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When I first moved in with them, I was very cautious about my dress, but sharing one bathroom, that quickly changed. I don’t prance around or hang out naked or anything, but if I’m vegging out on the couch or something, I may just be in underwear and a tank or shirt. And they’ve seen me naked and I’ve seen them in all their naked glory, and it’s no big deal anymore.
Recently, I started dating a cool guy. We get along really well and I see a future for us, but he is so uptight about my living arrangements. He was upset at me after a night of “fun” when I excused myself and slipped across the hall to the bathroom. It was 2 am and dark, I was in my home, and I was in my birthday suit. One of my roommates happened to catch me on my way back to bed and, after a quick good night to him, all hell broke loose. My boyfriend was so pissed that my roommate saw me naked. I tried to explain the situation, but he is still so mad, telling me I should have more respect for myself. I mean, really? I don’t have a problem being seen naked in my home, my roommates don’t have a problem. Why should my new boyfriend? — Homebody
Your boyfriend’s mistake was telling you that you should have more respect for yourself when what he meant was that you should have more respect for him. He’s uncomfortable with your living situation, especially that your two male roommates see you naked and in various forms of undress when you’re hanging around the apartment. It’s probably kind of unnerving that one of your roommates ran into you in the dark at 2 am while you were naked and were obviously cleaning up after sex. That’s an invasion of privacy for your boyfriend. And you should respect that, as comfortable as YOU might be with everything, your boyfriend isn’t there yet (which really isn’t that strange). Keep a robe in your bedroom and throw that on the next time you need to run across the hall to the bathroom after sex.
It’s not like social media is the first example of teenagers being influenced by others. Come on. Teens have been following and copying others since the dawn of time. You should do what every concerned and engaged parent has always done and decide what the biggest lessons are you want to teach, the most important things you need protect your teen from, and the best ways you’re going to reach those goals with the most limited resistance and strain to your own relationship.
How does your teen’s wearing a skimpy bikini affect the lessons you want to teach and the protection you want to lend? How is a more modest swimsuit going to help you meet those goals? Is it really such a big deal? These are questions you have to ask yourself, and if you determine that it IS a big deal that your not-yet-17-year-old daughter is running around in a skimpy thong bikini, potentially inviting attention she isn’t emotionally mature enough to deal with yet, tell her she can’t. I mean, social media, #movements, and your daughter’s friends may influence her, but they don’t make or enforce rules for your daughter — you do, at least for a couple more years.
When she complains to you that it isn’t fair that she can’t wear a tiny bikini like her friends do, remind her that life isn’t fair but that in a few years when she’s an adult and entirely responsible for herself in every way, and is more emotionally developed, she can wear whatever she wants. Until then, it’s your responsibility to protect and care for her the best you can, and sometimes that’s going to mean setting rules that conflict with your daughter’s desires.
This would also be a great opportunity to discuss how and why you think forbidding your daughter from wearing a tiny thong bikini is different from body shaming, and why, in/because/despite a culture of #metoo, you feel it’s important for a teen girl to dress more modestly until she is more emotionally mature to handle the (sexualized) attention skimpier clothing will invite from people she likely isn’t interested in receiving that kind of attention from.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.