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Mrs. Hall & My Girls

Dear Catherine,

I was wondering what you think about Mrs. Hall’s Letter to Teenage Girls. I have been reading about it everywhere. Do French parents have these same kinds of problems with their teenagers? I have a baby girl. When she gets older I know that I never want her to take ridiculous photos and send them to boys, but I sort of feel like it’s a double-standard.



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Dear Spanx,

Thanks Spanx! Thanks for granting me the opportunity to write the previous sentence, as well as for allowing me a chance to expound upon Mrs. Hall’s now viral epistle to half of the teenage population.

I’m weirdly both proud and ashamed to reveal my initial response to the letter. Here goes: Upon reading it, I had a strong desire to send Mrs. Hall’s sons a stack of porn. Purely out of spite.

As the mother of two daughters, I was hugely put off by Mrs. Hall’s overtone of blame and shame. (For any readers who have yet to see it, Mrs. Hall—a fellow blogger—has written an open letter to all of her teenage sons’ female friends, lecturing them about modesty, and warning that if any girl should send a provocative image of themselves to her boys, they will be blocked from sending anything in the future. Mrs. Hall will be monitoring. Yikes.)

This lady is making sexuality the enemy, and that’s only going to make things worse.

We have a very close family friend who is French. Whenever we’re out and see a scantily dressed teenage girl, he turns to me and says something like, “Promise me you will lock your girls in their room if they ever wear something like that.” Because of this, I was afraid to ask mon ami what he thought of Mrs. Hall’s letter. Although I’m terrified of the thought of my girls sending compromising, come-hither selfies to boys, I am more fearful of them growing up thinking that the female is always to blame, and that men only see them as sexual objects.

For you, Spanx, I broached the subject with my Frenchie friend, and I’m glad I did! As usual, he pointed out that our two cultures are very different (yeah, yeah, yeah). However, like me, he felt sorry for the girls who get dumped on. “In my experience in France, kids are little kids for longer. Boys still wear short pants until a certain age. But here in the U.S., kids get sexualized earlier. In France though, we are not afraid of sexuality, and we know that our teenagers are feeling—and doing—things. You can’t blame all of this on the girls. It’s natural. This lady is making sexuality the enemy, and that’s only going to make things worse.”

Amen, Frenchman.

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I am not advocating that teenage girls send compromising pics that will tarnish their reputations forever, but I am pushing for conversations in which both genders are taught respect. Being a teenager has always been confusing, but I imagine it must be more complicated now than it’s ever been. To wit: Miley Cyrus.

I hope to God that we’ve figured out how to navigate teenagery and social media by the time my girls hit the double digits. If not, maybe I’ll have to cop this family’s style and banish all technology issued after 1986.

Let me know if you have any better ideas!


P.S. Why Spanx?

Have a French (or any nationality) parenting question for Catherine? Email her at mommecs@bermanbraun.com.

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