Updates: “I Blame Social Media” Responds

updatesIt’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “I Blame Social Media,” the mom who wrote in a couple days ago about her teenage daughter wanting to wear a thong bikini. This is part update, part new question, and part complaint that her original question didn’t get enough attention from all of you:

Thank you for responding and posting my question. I was a little upset at the lack of responses from your readers. Seems they were more interested in the first letter that day. But I thank you for your response.

I have spoken to my daughter about this. I was just kind of wanting an outside opinion. Like I said, my daughter, who’s very headstrong, likes to respond in snappy little comebacks like “It’s my body, I’ll do what I want” and, of course, “Everyone else is doing it”, mostly referring to her girlfriends and the likes of the Kardashian girls, whom she’s obsessed with. That’s kinda why I blame social media.

We live about 90 minutes away from South Beach, just outside of town. It is quite common to see thongs and topless frolicking on the beaches there. It’s actually kind of the norm for girls and guys. So she has been desensitized to it over the years. But that doesn’t mean I condone that, especially for my daughter. She turns 17 in a month, so, yes, she isn’t an adult, but I have to allow her some sort of personal responsibility even if I don’t agree with it.

Some of her girlfriends actually were heading down there this past Monday to lay out and celebrity-watch. I played hooky from work and joined them. My daughter made it clear she would be wearing her thong and, if I was going with them, that was what I was going to see. Two of the girls did indeed wear thong or very skimpy bottoms, as did a lot of other women on the beach. I reserved myself to pick my battles. That battle line was drawn when my daughter announced she was going to take her top off to get sun. When I raised hell about that, she laughed, saying it was a joke. But she also admitted that she has lain out “many times” topless, as have her girlfriends, who all admitted as much. So now, bigger than the butts is the boob issue. What do I do? Forbid her from ever going to the beach without me until she’s 18 or out of my house? We’ve already discussed the issues and the ramifications of the butts, which is only enhanced by the boobs. She just doesn’t seem to care about such things (her future, revenge porn sites, etc.).

I think that when I was a teen, I liked the attention even though I wasn’t sure why I liked it and what it meant and what type of attention it was. I’m still so fearful she’ll end up regretting this and it’ll comeback to haunt her. — I blame social media

Wait, you played hooky and hung out with your almost 17-year-old thong-wearing daughter and her friends at the beach all day? I’m wondering if maybe one of the issues here — perhaps even bigger than the social media that you blame — is the lack of clear boundaries between you and your daughter. You are her mother, not her friend. Sure, there’s an appropriate time — and, frankly, an appropriate wardrobe — for the two of you to hang out together on the beach, but I’m not sure a workday (that you’re skipping) with a bunch of her friends, with her in a skimpy thong and the threat of toplessness, is it.

Be her mother and tell to cut the shit or she doesn’t get to go to the beach while she’s living under your roof. Tell her you don’t care what the other girls are doing because they aren’t your daughters to worry about. SHE is your daughter and, at 16 years old and living in the United States (where we have a different culture around public nudity than, say, in Europe), where images can be discreetly taken and easily shared online, it is entirely inappropriate for her to be dressed the way she wants to dress at the beach, period, and it’s your job to protect her from the exploitation she risks facing by continuing to dress so provocatively at such a young age. Yeah, she’s going to be angry at you. Denying her the privilege of hanging out at the beach with her friends until she agrees to your rules will likely affect your relationship. But it sounds like you need a drastic measure to re-establish your authority and your role as a disciplinarian. (Honestly, I’d be interested to know when the last time was that you did discipline your daughter and what the infraction was).

In life, your daughter is not always going to get to do what she wants to do simply because everyone else is doing it. There are also going to be consequences to her actions. It’s your job to teach her these lessons in the safety of your supervision while she’s still young enough for the lessons to have some impact.


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at [email protected] with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.


  1. She told you that is what she was doing? WHAT THE EVER LOVING HELL. You tell her “then you aren’t going anywhere, you don’t make the rules!” Your topless daughter is going to end up on a freaking porn site. DO YOU NOT REALIZE THIS!! Men can be taking pictures of her lying out. Google it. There are millions of pics online of nude sunbathers unaware. You need to get your head out of your ass and put your foot down. If that means she isn’t leaving the house until she is 18 because she cannot keep her freaking top on, then so be it. AND remove her from social media if she strives to be like women who make sex tapes to become famous. You are the parent here, freaking act like it!

  2. From a person who was very stubborn as a teen to the mother of a stubborn teen: she is going to do it anyway. Keep her home from everything but work and school, and she will skive off both/either to do what she wants to do, and damn the consequences. As young as she is, and as much as you want to protect her, you may have to acknowledge that in this instance, you can’t.

  3. LW- you say she is headstrong but does she take money from you? We call it “Pulling the purse strings” Stop paying for gas, phone, car, clothes. You need to talk to her about Rape Culture and how dangerous the world is. There is the world we want and the world we live in. She needs a healthy dose of fear and she needs it before she goes to college.

    Look, when I was a teenager and first started noticing the looks, it was intoxicating. I loved the attention and the power of my sexuality. But I was unequipped for that world. This isn’t about slut shaming or blaming victims. I think many adults (myself included) have a hard time walking this line. But you have to walk it. Tell her about coercion and rape and pictures on the internet and child porn. Talk about drugging and too much alcohol and men that are down right sadists. Do a google search of sunbathing photos and show pictures that were from years ago that still haunt people and revenge porn. Tell her about Erin Andrews. She needs to know.

  4. You’re her mother, not her girlfriend. Act like it.

  5. ele4phant says:

    I feel like you are sending your teenager mixed messages here. On the one hand, you tell her she shouldn’t wear a thong bikini to the beach, but rather than yank her ass home and ground her, you went with her to the beach and let her wear what she wanted.

    You’re saying the words, but you’re not backing it up.

    Look at this age – she’s probably going to do what she wants and there are limits to what you can stop. Your goal as a parent should be to teach her to think things through, think about the consequences, and make good choices.

    It maybe too late now to lay that ground work – she’s gonna be 18 soon and if the framework isn’t there now she’s probably just going to do what she wants to do – but just because she’s probably going to do what she wants doesn’t mean you can’t make her life hard for trying.

  6. Northern Star says:

    “My daughter made it clear she would be wearing her thong …” Gee, she sets the rules for herself, then, I guess? Wow.

    Your daughter laughs at your attempts to “raise hell” (which means your “raising hell” is pathetically ineffective). And instead of even trying to say “You’re not going to the beach if you can’t abide by my very reasonable rules,” you tag along with her to the beach and watch her flagrantly flout your rules with her fellow shallow friends.

    How in the world do you expect your daughter to follow any rules, when she can “make it clear” that she has no intention of abiding by them, and you just accept that?

    What does her father think about this?

  7. I’ve never understood how people can sunbathe topless. Sunburned nipples is not my idea of a good time.

    Sorry you didn’t get the attention you feel like you deserved, LW. Maybe like mother like daughter with the attention seeking?

    Agree with csp… (s)he who has the gold makes the rules. If you daughter lives under your roof and lives on your dollar, then she has to follow your rules. If she wants to be treated like an adult she can start by getting a job and paying her own way. Maybe then she won’t have time to lay topless on south beach all day because she’ll have to be slinging fries at the MickeyD’s.

    1. I always worry about the burned nipples too! Did that once with a curling iron. DOES NOT FEEL GOOD! Actual trip to the Dr involved, in which he told me his wife did the same thing a few weeks prior. Hold that iron away from you people!

    2. lol you do realize you can put sunscreen on your nipples too, right? As I would hopefully assume you are putting in sunscreen to protect the rest of your body at the beach. If you’re getting sunburned, you’re doing it wrong.

      1. I haven’t been doing it but ya…duh sun screen. Did the topless beach once and realize that most topless people at the beach are not ones you wish to see topless.

      2. Yes I do wear sunscreen. However, nipples seem more sensitive than the rest of my skin (probably because they never are exposed to the elements) and so I feel like they would burn easier.
        Sunscreen doesn’t block all of the sun from getting in, it just limits it. My shoulders and face still get color even though I’m always wearing SPF 50 and reapply regularly.

  8. anonymousse says:

    I agree with WEES. You need to parent her, not go along with what your 16 daughter TELLS YOU she is doing. Nope. You need to set appropriate boundaries with her. No toplessness. No thongs. Cancel cable. Take her phone away. Change the WiFi password.

    If she wants to sunbathe nude, she can do that when she’s moved out of your home and paying all of her own bills-after she’s turned 18.

  9. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    How many of her friends didn’t wear thong bikinis? Probably more than did.

    The thing that happened was that you just shifted the fight from the thong bikini to topless sunbathing. If you had held the line at her not being allowed to wear the thong bikini she would still be fighting that battle. Instead, you caved so she has moved right along to the next battle. I’d take it back to the thong bikini. Tell her you’ve decided that she isn’t wearing the thong bikini again. In fact I’d throw it away. Tell her that every time she buys a thong bikini, which she must do with her own money because you certainly aren’t paying for it, you will throw it away. Then follow through. If she ever has a thong bikini you throw it away. You are allowed to make rules for her for as long as you pay the bills and for as long as she lives in your home. If she wants to be independent then that means she gets a job and works and pays all of the bills. When she can do that and moves out then she can decide what she wears, including wearing a thong bikini.

    Realize that she wants to push the rules right now so think very carefully about caving on any rule. She will just find something even worse to fight about so pick your line and keep to it.

  10. ele4phant says:

    “How many of her friends didn’t wear thong bikinis? Probably more than did.”

    Good point – it sounds like most (or at least not “all”) of her friends were in fact NOT dressed in thongs.

    LW – your daughter in law is using faulty logic and you are just letting her. I mean, you don’t have to argue on her terms or let her do something even if her observations are true, but it sounds like she’s just using hyperbole to make her point and you’re letting her.

    Put your damn foot down. Be the parent here. Don’t let your daughter use (faulty) logic to push you around.

  11. While I totally understand the conversation did anything bad actually happen as a result of this scandalous peekaboo with your daughter’s buttocks? It sounds like it’s pretty much a thing at this beach so I’m not really seeing why it’s so scandalous.

    Anyway apart from that however I do agree you’re letting your kid play you like a fiddle. She’s outright laughing at you now and you don’t have long to reign it back in. And to be honest if she idolises the kardashians I think you need to be having a LOT of long talks with her about having meaningful content of character over pretty much everything they represent.

    1. I don’t think it’s scandalous in general, although frankly i really don’t want to see it, but it sure is at 16. No child’s butt should be exposed. Sadly i see it all the time. The shorts these days fully have the butt hanging out. I always cringe thinking about what they end up sitting in.

      1. I get not wanting to see it but i’m just like, did anything terrible happen? No? Then maybe just cool the hysteria for a bit. It’s only a butt. It didn’t cause the fall of any civilisations.

      2. Nothing bad happened yet. A naive 16 year old topless with her ass hanging out is a recipe for something bad to happen.

      3. Well she wasn’t topless and I just don’t see how most of a buttcheek is a big deal. She could get creepy dudes hitting on her wearing overalls. If you don’t trust your kid to handle herself then worry about that, not the outfit. The bikini is really not gonna garner too much attention on a beach full of people wearing similar things.

    2. But again the daughter said she has gone topless before.

  12. Bittergaymark says:

    Honestly? The window for being hot is so short, I say — let her show it off. Why the fuck not…?

    1. I agree. I’m from Europe and mostly anything (except full nudity) goes here. Also, people who finds thongs sexy, will find an ordinary bikini sexy too. Unwanted attention doesn’t limit itself to a few inches of fabric.

      1. Yeah I’m kind of with this too. The focus should not be on what a girl is wearing. She’s not in more danger wearing a thong than anything else. And whatever, it’s the style now. In Miami it’s totally normal. The focus should be on critical thinking, awareness, intuition, self-protection, etc. She could be filmed or assaulted fully dressed.

      2. Ele4phant says:

        Personally I don’t think it’s a big deal for a 16 almost 17 year old to wear a thong bikini.

        BUT parents get to make through on rules and while limiting her dress may seem silly – parents get to set their own rules for their kids.

        If this is a rule the LW wants to set, she’s really not doing a good job of drawing and enforcing boundaries.

        Her kid *should* respect her rules – whatever those may be, and that she’s letting her daughter walk all over her and call the shots is not good.

      3. But CSP, she’s already in that world at 16, no matter if she’s in a one-piece, traditional bikini, or thong. The choice of thong or string bottoms doesn’t change anything. If Mom doesn’t like things and toplessness, she should enforce the rules and stick to her guns, but let’s not pretend a girl’s choice of clothing really puts her in any more danger than another choice.

    2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      In this country showing off a sexy body is usually seen as inviting sexual overtures. At her age is she ready for that. Is she ready to turn down men who want sex. Is she ready with birth control if she does want sex. Is she emotionally mature enough to handle situations where men approach her just because they want sex. Does she know that not all attention is good attention. Is she ready to handle men who grope. Is she ready to handle men who don’t want to take no for an answer.

      1. So, yes, all of that, but it should not be framed as being contingent on what she’s wearing, like, if you wear a thong you’ll get unwanted attention. If you wear slacks and a blouse you won’t. That’s dangerous because it’s 10000000000% not true.

      2. I mean, if the answer to any of those things is ‘no’ then perhaps the response should be to *get* her ready, because the clock is ticking for when it will no longer be in her mother’s control/ability to do so.

      3. @Kate – It isn’t about shaming here but these things do happen more if you are dressed in a thong. As I wrote above, the world we live in is not the one we want to live in. And if she is wanting to explore her sexuality in this way, she needs to be prepared.

        Everyone knows the worst case scenario is getting put in a situation with older men where she is forced to “be the gatekeeper” and say no then gets pregnant and everyone judges her for not knowing better. She is too young to navigate that story and that story happens every day.

      4. “Showing off a sexy body “ is totally subjective. Some bodies are considered sexy in a suit.
        “Inviting sexual overtures”? Really? I have been harassed many times while jogging in sweatpants. Did I invite sexual overtures?

      5. @csp Link please or evidence that bad things happen more to women dressed in thongs than street clothes?

      6. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        I agree it is far more than what she is wearing. You can be harassed when fully clothed. She needs to be prepared for all of that but she also needs to understand the message being broadcast and know how to handle it. I think her mom needs to focus on preparing her for the world but I also think the daughter needs to understand the world and how a young woman is seen in the world. She needs to know how to handle aggressive men in any situation. She is just more likely to have to handle them if she is dressed in certain ways. There is a reason that you get attention when you dress in a hot way. Her daughter likes the attention so it is up to the mom to make sure she can handle it.

      7. The rhetoric around shaming women for how they dress under the guise of inviting unwanted attention makes me sick to my stomach. It’s placing the blame on women and taking the onus off of men.

        This girl is growing up near Miami, where thongs and smaller bikinis are the norm. Really, the bigger concern here is that the LW seems to have trouble setting boundaries with her daughter. The daughter seems to be in control.

        I’ve said it here before and I’ll say it again. My dad’s biggest fail as a parent was blaming my sister’s pregnancy, at 19, on her wearing short skirts. Umm no. She got pregnant because our parents preached abstinence, not safe sex.

      8. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        The daughter shouldn’t be shamed. The questions should be do you know why this gets the reaction it does? Do you know how to handle a reaction that you don’t like? What will you do if a guy is trying to touch you and you don’t want it? How will you make a guy leave you alone? Will your friends help you out of an uncomfortable situation. What can you do to help each other?

        This should never be about being ashamed of her or that she should be ashamed of herself. This should never be about the daughter being trashy or slutty or anything else that says she has poor character and deserves bad treatment.

        It does need to be realistic. I think we’ve all worn hot sexy clothes and liked the attention and the way we felt in them. There is nothing wrong with that. She needs to make sure her daughter knows how to stay in control of the situation.

      9. @kate – I feel like we aren’t talking about the same thing here. If a teenager is sunbathing topless and wearing a thong, she is standing in an adult, sexual world. She is experimenting with her sexuality and has made the world aware of it. If you are in that world, you better be prepared. There are real stakes and real consequences to this.
        As a culture, we have come a long way. However, I think we have told girls to embrace their sexuality and bodies but have shielded them from the very dark sides of our world. And then when that world bites them, we turn our backs on them. The problem is that if we bring it up, we are shaming them. And how can you walk that line as a parent?

      10. @csp: that adult world bites adult women as well, you know.

      11. @hannans – of course it does! But for me, at 37, I know the world I am in and know what the world can be. 20 years earlier, I had no concept of what could happen. I didn’t know that my guy friend would get me drunk and try to have sex with me on purpose. He was my friend. and now things are so much worse with the permanence of the internet. Some of these pictures and stories will follow women for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen but it is the ignorance of youth that should be so scary for this mom. Every time you see a young woman go missing, I think of all the times I made terrible decisions and was lucky it wasn’t me.

      12. This is what I’m talking about. It’s gone from wearing a thong to going missing. A girl in baggy sweats and t-shirt is just as likely to go missing than a girl in a skimpy bathing suit.

    3. I’m kind of with you guys on this. We shame women so much for what they wear. Efforts would be better spent teaching girls and women how to handle themselves.

  13. This mother has no clear boundaries about her role as a… mother. NEWSFLASH! You set the rules, and if your daughter doesn’t like’m, that is her problem. I see perfectly reasonable demands from you, so I think it is ok to take the grip in this instante. I suppose you are affraid of the girl being angry, but that’s part of parenthood. Having rough times and a strained relationship for a while with her, is the price to pay for the sake of the child’s present and future wellbeing.

  14. LisforLeslie says:

    I know it’s totally off topic, but while I know the concern is about her being overtly sexual / semi nude in public, my greater concern for her and you is skin cancer. I’m serious. Do you not read? There is no such thing as a “safe” tan. Every time your daughter is laying out she is taking a risk that she will develop skin cancer.

    I know I’m ridiculous, but my god – show her pictures of people who look like they’ve been draped in leather and make her wear 50 SPF, especially on the nips.

    1. Juliecatharine says:

      For real. My parents are at the dermatologist having pieces of themselves cut out of frozen off every 3-4 months. I know it’s in my future too. The damage was done when I was a kid. Why anyone would be ‘laying out’ as a primary activity is beyond me. Sunscreen & an umbrella are your friends!

  15. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

    I think that ultimately your daughter needs a better focus than celebrity watching and topless sunbathing. What else is she doing? What kind of activities does she have other than the beach? Make sure she has an identity other than being a hot young woman. Does she have long term goals and if she does is she on track for meeting them? Does she have a job or do some volunteer work? Does anyone depend on her for anything?

    She can’t be a hot, young woman for life so she needs a better focus and identity. It is okay to be a hot, young woman but it can’t be her everything and it shouldn’t be her dominant thing. She isn’t going to be one of the Kardashians so she needs substance beyond looks. She needs to look beyond outward appearance. She needs to choose friends based on character.

    1. Yeah pretty judgmental for someone who literally doesn’t know this girl at all. And so what if she’s hot and young? Let the girl live, damn.

      1. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

        She can live. Being young and hot just needs to not be her whole thing. That’s why I asked what else she is doing. Maybe she’s doing a lot and this was a one day thing but maybe she isn’t doing much and has plenty of time for this type of focus.

        Everyone needs long term goals and some sort of realistic path to reach them. Does she have those or does she think she will be the next Kardashian? There is nothing wrong with being hot and young but it won’t last so it can’t be her only focus.

        I watched so many young women wash up in college because their only focus in high school was being pretty and popular. They were very successful with that but their grades were bad and they didn’t know how to study. When they went to college they didn’t do well. College requires so much more for success than just being hot and young. That’s why I’m asking what else she has happening in her life. What is her focus. If she has good grades and some activities that will help her with college she is on a good track. What she wears is really irrelevant. What is important is what is her focus. Does she have work experience. Does she know how to study. Does she have activities that will help her. Does she have friends who value her more for who she is or more for how she looks. Do her friends have her back.

        Being good looking can certainly help with success but in and of itself it isn’t enough.

  16. anonymousse says:

    I don’t think it’s really social media that’s to blame here, clearly the mother could be doing a little better about appropriate boundaries with her daughter, including being a good role model. Like, play hooky and let your daughter tell you what she’s doing on the beach in front of you and her friends? I know she’s trying to be the “cool mom” but if there’s blame being assigned here, it’s certainly not social media that’s taught her all these things.

    Every generation has stuff like this they want to blame on someone or something else for corrupting their children, when the reality is…you are her parent. Not the Kardashian social media accounts.

    1. Yes, at our age it was TV (all 8 channels) and the telephone, with the 12 foot cord you walked around the whole house with, stretching it to nearly breaking. There will always be something people say influence, and much of it will. I do think TODAY, with social media and kids being so obsessed with doing EXACTLY what these idiots do (eat Tide pods, Suction cup their lips, etc) it is worse. We used to have a magazine we saw a pic of or the weather girl now every second there is another post with people becoming successful off just their looks at that moment.

      I think the actual issue is mom not parenting. Mom is concerned about the thong and topless, regardless if in Europe people do it or whatever but mom caved just because her daughter said so. That is not how you raise kids. You don’t say “oh ok” because kid said “nah I am not going to do my homework today”. Mom has given the message that even if she doesn’t think something is a good idea, if the daughter says otherwise, she will let it happen. It is a slippery slope.

      My stepson is currently without the wifi password. WIFI is his life (video games and such) because he didn’t do what he was told to do, repeatedly for days. He isn’t bold enough to say “no I am getting on wifi because i want to”. He is being good, doing his chores and putting in some extra work to earn his wifi back. Last night was weeding and dishes and today will be vacuuming the house and finishing his own chores. Following that he will get the wifi back but each day he doesn’t do what he is supposed to is a day without it. If there is no consequence (not going to the beach if she won’t follow the rules) then there will never be any reason not to do whatever you want. Heck, if I didn’t have to pay my bills and nothing happened I sure as heck wouldn’t feel very motivated to do so.

  17. Anonymous says:

    @skyblossom I was wondering how the daughter was able to buy a thong if the mother didn’t want her wearing one.
    This would never fly in my house. My daughter would never have “made it clear that she was wearing her thong “ cause that shit would hit the fan so hard the neighbors would hear it. It doesn’t really matter what it is. I am one of those old school Moms and what I say is law in my house…period. If one of my kids doesn’t like that, it is lock down time. If you don’t follow the rules there won’t be any beach…and don’t think I won’t show up and see for myself.
    Mom needs to grow a set.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *