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Continued: Readers Write (May 7): Orchestra, North Dakota oil, girls' self-image

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  • Last update: May 6, 2013 - 7:46 PM

What girls should wear: A teenager responds

Although I understand that the May 4 commentary “Girls, you are what you wear” was somewhat about protecting children, I must disagree with the author.

I am a 14-year-old girl. I get good grades; I aspire to be a successful adult, and I fully support women’s rights, but I do, occasionally, show skin in public. I do not do this because I want to be a prostitute, but because it is my right, not only as a woman, but as a human being, to dress as I please and not have the foundation of my character criticized simply because of my appearance.

The author states that women should be recognized by intellect and not looks, but goes on to say that women who dress provocatively are just strippers in the making. Even the headline implies that the way you dress defines who you are.

The commentary says, regarding busts and butts: “News flash: all women have these.” Yes — shouldn’t that mean that we should all grow up about it?

A man running shirtless in the park wouldn’t be considered a male prostitute, though it’s the same situation. The author, in trying not to be sexist, is being more sexist than she seems to know.

I, as a young girl, shouldn’t need to be afraid of judgment because of how I dress, and if I am perceived as a “stripper,” it’s society’s fault, not mine.

Alma Engebretson, Minneapolis

• • •

I am a feminist, a former member of the National Organization for Women, a retired police investigator and the mother of two grown daughters.

As a public speaker and trainer throughout much of my career addressing sexual-assault investigations and personal safety for women, I was a crusader who ardently argued against the myth that women who were “scantily” dressed and later sexually assaulted “asked for it.” Women are not what they wear, I said.

I read Dawn Quigley’s “Girls, you are what you wear” and found myself still struggling in agreement with some of her observations, thanks to my daughters. I went through their teenage years and the fights over “appropriate” dress. I won some, lost many. (Geez, they can wear you down.) I remember similar scenes with my folks, back in the day. Miniskirts, anyone?

In the end, it all worked out. Today, my daughters are successful women who understand the balance, the nuances and some unfairness of what is “appropriate” in today’s world. I believe I “modeled” by example — and the good fight was fought, where it mattered.

Juliann Brunzell, Minneapolis

• • •

Indeed, Dove’s “real beauty sketches” videos are creating a buzz, as well as heaps of critique “Real beauty found in viral video” (April 30). As opposed to challenging hegemonic ideals of beauty, or deconstructing why our society places such a weighty (pun intended) emphasis on physical appearance, the videos remind us that “crows feet” and “big jaws” are culturally “ugly.”

My dear consumers, don’t be fooled. If the manufacturers of Dove really wanted to boost your self-esteem, they wouldn’t tap into your deepest insecurities to sell you a product.

Katie Robinson, Minneapolis

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