2.0
April 12, 2011

Healing the Rift Between Generations. ~ Tonya Woolfolk

Photo: Yoni Lerner

I recently came across a posting on Facebook where a friend expressed her disappointment regarding younger women and teenagers dressing, in her opinion, scantily. She went on to discuss how it saddened her to see such a thing and she began to question, why young women would choose to dress in such a way.

I may not be the popular opinion on this discussion, I felt compelled to respond to a post I saw earlier today regarding young women and the way they dress. The responses to the post spoke to seeking validation, the absence of fathers and the lack of education on self-respect by mothers. While these could be valid points let’s put the nucleus of the family aside for a moment. What we are more likely dealing with today is a younger generation which refuses to define themselves by other’s opinion of good or bad. For every generation there has always been an older generation who has frowned upon the culture of the then youth. In my mother’s generation, 60s and 70s, they wore hot pants and mini-skirts, in the 90s, biking shorts, bodysuits and the list goes on. Boy do I remember my grandmother’s complaints about everything from the clothes to the music.

Photo: Jun A.

While we currently may choose not to dress in such a manner, we shouldn’t deem it necessary for others to live by our standards. Many of these young people are quite intelligent and ingenious. After stating this argument to others before only to be told, “well people will judge you by what they see or how you carry yourself.” Having argued, “what does that tells our children, we’ll only approve of you ‘sweetheart’ if you fit into the box we’ve designed for you.” Not to mention shame on “people” for judging anyone for any reason!

Older generations will soon find out many of our youth are making their own way. In most cases these young people are trying to maintain their identity and experience their life to the fullest, not their parents or elders. They have, or are, starting their own business and have no desire to join the mainstream society. Many of them have self-esteem beyond imagination and little tolerance for those who choose to treat them dismissively.

When giving the opportunity to sit and talk with our youth, focus more on their education (both traditional and spiritual), encourage them to continue to seek out their highest self in spite of the odds, as well as teach them about finding quiet time to be by themselves for true self discovery (meditation).  If we really have a problem with their attire, teach them that it is okay to be sexy and how to dress to best fit their body types. But let’s be real, there are so many other important aspects that need addressing in a young person’s life other than the outfit they choose to wear.

We teach our children not to judge, to be accepting, do not define yourself by what others think, believe in yourself and most importantly, to come to us when they have problems. But answer me this, if we are constantly judging them, and others, never or rarely accepting of them and their decisions, asking them to define themselves by what we think; why would we ever expect them to come to us with a real problem?

Just remember, no one likes to be judged. Being the judge and jury gives us a false sense of power. It also allows us to forget or ignore our past mistakes. Life is about focusing on one’s self. The only way to teach our children to protect themselves is to teach them self-love. It is the best weapon we can arm them with.

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Tonya Woolfolk is a reformed pessimist who now see’s life through clearer glasses. Her label today would be a Creative Extremist for Love.

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