Well, this is my story about how that happens. When I was in Jr. High, my best friend and I were given permission to go to stampede together, without adult supervision. We were so excited, and had our outfits picked out weeks ahead of schedule. We planned every matching detail, from the hat, to the braided hair, “shirt” and shoes. Now I put “shirt” in quotations because the year prior there was a fad that was starting to take hold. And that fad was bandanas for shirts. Yes, you read that correctly, we had decided that we were going to look so cool wearing bandanas for shirts, jeans and cowboy boots. It was perfect for a number of reasons. We would be at the height of fashion, we already owned bandanas and the most important to us, was that we would be comfortable in the heat that always accompanies the grounds (plus 35 Celsius most days).
If this very strange term is new to you, here is a quick definition, “a prepubescent girl (generally 10-14 years of age) who emulates the overtly sexual fashions and attitudes of twenty-something women such as pop stars” (Urban Dictionary). And I think it is safe to say that during Stampede week, we have all seen a young girl who has fit this description. It has made many a man uncomfortable and more than a few women glare in disgust. I mean how could parents ever let their daughters go to Stampede dressed so provocatively?
So here we were, the morning of Stampede getting dressed at our parents houses in our little make shift tops without a care in the world, then off we went to the exhibition. To be fair to our parents, I am fairly sure we wore hoodies while leaving the house because it is chilly in the morning so they were none the wiser to our attire. I can also tell you that I know I was not developed in the breast area, and I cannot for the life of me remember if my best friend was or not. We genuinely felt amazing in our trendy “shirts” and we strutted all day long with Calgarian young girl pride. I remember a glance or two that felt a little weird, however, we were both incredibly innocent and appropriately naïve so we figured they were just jealous which is a natural pre-teen reaction.
We dressed trendy to be cool and comfortable. We even brought sunblock and re-applied every 3 hours to ensure that our delicate skin was protected. There was NOTHING sexual in our minds when we chose our outfits. And that is the honest truth. And yet, looking back, we were the very definition of prosti-tots. We were those girls who I can only assume were making those around us uncomfortable. And the thing is, if we had locked eyes with any man getting excited or blushing, we would have laughed in his face and walked away.
I am aware that today’s young girls are exposed to a much wider range of social media and fashion trends that I was not. I after all was in Jr High quite a few years prior to the social media or smart phone age. So, my only exposure to anything socially relevant was the occasional copy of 17 magazine or Cosmo. In fact, as I mentioned we (my best friend and I) saw a lady the year before wearing a bandana, thought to ourselves that she looked so cool, that we waited a whole year to emulate her. It was a form of flattery if nothing else. And we thought we were cool enough to wear clothing that made us look trendy and feel great. If we were mature enough to go to the grounds alone, we were “adult” enough to wear what we wanted. We never once thought that we were “slutting” it up to go pick up guys or get attention.
Now for the take away, I believe in a sex positive society. I also believe that children and youth should never be sexualized or viewed with adult eyes or their biases. I was a young girl, and I made a completely innocent fashion choice because I yearned to be cool and trendy. I can tell you that if anyone had scolded or scoffed in my face that day nearly 20 years ago I would have been mortified, and then rapidly defiant! I was innocent of the sexual perversions of adults and I am grateful that I grew up in an environment where I was safe to make these mistakes. I cannot speak for the youth of today, but perhaps take a moment before you glare at a young girl/boy for exposing more than you yourself are comfortable with and just look away rather than parent them. Let children be children. And remember that we all made mistakes when we were young. Stop calling these youth “prosti-tots” or any of the other sexualized terms of the day. And take those first steps to acknowledging that you have a biased mindset as a sexual adult, and that skewed perspective can do much more harm than good when projected towards a young child.