I’m quite shocked at how little of the school skirt is left. Now, before I continue, I want to state that how people choose to dress doesn’t concern me at all; I’m a staunch advocate of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. I think that my thoughts are driven more by a tendency to ask WHY! WHY do young girls feel the need to shorten their skirts until they’re barely there and, are they not bothered that it’s freezing at the moment?

This particular inner debate was reignited this morning as I was walking back home after the school drop-off. In front of me, in the local park, were two secondary school age girls both wearing skirts that were so short, I found myself wondering if hot pants might perhaps have been a more suitable alternative? As it’s not an uncommon sight in my local area, I had to conclude that it’s a desired way to dress.

So, why am I writing about this? I keep asking myself this question.

The answer, I’ve decided, is that it’s the WHY that bothers me.

I’ve arrived at the conclusion that there are two possible explanations (or perhaps a combination of both) for the barely visible school skirt. Either girls are becoming increasingly more confident in themselves and displaying, in part through the way they dress, a self-assured, innate feeling of inner strength or, there is an underlying, unspoken societal belief that self-respect and self-worth are bound up with a sexualised image.

If the former was true then I’d be delighted. I cannot shake from my mind, however, that the latter has far more influence and gravity.

Of course, it’s human nature to want to be liked and socially accepted but I would argue that seeking the approval of our peers rarely takes on more importance than in those formative teenage years. These are years full of exploration and experimentation which I believe are essential for helping children transition into healthy, well-balanced adults. As an adult society, however, I believe that we have a duty to provide the scaffolding around our young people.

I’m veering off course slightly but I feel compelled to question our sense of responsibility as a society when it comes to allowing our children to be children without piling on adult baggage. I don’t have to look far to see really warped images and depictions of people and life that confuse superficial beauty with self-worth, riches with success and sex with love. I could go on.

Again, I have to ask why?

Of course, it’s about money. Desirability sells.

But I suspect there’s something more sinister going on.

Why are young girls feeling that they have to (almost) bare all? What’s driving this? I believe that despite women having more rights, there is still an unspoken, underlying rhetoric underpinning our society that depicts women as sex objects. For all the progress that, on the surface, has been made, I do not believe that, as a society, our deepest core beliefs have changed enough.

So, there you have it, my school-run musings triggered by middle age and the mystery of the disappearing skirt.

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