Mona Charen

Do you allow your pre-teen daughters to wear T-shirts with suggestive messages? Well, plenty of parents do. Just stroll through any clothing store catering to the younger set, and you will find "Hottie" and "Sexy" on shirts too small to fit anyone older than 12. Bare midriffs are marketed to girls as young as 7 and 8. I don't have daughters; I have sons. But I hate for them to be living in such a coarse society.

The Washington Post recently ran a story about how schools are handling the issue at all grade levels (yes, these kids apparently walk out the door dressed like this). A 14- or 15-year-old girl stared happily into the camera wearing a T-shirt that read, "Behind every great girl is a guy checking her out." Her companion's body-hugging T-shirt read, "Yes, but not with u."

Most middle and high schools have dress codes that forbid plunging necklines, bare bellies, droopy drawers, and T-shirts glorifying drugs and alcohol. But the suggestive T-shirt, according to the Post report, is less clear-cut, falling into "a gray area that requires officials to evaluate one shirt at a time." And apparently, this can be challenging. "Administrators said evaluating the shirts can be awkward because the words are usually printed right over a student's chest. Sometimes students stride quickly past or take other evasive maneuvers to conceal a questionable T-shirt."

Perhaps there's something I'm missing here, but why must the assistant principal catch the kids on the fly in the hall? What are the classroom teachers doing?

"For teenagers who chafe at clothing rules for midriffs and cleavage," the Post explains, "'attitude' shirts offer a chance to show some skin, without showing skin."

Great. Let's hear it for women's liberation. Our 13-year-olds are free to look and act like sluts.

The tentativeness of the adults in this narrative is just amazing. These suggestive messages are in a "gray area." They must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Really? Here are some of the examples offered in the Post story: "Two boys for every girl," "Pimps," "Got (slang expression for breasts)?" "Flirting my way to the top," "I am too hot to handle" and "I know what boys want."

In some instances, school officials demanded that the shirts be turned inside out or exchanged for a school T-shirt. But not in every case. Amazing. Of course, there are occasions, explained Fairfax County, Va., community relations coordinator Paul Regnier, when principals phone a kid's parents about an offensive shirt only to be told that the parents saw no problem.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Mona Charen's column. Sign up today and receive daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.
©Creators Syndicate