My grandmother Mamie O'Neill was the gatekeeper for preserving the sense of mystery she felt was essential for all young women. Mamie always had a hanky or two tucked away in the pocket of her house dress* at the ready to put between our blossoming breasts if they were even slightly exposed. I can still hear her say, "Cover your separation." I think she thought using the word cleavage was just too risqué.
In her day, showing just a hint of the curve of your ankle was enough to make the young men swoon. A bare calf revealed when the wind caught your skirt would send your suitor over the top. Imagine how easy it was to capture a young man's fancy...good ankles and a well-turned calf.
Recently while shopping for "appropriate clothing" for a young woman in high school, I could picture Mamie passing out hankies by the dozens to all the young ladies in the fitting rooms.
On one of the racks in the store we were trying to shop, I saw garments that were supposed to be skirts; I thought they were a collection of wide belts!
That's when it hit me. Today's fashions for young women have it all wrong...they've stolen the mystery, the special allure of just a hint of the forbidden. The silky fabric that feels so soft to the touch, the sway of a skirt against your leg when you walk. The way fitted clothes hug and enhance the curves of your body. Now that's the mystery that has real appeal!
Young women today are being sold a bill of goods that robs them of their dignity, their intelligence and their sense of self worth. With so much to look at there really is nothing left to see. People make assumptions about a young woman without taking the time to get to know her and appreciate her gifts and talents.
Let's teach our daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters the lessons from Mamie O'Neill's day and the lessons we learned from the Women's Movement. Women are so much more than a collection of body parts that have been lured by the fashion gurus and the media into the shortest, skimpiest, and tightest fashions ever.
We are strong, capable women who have the right to be respected because we know our value and respect ourselves. We can influence young women to dress fashionably in clothing that compliment their looks and in styles that allow others to see who they really are.
By the way, Victoria has NO Secrets.
*house dress - the original "infit" (something only to be worn in and around the house, as opposed to an "outfit" that can leave the house).
Janet Cargill www.jcargillimageconsulting.com 908-310-2148