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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Judging youth by the clothes they wear

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Perception is everything.

Whether it’s fair or not, oftentimes the way people perceive others to be determines the way in which that person treats and views a specific individual.

Consider clothing. Whether you consider yourself judgmental or not, there is a particular thought that crosses your mind when you see a woman who is scantly clad, or a man who’s wearing his pants below his buttocks with his underwear showing. Whether you find yourself thinking “How in the world could she leave the house with that on,” or “He’s a thug with his pants saggin’ like that,” you’re forming some sort of an opinion of that individual based on how they’re dressed at that particular moment.

Unfortunately, many perceptions can result in unfavorable or even dangerous actions, which concerns me tremendously since Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration is under way. This year’s Summer Celebration has a specific focus on youth — be it the Holla Back Teen Forum or the Teen Bling party — youth will be actively involved in Expo activities. From a realistic standpoint, many of these youth will probably be dressed in clothing that’s too tight or too short for the young ladies and too big or simply inappropriate for the guys. This presents a problem, because based on how they’re dressed, many perceptions will be formed that may or may not be true.

Males may think that simply because a young girl has on very short shorts and a tube top that she’s soliciting something. That male may then think it’s his right to approach the girl in any manner that he deems appropriate, thus possibly resulting in lewd, disrespectful or even disastrous circumstances such as rape.

While I’m all for a person expressing themselves by wearing clothing that reflects their specific personality, there have to be limits simply because of the society in which we’re living.

People aren’t as considerate and compassionate as once before. There are individuals out there that have absolutely no problem at all taking what they want: be it your shoes, your car or your body. Because of this alarming reality, we have to be mindful of the way in which we present ourselves.

In addition, as parents and responsible adults, it’s our specific duty to make sure that the youth in our lives are not sending the wrong message with their clothing and their actions.

Parents have to draw the line regarding what their children are wearing — it’s simply unacceptable for a parent to allow their child to leave the house with something that could possibly send a misinterpreting message to someone. Doing so, breeds danger.

One summer when I was a young girl, my mom told me that I could no longer wear tank tops because I was developing fast for my age and she didn’t want me to send the wrong message to anyone — male or female. While I might not have completely understood my mom’s reasoning at the time, I knew that she would never tell me anything that was wrong or harmful to me, so that particular day was the last time I wore a tank top as a youth.

My point is that parents have to assume an authoritative position in their child’s life — period. Parents have become incredibly relaxed regarding responsibilities to their children, and the time to stop such destructive behavior has long been overdue. By having such a nonchalant persona or simply trying to be a child’s friend as opposed to their parent is not fair to that child, nor does it set a good example. Such inappropriate behavior begins to form a cycle that is repeated from generation to generation — until someone is strong and wise enough to stop the repetitiveness.

We are failing our children and that’s disheartening because doing so limits our youth almost from the start.

As I enjoy all that Summer Celebration has to offer this weekend, I hope my sights aren’t tainted with inappropriately dressed boys and girls, and I pray their parents will prohibit such expression. However, the reality is, I’ll probably be disappointed yet again.

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