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JLeslie's avatar

Do you advise your children not to wear clothing that calls attention to them?

Asked by JLeslie (54495points) March 29th, 2012

We all would likely agree that how someone dresses does not make them guilty of “asking” to be harmed or accused of something. A girl in a short skirt cannot and should not be blamed for being raped, a man in an expensive suit being robbed, or even an expensive piece of luggage attracting a theft once checked.

Not sure where people would stand on retail security following people for how they are dressed? When I worked in retail I certainly called security if people walked in wearing baggy clothes, especially if they were in groups of 2 or more people. It happened to be where I lived previously that the majority of the time it was black kids dressed this way, a fashion statament, but we were focused on the clothing, not the race. Our clientelle was primarily white, and we caught plenty of white theives that’s for sure.

I thought to ask this question because of the recent tragedy, death of the young man, Trayvon Martin. Many are discussing his race contributing to what seemed to be an obsession by the man who killed him. I think race is likely a factor, but I haven’t heard much discussion about what Trayvon was wearing. I don’t know if the young man’s clothing, hoody, was part of the trigger that sent his killer into fixating on him, but it did get me thinking about the basic question, do you teach your children not to dress in a way associated with crime, sexual flirtation, flaunting wealth, for their own safety?

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23 Answers

dappled_leaves's avatar

Actually, there has been quite a lot of discussion about what role the clothes he was wearing may have had in the shooting. Geraldo Rivera went on at length on Fox about how parents should not let their kids wear hoodies, unless they want them to get shot. Others are furious that he said this, because they say it is equivalent to blaming a woman’s choice of attire for her rape.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t believe your example really applies, that Zimmerman is crazy and the clothing is just one, noticeable excuse.

No, I don’t believe in telling my kids what to wear. I try to keep them reasonably informed about current events and their place in society, and they choose what they feel comfortable with. When my grandsons were teens, they wore long, black trenchcoats for a few years, and they knew what the consequences could be.

I had a son who was a cross dresser, but he did it as a prank, or a costume. His friends were very accepting. My older son was very active in the Goth as Art movement in Sweden for several years, and currently dresses in the 1940’s styles with wonderful looking hats and vintage overcoat.

As a former costume designer and creator myself, I have seen my boys dress in all manner of imitating their favorite TV or movie characters, from the Dr Who phase, scarf knitted by me, thru Browncoats in Firefly to Star Trek uniforms (handmade by me) and even Logan’s Run . My young grandsons are now getting involved by dressing as their favorite characters (Mario and Luigi or the Power Rangers) when they go out. The youngest one now insists on dressing as a railroad worker.

augustlan's avatar

Sort of. There are things my ex and I wouldn’t approve of our daughters wearing because they’re too revealing, but it’s not like we think (or say) they’re going to get raped because of it. Just that it’s not appropriate for their ages.

And if one of them wants to wear something outlandish, or dye their hair a weird color or something, we just let them know that they might receive some unwanted attention (say, teasing), but we let them do it if they want to.

JustPlainBarb's avatar

I always encouraged my son to dress to show “class” and self-respect. I never had to say anything else. His clothes do not define him, rather his character and actions help to do that.

Pandora's avatar

I’ve just always pointed out to them that clothing can attract negative or positive reactions from people around them. You can’t change how certain clothing is recieved but if you really want to increase your chances of having a good day, than you should start with your clothing. Colors and style have an effect on people on a subconcious level.
Our minds are trained in a subconcious level to react a certain way because of images that are planted in our minds.
Every time we see a bank robbery, or store robbery, they are wearing either a base ball cap and sunglasses or a hoodie and sunglasses and sometimes all three. So whenever we see that we have a subconcious reaction to it.
On tv, all hookers are wearing short dresses and extremely high heels and a ton of make-up. So when we see a young lady dressed like that, on a subconcious level, we think she is a slut.
Society always becomes conditioned to think a certain way.
So I asked them, what did they think a mugger, a bank robber, a hooker, a pervert, a drug dealer, a thug, a pimp, or bum, or homeless person, a slob would all dress or act like?
So if they saw dressing a certain way to say that about a person, than what makes them think that others won’t think that too. I pretty much left it in their court. My daughter was the hardest to convince but after she improved her dressing on her own, she started to see how people became more pleasant and helpful to her than they were before. She loved to dress like a homeless person. Baggy clothes with holes in sleeves and pants legs and all wrinkled. People avoided her like she carried the Bird Flu.

ragingloli's avatar

Yes, I do advise my children not to wear clothing.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY I agree Zimmerman is crazy. Ihave said all along at minimum he needs a psyche evaluation, he is a danger to society. Forget that I think he should be jailed for what he did as a punishment, I think he should be off the streets, because I don’t trust him not to do something horrible again. The Zimmerman example is an extreme, it sparked my question, but I was not trying to say the young man’s clothing was the main reason he was followed and killed. My question was more just a general thought.

I don’t think dressing in costume is the same as dressing how people associate gang members, theives, and suspicious people in general.

@Pandora A lot of the types you named I don’t have automatic assumptions about interestingly. I don’t assume a women dressed sort of trashy is a slut. But, I would think others would. I would be a little wary of someone wearing their hood up on a hoody indoors, I don’t know if Martin had his hood up in the store? I also would be a little on guard if several boys/men were hanging around in a group no matter how dressed, but a hoody with hood up would trouble me more probably. I have no concept of what a pervert dresses like? I think they all usually look like everyone else, unless you mean someone in a trench coat naked underneath?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

My youngest is not to that point yet, but I have told my oldest she’s not allowed to purchase certain items because they look like “hooker clothes”. Otherwise, she’s allowed to wear whatever she wants. She alternates between extreme “prep” and extreme “goth”. I like her variety. =0)

SpatzieLover's avatar


In our case, this isn’t about race or sexuality. Our son’s attire almost always tells others he’s different. Sandals in winter and sometimes shorts during winter gets you looked at. Luckily he knows how to combat comments and questions, as do we.

If a hoodie gets you shot, then my husband and I are doomed.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover You live in a cold climate, being bundled up is not suspicious. A ski mask on the slopes, no problem, a ski mask in FL in March, kind of odd. Hoodie kind of somewhere in the middle, because it is worn as a fashion. I tend to be one of those who think we need to be able to see someone’s face, although again there is a blurry line on that topic even for me. I’ve talked about it on Q’s regarding religious attire that covers the face.

Again, I think Zimmerman is nuts. The boy had done nothing wrong that would instigate following him from what I can tell.

Aethelwine's avatar

Luckily we haven’t had a problem with our sons when it comes to clothes. They mostly wear jeans and tshirts with the addition of a hoodie if it’s chilly outside. My husband and I also wear hoodies when it’s cold. No big deal. Our youngest son (senior in high school) wore sweatpants to school one day this week, then he wore a suit to school yesterday, just because. he’s cool like that

My daughter is 8. I will make sure she wears age appropriate clothes as she grows older, but I’m not going to try to influence her style. I had a little difficulty with her over the winter because she loves wearing skirts, and it was just too cold for her to wear skirts on some days. She compromised and wore a skirt over her jeans.

JLeslie's avatar

@jonsblond My friends in MI wore leggings under their skirts. They still do.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie My husband often wears a hoodie when it’s warm. They make him feel cozy. Yes, he wears the hood, too.

JLeslie's avatar

High was 79 degrees in Miami, FL that day, low was 72. Would not be odd to have a jacket on, but would be odd to have your hood up. Why? Do you really think he is cold? Or, needs to be warmer to feel cozy? I would think it would begin to feel pretty hot.

JLeslie's avatar

I lived in south Florida. If someone walked into my store with a hood on their head in 75 degrees I would just think, “why is he dressed so warm,” I would not assume he is a criminal. Same if he were waring a winter hat, I would just think it’s strange.

You would be amazed how many Floridians don’t own winter coats, gloves, hats, nothing. A sweatjacket or cardigan is very common though.

SpatzieLover's avatar

He might have been. For my husband it might be to block wind noises from his ears. It might have zilch to do with warmth.

I can’t imagine profiling someone based on a hoodie. Maybe if it was a black hoodie with all black clothing…then I’d think robber or possibly trouble. With a regular hoodie in a warm climate, I’d think “maybe he just got out of a pool and has a chill” “Maybe he has a cold” But I’d watch the person’s behavior and actions. I wouldn’t go following. Really, the whole scenario is off putting to me. A kid should be able to walk down a sidewalk.

I heard another witness account on CNN last night. Personally I think Zimmerman will go to jail. It seems to be a matter of time. Too much time on the hands of the law at this point. As of today, the girlfriend still hasn’t been questioned.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover Offputting is a mild way to put it, I think it is a horrific event. I hope he goes to jail and gets psychiatric help.

Facade's avatar

I don’t have kids, but if I did, they could wear whatever they’d like as long as it’s not too sexual for their age. I’d encourage them to express themselves through their clothing.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I think being on alert because of how someone is dressed is different than actually pursuing the person. Honestly, a teen by himself with a hoodie on even in Fl who is behaving normally would not send my antenna up either, even if I thought it a little odd.

Aethelwine's avatar

@JLeslie I am aware of leggings. My daughter only owns one pair at the moment, but she has several pairs of jeans and other pants. It would be nice to have the money to get her more leggings, but it’s not in the budget at the moment.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie I didn’t mean to make it sound like I think Trayvon’s murder is off putting. It is horrific. His screams for help give me the chills.

What I meant was a scenario where a kid gets followed based on hoodie wearing alone…I don’t get that. If this were me, even if I were alone, this wouldn’t get a second look unless there was some sort of action or behavior from the kid walking.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I don’t get it either. Following him was ridiculous. From what I understand the store owner had not reported any troubles. Zimmerman was told to stop following. He was on a crazy mission. I always say most cops care about the law and helping others. Then there is a percentage that like carrying a gun, having control, seek power, and get a thrill out of holding someone at their mercy. I know Zimmerman was not a cop, but his neighborhood watch position with his gun at his side obviously went to his head, and was used as an excuse to fulfill some sick love of seeking power and control in my opinion. It’s so wrong. I cannot imagine any explanation of the events that could make his actions ok.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I’ve noticed that some parents tend to dress their little girls up as though they’re much older. You can imagine how those girls actually DO dress when they become teenagers.

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