Friday FREAK OUT! “FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)”

On September 3rd, an unknowing blogger posted a piece on her personal blog with a ‘small’ audience titled, “FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)“, which went viral and was widely shared and yes, WIDELY criticized. So much so that there is a specific Huffington Post page devoted to the responses to this post.

In a nutshell, Mrs. Hall urges teenage girls to refrain from posting pictures on social media that are sexually charged (in particular, braless). She packages this message of being sexually subdued with a call for self respect and living out individuality. She also describes a family task of reviewing social media posts and using those posts as conversation-starters about the impact of using technology. (I hope you read her post though- it’s a thought-provoking post that has clearly led to lots of strong reactions.)

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So people have been truly freakin out about Mrs. Hall’s post, and there have been quite a few very real, and very eloquent responses that deserve recognition…
Five Kids is a Lot of Kids shares…

1) Although men certainly retain memories of seeing exciting things – “like I’ll never forget seeing my first Ferarri!” he said – it’s demeaning to men of any age to presume they can only see a woman as a sexual object once they’ve seen her in a state of undress, and 2) This shifts an unreasonable burden of responsibility to young women for ensuring men don’t view them sexually.

Jessica Gottlieb tells us…

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.

Angi Stevens reminds us about the sex-positive approach…

But I also want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel sexy. I want your idea of sexiness to be grounded in what makes you feel awesome and comfortable and excited inside of your own awesome and unique body, whatever shape or size that body might be. I don’t want you to feel forced to conform yourself to anyone else’s idea of what sexiness is. But you have nothing—absolutely nothing—to be ashamed of if you want boys or girls to find you attractive. It is normal and natural and OK for you to find other people sexy, too, and to have sexual desire. This does not make you a slut. It makes you a perfectly typical teenager.

Karen Rayne gives parents wise council in her post, inspired by Mrs. Hall…

See, the thing is, your teenagers spend more time in their own head than in yours. You cannot control what is inside their heads. Instead, you should try and get into your teenagers’ heads along with them. Hang out with them there. Understand what makes them tick without making them feel guilty about ticking in the first place. You’ll eventually learn the levers, the moments, the small openings, when an opinion or a thought from you can slide in and fit just right.

And there’s so much more. I don’t have a whole lot more to add that other people haven’t already said so very well, and there are approximately 1,000 responses that you can find if you jump down that Mrs. Hall rabbit hole, but I hope you do. Her post, and the responses that follow mark a critical conversation that we need to have about the messages we send explicitly or implicitly to teenagers. Sexuality educators (and really parents, too) need to constantly think, “is this message telling teens that it’s not ok to be a sexual being?” and if the answer is yes, find a way to rephrase it.

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