In the summer, boys dress for the warm weather, but girls dress hardly at all. Most high school guys are in baggy shorts, while many of the girls are wearing shorts so short that parts of their rear end remain exposed. The "distressed" versions — with rips and ragged hems — are often called Daisy Dukes, after a sexy character who wore them in "The Dukes of Hazzard" TV series (backstory to follow). They're not a great look even beside a swimming pool, but girls are wearing them on downtown streets.

No matter how fine the girl's character or perfect her figure, the effect is trashy, hollering sexual availability. That the boys checking out the half-naked girls are themselves well covered confers on them superior status. (Do note that I am writing from a hetero point of view.)

Britney Spears recently sent the celebrity media atwitter with an Instagram offering of herself in half-unzipped Daisy Dukes and nothing on top, though her hands were strategically placed to cover the nipples. Not doing the latter could have gotten her thrown off the social media app.

"We know that there are times when people might want to share nude images that are artistic or creative in nature," Instagram's Community Guidelines state, "but for a variety of reasons, we don't allow nudity on Instagram."

Some girls may miss the point that Spears is selling her sexuality, not her computer programming skills. Women interested in being taken seriously should dress in a way that moves the public's attention north of the crotch. That does not preclude body-skimming outfits that reveal a female form, which, well done, can be quite sensual because they suggest rather than shout. The line here gets thin at times, but parents shouldn't want their daughter to flash "skank" in neon.

Speaking of parents, some are trying to stall the fashion industry's determination to push tawdry clothes on their daughters. They have written stores asking for less-revealing clothes, and the salespeople have passed their complaints on to the manufacturers.

But to no avail. Short shorts are a big seller.

Catherine Bach, the actress who played Daisy Duke in the sitcom, wore those denim cutoffs to the chagrin of CBS network censors. They insisted that Bach wear flesh-colored pantyhose under the shorts to obscure some of the nakedness. This was 1979.

The show's creators may have thought that portraying the Duke family as Southern country folk who sat around the table and said grace would cancel objections to the costume. If so, they were wrong. The Coalition for Better Television, a conservative Christian watchdog group, called for a boycott of the show.

Bach herself had mixed feelings about the short shorts. Some feminist journalists complained that they were sexist. Yours truly obviously agrees, but would the latest incarnation of feminism accuse me of body shaming?

Well, next time you see a young couple where the girl is in short shorts, note what the boy is wearing. Odds are that his sexual parts are nicely covered. The issue is female dignity and gender equality, and little more.

Froma Harrop's column is syndicated by Creators.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop.

(4) comments

Chris 22602

Women are allowed to like sex and seek it out just like men. It’s not 1950 anymore.


We’re not talking about liking sex and/or seeking it out. We’re talking about advertising like a wh……ore. There’s a big difference.


A good number of young women suffer from insecurity, or lack of confidence in themselves. Promoting themselves as "sexy" is a short term way of getting attention. It is not a path to long term happiness.


Advertising one’s body is what prostitutes do. They’re selling. Not getting into the right and wrong of prostitution. If parents don’t have the intestinal fortitude to raise their daughters to respect their bodies, there little that can be done.

Like Daisy, this is hardly new. Back in the 70’s when all the very short skirts were the thing, my mother was following a young women-with a baby-in the grocery store. This young mom wore a very short skirt. All was fine until she bent over. My mom told me there was nothing left to the imagination.

Personal dignity, respect of oneself, being a woman of mystery. These values are not taught or encouraged.

Back in the day of long skirts (and women had no rights) the display of a well turned ankle was considered sexy. We’ve come a long way and nothing comes for free.

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