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an open letter to teenage girls

FYI: An Open Letter to Teenage Girls Who Don’t Always Wear a Bra

By now you’re probably aware that Mrs. Hall thinks you’re a dirty slut who can’t be Facebook friends with her sons. By now you’ve probably been told 93,872 times in your life that The Internet is Forever and you should never ever post anything online that you don’t want the whole world to see because the whole wide world will see it and will judge you.

By now, my braless teenage friend, you know that adults have lied to you because you’ve seen plenty of things get deleted. You’ve seen entire social networking sites disappear (MySpace anyone?) and you know not to trust those adults who tell you that the internet is forever and that the world thinks you’re dirty.

I won’t lie to you. You’ll get away with 90% of your mistakes. I hope for your sake the 10% are small mistakes. I make mistakes every day.

You’re not dirty. You’re not slutty. Your boobs are perfect and though there is some wisdom in covering them up (and I’m sure your own mother has told you this so I won’t belabor the point) I understand the need to stick them out. It’s the same sort of impulse that led Mrs. Hall’s teenage sons to flex mostly naked on the beach. It’s normal.

mrs halls children

Biologically you’re supposed to be sexy and horny as a teen. It’s the start of the chapter where you’re ready to make a baby (biologically speaking) and arguably the worst both fiscally and emotionally. It’s prudent to wait, but many of you won’t. Though you can’t ever be a virgin again, the sex you haven’t doesn’t define you. It never will.

When the Mrs. Halls of the world say: “If you are friends with a Hall boy on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, then you are friends with the whole Hall family.” Run! Run my child because these few teenage years are supposed to be spent maturing into early adulthood. Don’t let anyone tell you that parents should be uninvolved but when parents are deciding who is worthy to be a boy’s friend nothing good will happen. Ever.

Mrs. Hall is right, don’t take your phone to bed with you. It’s easy to make bad decisions when you’re overtired.

Mrs. Hall is very wrong on just about every other front. Boys aren’t led around by their penises, they’re perfectly capable of seeing you in a towel or a bikini or even a short skirt and still being able to string together a sentence. Of course, there are moments where it will be difficult but that’s part of growing up. You’ll figure out what those moments are and how you got there.

Girls, adults are afraid of your sexuality. The moms who are teaching their boys that you’re nothing but a seductress if you dare go braless or post a selfie where your [gasp] shoulders are exposed are terrified. I’m not sure what makes them afraid. It’s possible that they think their sons will burn in eternal hell, that they’re worried you’ll knock on their door pregnant one day soon or something that’s less easy to identify. Just know that adult women who are concerned about teenage girls not wearing bras are fearful women. Know that women (and men) who are operating out of fear have no advice to give that’s of any value.

Your sexuality is part of you, and it’s not the bad part of you. I’m not convinced there is a bad part of most people.

I don’t care if you’re 5 or 95 if your skirt’s too short and your bikini is too small, if you’ve kissed too many boys or girls. I don’t care if you glam it up for a photo, stick out your tongue or twerk on national TV. I don’t care if you wear a bra or makeup. How you present yourself is up to you, there will be consequences, but they won’t be coming from me. You have value, and your value doesn’t come from covering your nipples and your knees. Your value comes from giving a little more than you take and exploring the world you are poised to inherit.

On behalf of Mrs. Hall I apologize to you. The world does value young women even if her words and the words of preachers like her would have you believe otherwise.

You’re good girls.