Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

My parents always tell me how a girl should act!

December 5, 2017

Why is who I am a problem for you?

Why is who I am a problem for you?

Parents of very cooperative teens may hear how “lucky” they are. This usually comes from parents of teens who are… well, acting like teens.

In the same way that most infants spit up until they get the hang of feeding, most teens push back against their parents until they get the hang of managing their own lives with integrity. The inevitable struggles  are rarely pleasant for the teen or her parents, but they’re beneficial to character development. If teens can’t or won’t challenge their parents, how can they formulate a vision of their own life? If they aren’t permitted to make their own choices and their own mistakes how can they gain confidence in relying on their own judgment?

Today’s letter comes from a teen who just wants to be her own girl.

Hey Annie,

My parents don’t really like my tomboyish personallity. Whenever I wear something boy-like or act like a boy they always yell at me or tell me how a girl should act. Because of this we always get into fights. One time my dad told he would kick me out of the house if I show any signs of being a tomboy. How do convince them that being a tomboy isn’t a bad thing?

– Tomi

Hi Tomi,

I get why you’re pushing back. Many people see their choice of clothing as a very personal expression of self. You want to dress in ways that a) make you feel comfortable and b) make you feel like you’re being true to yourself. As for your behavior?  That’s the essence of who you are. There is no more personal expression of self than that!

I don’t know your parents, but I can guess what they might be having a problem with. When you dress or act “like a boy” they might see it as a sign that you are queer.  Maybe you are. Maybe you’re not. Who you are attracted to is no one’s business but yours, but some parents have a really hard time when their little girl doesn’t fit into a neat box with a pink bow around it. ;O)

What you wear isn’t necessarily a sign of your sexual orientation or your gender identification. Some queer girls like to wear boys’ clothing. Some straight girls dress that way, too. It’s not a big deal… except to your parents.

You ask: How do I convince them that being a tomboy isn’t a bad thing?

I don’t have the answer to that one, because it’s impossible to change someone else’s attitude if he or she doesn’t want to change. The best advice I can give you is this: Being yourself (inside and out), without worrying what others think, is a sign of maturity. It’s also the best way I know to live a happy life.

Good luck.

In friendship,

P.S. You might want to read my answer to a parent’s question about her daughter wearing boy’s clothes. Check out the comments, too.


Now more than ever, as new sexual misconduct allegations surface each week, we need to focus on raising daughters who refuse to let anyone tell them how to dress and how to act. Our parenting job includes many things, but it does not include teaching our girls to keep their mouths shut when anyone disrespects them, makes them feel uncomfortable or tries to dictate their “place” in the world.





Guest blogger: Skanktastic New Fall Looks for Tweens

August 9, 2010

By stark. raving. mad. mommy.

stark. raving. mad. mommy. is a stay-at-home mom to four children ages four to nine. In her own words “…we’re dealing with allergies, asthma, anxiety, and that particular brand of Lego obsession known as autism. Eventually, we found that procreating and sustaining life while mainlining coffee was just not enough of a challenge. So, we up and moved our family of six from the East Coast to deep in the heart of Texas (clap-clap-clap). I have become, officially, a stark. raving. mad. mommy.”

I was recently alerted to the new Candie’s line of juniors’ clothing being sold at Kohl’s. Aimed at tweens and teens, it’s designed by Queen of Wholesome, Britney Spears.  Britney’s perfume line has been out for years; her latest one is called “Circus Fantasy.”

I’m not sure who told Britney that circuses smell good.  If I remember correctly, circuses smell like a heady mixture of sweat, stale popcorn, and elephant.  I have a funny feeling that’s actually what Britney Spears smells like, naturally.

Back to her skanktastic clothing line.  First, let me say this: if you’re of age to vote, and you dig her clothes, by all means, skank it out.  You go for yours, girlfriend.  But if you’re my nine year old daughter, you’re not going to be sporting anything to do with a grown woman who poses in her underwear with a large hot-pink teddy bear.  (The implications of this are positively mind bending.  It requires a time-space continuum leap for me to grasp that Britney, who used her teen sexuality to the hilt, is now infantilizing herself in order to sell clothes to my daughters. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.)

Even worse than Britney Spears’ skankfest at Kohl’s is the horror that is Victoria’s Secret’s Pink, a line of loungewear, intimates, and beauty products.  Pink is supposed to be all in caps: PINK, but I won’t give it that much importance.  Ostensibly aimed at high school and college students (it’s campus-ready!), the heavy use of glitter tells me that the true market is junior high.  Buzz is that Pink’s extra-small runs extra-small, making it the perfect place for a junior high girl to pick up her first thong. Again with the vomit. Also, we will not be wearing pants with “LOVE PINK” stamped on the butt.  We will be clad in sensible underwear.  And the seats of our pants will have, you know, pockets or something.

Speaking of people who need to buy sensible underpants, I’m back to Britney.  Besides no longer being a teen sensation, Britney’s a little late on the whole teens-designing-for-teens thing.  Selena Gomez, Avril Lavigne, Miley Cyrus, Keke Palmer and Lourdes Leon (Madonna’s daughter) all have their own lines of clothing.

In a completely unscientific study, my twin nine-year-old girls (Cookie and the Pork Lo Maniac) and I reviewed several of the clothing lines marketed toward tweens and young teens. We looked at the clothing lines of Selena, Avril, Miley, Lourdes, and Britney; we also looked at clothing from Old Navy, Gap, and Justice (which used to be called Limited Too).

Here is what I learned from my fashion experts:

  • Tights under jeans are weird. And they make going to the bathroom more complicated than it needs to be.
  • Skorts are better than skirts in case you want to do cartwheels. Because no one should see your underpants.
  • Yellow is a bad color for pants.  Justice, we’re looking at you.
  • Avril Lavigne’s distressed skinny white jeans would make you look like a rock star.  For about 15 minutes.  And then you would probably spill your Capri Sun on them.
  • Britney’s bejeweled tops would make you look like Queen Amidala from Star Wars … only older and fancier.
  • When you stand around in your underwear with a big pink bear on your head, you look stupid.  Like, maybe your head is really warm, but the rest of you would get cold.
  • Miley Cyrus likes really tight pants and that just doesn’t look comfortable.
  • Old Navy has an awesome selection of Wonder Woman t-shirts.

The opinions ended there because then they started singing “we’re tweens, we’re tweens,” and then collapsed into a ridiculous giggle fit.

Here’s the Mom Report:

  • I am thrilled to pieces that my daughters feel that no one should see their underwear.
  • Keke Palmer deserves props for designing clothes that look cute, comfortable, and don’t give me the heebie-jeebies.
  • My kids might not like the tights-under-shorts look, but I like that Selena Gomez’ models are covered up.
  • Tight pants seem to make people pose with an awkward in-toeing that would make actual walking impossible and/or necessitate physical therapy.
  • Britney Spears is a stark. raving. mad. mommy. But not in the fun way that I am.  She’s got a whole “crazy eyes” thing going on.

The most important thing I learned from this project is that I am lucky enough that my “tweens” are really still little girls. I know some day they’ll want to wear clothes that I’ll find appalling (yes, I remember what I wore in 1989). Fortunately we’re not there yet, and I’m savoring every minute of this time.

Here’s the part I don’t get: Most tweens and young teens don’t have jobs and therefore don’t have tons of their own spending money.  I know they don’t drive themselves to Kohl’s. So who is buying girls this stuff?

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