So here we are, in the middle of the third wave of feminism, still debating what's appropriate when it comes to the way teenage girls dress.

Why do we care so much? And why do we care so little about how teenage boys dress?

The arguments go like this. Young girls are sexualised at an earlier and earlier age, and our concern is a reaction to this. (One of the teenagers Rose Hoare interviewed for this story made the point that even if this is true, it's not her fault that she's been sexualised. So you know, deal with it.)

Others view their concern through the prism of safety: dressing in revealing clothes can lead to predatory men making unwanted overtures, so it's better for girls (and women) to err on the conservative side. (Not true. Statistically, young people in New Zealand are far more likely to be assaulted by someone they know and often trust.)


When I was about 20 I read Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex and comprehended for the first time that to be a woman is to be defined in relation to a man. Because being a man is the gold standard. Men just get to exist, without having to justify how they talk, work, dress ...

So to all those teenage girls out there: dress however you damn well please!