‘Clothes-shopping for a teenage daughter is fun!” So said nobody, ever. But rising temps signaled the need to replenish our teenage daughter’s wardrobe. And out we set to the mall. Little did I know I would need therapy afterward. And maybe a mild sedative, too.

Now, I know clothes cost an arm and a leg sometimes. But that wasn’t what caused a war between me and my daughter. It was fabric. Or, to be exact, the lack of it. We hit every single store at the mall that caters to teen girls. Every. Single. One. And, sure, there were shorts galore. Except most were shorts that I would never allow my child to be seen in.

I’m no prude. (Do all parents say that?) But when we searched, high and low, for shorts my teen daughter could wear to school, 99 percent of those available would make Daisy Duke blush at the thought of wearing them.

Store A&F had shorts with inseams from half an inch to 2 inches. I’ve had pocket lint that covered more. Store H had shorts that could have doubled as underwear. Good Ole’ Store 21 had short-shorts with leather and zippers. Pretty sure they weren’t machine-washable.

By our fourth hour of shopping, I didn’t even look at the price tag when we finally found a pair that would pass my daughter’s (fabulous) school dress code: Shorts need to be “arm’s length.”

She still wanted some short-shorts for outside of school. (Not as long as I’m on this side of the turf.)

By the end of our foray, we weren’t speaking. Teen daughter was angry because “all the girls are wearing shorts like that.” And I, of course, replied, “So what? You’re not.”

What teens, designers and stores need to realize is this: Women will be respected when a nation will rise and uphold their dignity.

Remember when our daughters were young and we dressed them for Halloween? What costumes did we choose? We gave them get-ups representing what they could achieve in adulthood. They dressed as veterinarians, cowgirls, superheroes, doctors and, yes, even princesses. We clothed them in possibilities.

Today, the clothes offered young girls, some as young as 5, are frankly more appropriate for aspiring prostitutes.

It’s a “show what you’ve got” fashion mentality. “But [my favorite singer/actress/celebrity] dresses like that,” kids rant. Would we really give our child an outfit so revealing that she looks like she could double as a young Lindsay Lohan (a drug and alcohol train wreck), Kim Kardashian (72-day marriage and now preggers by latest beau) or Paris Hilton (whose claims to fame are jail time and stupidity)? How you allow a girl to dress now will navigate her life path.

Parents, consider whether this is the first message you want your daughter to project from the clothes they wear: Look at me. I’ve got a bust, navel and butt? How boring and unoriginal. News flash: all women have these. By allowing girls to show too much skin, you allow their body to be the first, and maybe only, attribute they put forth. Instead of offering the world their body, let them offer the world their wit, intelligence, fortitude and strength. Change their dress, and you change their future.

Does your daughter want to be a trendsetter when she grows up? Then clothe her in educational and leadership opportunities. Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice wore power suits — and powered our nation’s foreign policies. South Korea’s female president, Park Geun-hye, may even help tailor your own daughter’s quest for the presidency.

Does your daughter want to be edgy and radical? Then drape her in stories of radical women who changed the world: Mother Teresa, who showed the world that even the poorest of the poor deserve love and dignity; Malala Yousufzai, who was the teen shot by the Taliban when she exerted her right to an education in Pakistan; Ann Bancroft, polar explorer, who blazed a trail where no woman had gone before.

Each of these pioneers showed influence, not leg. Their type of exposure inspired millions. And not a belly shirt or hot pants in sight.

Clothing makes a statement before a word is spoken. If they insist on wearing their skimpy clothes, have them wear leggings or a tank top underneath. Save the skin for the boat, the beach or bedtime. Dress your daughter as the treasure she is.

Sometimes we parents win battles, and sometimes we lose. I know this “War of Shorts” may need to be refought each spring and summer. (I still can’t figure out why my teen doesn’t want to borrow my gauchos.)

But here’s the naked truth: the world doesn’t need another vixen; it needs victorious women who will find the cure for cancer, broker peace accords and win a Pulitzer Prize.

Let’s put girls back on a pedestal, not around a stripper pole.


Dawn Quigley, of Forest Lake, is a wife, mother and teacher.