Blame TV, Madonna for tarty teen-age styles

July 31, 1991|By Roy H. Campbell | Roy H. Campbell,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Maybe you've already noticed it.

Young girls wearing provocative clothing.

Look anywhere the nearest mall food court, public streets, the skating rink, the shore, parks and you are sure to find packs of teen-age Barbies all dolled up in cleavage baring tops, micro-minis, midriffs, Lyrca pants, tights, bustiers and catsuits.

To complete this look these 13-, 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year-old girls pile on the makeup and the hair mousse.

This seems much worse than the Madonna rage that mainly involved lace and jeans.

It was for good reason that many schools, fearing classroom disruption, routinely sent female students home when they arrived wearing overly revealing ensembles.

Who's to blame for this rage?

There are several culprits.

Blame MTV, BET and VHS-1, cable music video channels that show a daily dose of videos featuring women as trophies, women who are often attired in as little clothing as possible.

Blame the Fly Girls of Fox TV's comedy, "In Living Color," who are to jiggle television in the '90s what "Charlie's Angels" and "Three's Company" were in the 1970s.

Blame dance shows like "Club MTV, Soul Train" and "The Party Machine," where lithe females shake their booties in bustiers, bra tops, tiny Lycra skirts, fishnet stocking and flesh-tight dresses with cutout patterns.

Blame the Ultimate Bimbo Kelly Bundy (Christina Applegate) of "Married ... With Children," whose sexy outfits are applauded and whose sexuality is exploited.

But most of all blame Julia Roberts, whose thigh-high boots, super short skirts, tight blouse sans bra worn in "Pretty Woman" convinced romantic young girls everywhere that Cinderella getting her Prince in the '90s has nothing to do with ball gowns and glass slippers and everything to do with looking like a hooker.

Yes, these powerful images. And they are shown day after day, week after week. Naturally adolescent girls see these images as something to emulate in order to look grown-up. And naturally stores that cater to youths are fulfilling the fantasy by offering up trashy fashions galore.

But none of this could be accomplished without parents' approval.

While everyone knows that nothing is harder for a parent to do than to try to control their teen-agers' fashion tastes, this is one instance where Mom and Pop should just say no.

Downtown Julie Brown, the London-born host of Club MTV, does not agree. In a recent interview, Brown, who dresses in skin-tight ensembles from Betsey Johnson and Italian mavericks Dolce and Gabbana, said that young girls who might emulate her should be able to do it.

"As long as they don't have attitude that says 'Look at me, I'm a sex symbol,'" said Brown. "You can only look like a slut if you act like one."

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