Dear Grown-Ass Women Who Write Shaming Letters to Teenage Girls

by Marinka on September 5, 2013

I know you’ve written letters to Miley Cyrus. A while back you probably wrote them to Lindsay Lohan. You’ve certainly written a few to the girls your sons spend time with, or the ones you fear they will spend time with. Perhaps a few to your future daughter-in-law?

I haven’t read them all, but they go something like this: Stop trying to be sexy, stop trying to be sexy, slut, whore, you can do better, slut, sexy, sex, there’s more to life, sex, slut, people will judge you, message to other young women, role model, motherhood, my boy deserves better, our children deserve better, slut, sexy slut, slut, slut, stay in school, and wear a bra.


Here’s the thing.

Teenage girls don’t read your letters and neither does Miley Cyrus. Perhaps Lindsay Lohan did, that would certainly explain some of her problems. But no, they don’t. They don’t give a shit what you write about and they are not going to change how they dress, or act or the selflies they post on Facebook. And you know what else? Your sons are not going to stop looking at them. They are not going to stop thinking about them. They will be affected by them and not even a letter posted online is going to stop it.

But my question to you, adult woman, why is that a bad thing?

Why is a teenager’s sexuality so threatening? Why is a woman’s body so dangerous?

I know why I think your letters are so dangerous and so threatening.

Because when I read them, I understand that you live in a world of code. And in that world there’s a dress code for “nice girls” and for “the others.” In my world, a teenager can pose without a bra and still be smart, lovely, and deserving of respect. What’s more, she’s the only one who gets a say about how she dresses and poses. But I come from that weird place where I believe that people’s bodies are their own business, including how they clothe those bodies.

So, stop. Stop telling teenage girls how to dress, look and act. Stop telling them how to deal with their sexuality and stop trying to “save” your sons from them. There are plenty of other people online for you to write to. President Obama is headed to Russia to meet with Putin. Why not send them a few letters? Sure, they won’t read them, but when has that ever stopped you?

See you at the bra burning,


One year ago ...

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The “FYI: If You’re A Teenage Girl” Debate. | johanna bayne
September 6, 2013 at 9:44 am
On teenage girls and social media: | The Girl's Defense Project
September 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

tracey September 5, 2013 at 8:09 am

A teenaged girl’s body is legally a CHILD’S body, though. To sexualize it online is child pornography. So, there IS something wrong with a 14 year old girl or boy posing in sexual positions and posting them online. If you or I (or our teenage sons or daughters) look at them and copy them (as is allowed), they could be unknowingly downloading child pornography. I know that Facebook has standards of what is allowed, etc. etc. But they have to have the pictures flagged, first. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to make it known that a parent has certain standards of what they allow. Just because I don’t ALLOW my son to look at certain things online doesn’t mean he isn’t doing it anyway. That doesn’t mean I should look the other way, though and not make my views known. My 2 cents.


Marinka September 5, 2013 at 8:33 am

but is being braless or in a bikini or making a duck mouth porn?

And I definitely think that parents should have conversations with their children about what their standards and expectations are. I just don’t think the wholesale shaming of girls for the sake of keeping the boys pure is the way to go.


tracey September 5, 2013 at 10:01 am

I didn’t get the impression that she was talking about just silly faces and bathing suits. She made a comment about wearing a towel while thrusting out in sexy poses with the door closed, etc. Basically, pictures they wouldn’t want to take in front of their fathers.

I am not of the mindset that blocking images/content is the way to go for my own kids. But I respect the mindset that some of the more modest of the world may feel. If she wants to keep her underaged boys (and daughter) from visuals that she feels are not appropriate for their ages, then what is wrong with that? Writing the letter to teenaged girls is a bit silly, but I’m sure she didn’t realize it would get the response it has gotten.


Roshni September 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I think what’s being said here is that let’s stop parenting other people’s kids and just concentrate on our own!


R September 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm

This reads like you’ve failed to responsibly teach your son that a woman’s body is more than a sexualized object. I’m sure that can’t be.


Marinka September 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I didn’t get that from her comment at all.


September 5, 2013 at 8:12 am



traci September 5, 2013 at 8:17 am

You’re so right on with this. I’m the first to joke about what a bitch on wheels I’ll be to my son’s GF/Wife/Harem but I’ll be damned if I leave a paper trail on the internet threatening her with stuffy holidays and reposting her bra-less photos on the side of a hotel facing The Highline.


susan weinstein September 5, 2013 at 9:28 am

Problem is the marketing of style. Slutty style takes over the need to be “cool” of insecure girls, who may actually feel modest and shy. And they may be too innocent to know what signals it sends boys and men, when what they want is to be admired. My niece went through this, with what was available in the malls, until her older brother let her know the very real physical dangers of wearing those outfits in the streets. I showed her “classy” can be sexy and she got it. Now college job with Free People, has both qualities. Also as mother of a son you don’t want a girl to exercise sexual power over him and perhaps get pregnant a mistake that can cost his future?


Marinka September 5, 2013 at 9:36 am

Susan, you know I love you in real life, but I completely disagree with you on this one.

I don’t believe in sending the message that there is a real physical danger of wearing a particular outfit in the street- that’s rape culture language. I think if a woman feels comfortable wearing something, there is absolutely no reason for her not to wear it.

Nor do I think that one gender has sexual power over another. As a mother of a girl and a boy, and generally a human being, of course I don’t want an unplanned pregnancy for anyone. But I don’t see a connection between outfits and sexual activity and contraceptives.

Of course we should be having conversations with our children. Of course. But we should stop blaming our sons’ sexuality on the way girls dress and we should stop shaming girls for their sexuality and choice of dress.


Maria September 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm

I love everything about this comment.


September 5, 2013 at 9:41 am

I think that letter was completely obnoxious. Very, very holier-than-thou. That said, I’m not a fan of seeing 5th and 6th grade girls who only post pics of themselves, mostly in their swimsuits. (Which quite a few in our neighborhood do.) Not because I’m worried about my son looking at the girls at all, because I’m not. I’m just sad the girls haven’t figured out that there’s an entire world to photograph besides themselves.


September 5, 2013 at 11:16 am


As a mother of two tween girls and a wee son who will one day be a teenage boy, I’d never want any of them to see that letter. What’s sad is that a few of her points were good ones (mostly the part where ALL teens should be aware of what they post online and anyone CAN see it), but it got lost in the sanctimonious attitude that all girls are bad and should be shamed for you know showing any skin, while simultaneously showing off her sons in bathing suits. (Which I believe she’s now removed. Funny but I bet her boys saw more skin on the beach that day than they ever have on Instagram or Facebook.) The whole thing is ridiculous.


Maria September 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm

It’s asinine to think that teens aren’t having sexual thoughts and aren’t naturally starting to find ways to express sexuality.

It makes me crazy in the face when girls are shamed for the ways they’re embracing adult sexyfeelings and boys are either told it’s natural for them or that it’s the fault of the slutty mcnipplerson teen girls around them.


Mandy September 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I’m going to toast marshmellows with my daughter at the bra burning right there with you, sister.


Ben Trigg September 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Thank you for this. Totally spot on.


September 5, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I’m totally against bra burning, but only because I really couldn’t leave the house without one. Do you have any idea how painful it is to get your boobs pinched by the seatbelt buckle?


September 5, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Omg yes. I read the post this morning after seeing all the hoopla and I’m so glad that so many of the people I read found it as preposterous as me. Having definitely been “one of those girls” I read her letter as being from one of those people I probably wouldn’t be friends with. Who has the time to check and review all their kid’s friends social media updates?


September 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Thank you, from the bottom of my 56-year old heart, thank you and I love you.

Until I stepped into the world of social media, I had no idea how rampant anti-feminism really was. I knew that women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s actually believed that any semblance of equal rights was their birthright when, in fact, some of us paid a very high price for those hard-fought rights back in the 60s and 70s and oh so long before. Their lack of appreciation and their unwillingness to fight to keep those rights bothered me. This was nothing compared to the shock, anger, and sadness I started to feel when I engaged in social media. I read with disbelief how these women and their male counterparts were actually actively condemning women of all ages as tramps, whores, sluts, and far worse for the way they dressed and how they behaved.

Over the past few months, I’ve sat with these thoughts trying to decide how to write what I want to say to all of them because I’ve finally reached a point of outrage at both women and men who claim to believe in equality and call themselves feminists.

Your reach is so much further than mine and I’m grateful you took the time to step away from the humor and speak about a societal condition that has allowed a new moral majority to take control of discussions in our private lives and in politics. The gap between the talk and walk in gender equality has narrowed significantly and, as a result, the populace of this country has managed to elect politicians who are equally divided. The branches of government cannot function in this divisive atmosphere. We’re seeing the results and, as we sit on the edge of another military action, all I can do is sit and pray that signing petitions and writing letters actually does make a difference.


Life with Kaishon September 5, 2013 at 8:19 pm

Any person with half a brain would be wise to advise teenage girls not to pose provocatively on facebook and instagram. This is common sense. I love when people spread words of wisdom. If you don’t like the letters, don’t read them and don’t share them : ). Love, Becky


Marinka September 6, 2013 at 7:02 am

I also like it when people spread words of wisdom. I don’t like it when they spread words of rape culture and hypocrisy.


Jenn @ Juggling Life September 5, 2013 at 11:47 pm

I found that letter quite distasteful, but then I’m not a fan of overbearing, authoritarian parenting or slut-shaming. Your post, on the other hand, I am a big fan of.


Suzy Soro (@HotComesToDie)
September 6, 2013 at 1:05 am

I don’t have kids so I have no opinion.

Ha ha, I ALWAYS HAVE AN OPINION. But you already knew that.

Instead of these parents writing letters to teenage girls, why can’t they write letters to teenage boys? Telling them not to judge a book by its cover and that a girl/woman’s body is her own etc.? WHY MUST BILE ALWAYS BE DIRECTED TOWARDS FEMALES?

Go on with your bad bra burning self, Marinka.


Alexandra September 6, 2013 at 2:57 am

Thank you for writing this. I feel so sorry for those boys. The mother telling them how to think and act and about how they are blameless and victims. Victims of those bad girls that make them think and do things. Because, you know, boys can’t think or decide or be TAUGHT to be responsible for themselves.

Thank you, Marinka.


deborah quinn
September 6, 2013 at 9:02 am

So I live in a place where most local women are swathed in black robes because their bodies (and faces) are so “precious” that they should only be seen by the men in their families. The flip of that message, of course, is one that smacks of medieval cultures (and US culture in the 1950s, but I’ve always thought of that era as our very own medieval moment): men have … urges… and those urges cannot be controlled, so women must take it upon themselves not to be tempting, lest the Urges take over.
Translated, it seems to me that the woman who wrote this post is–intentionally or not–saying that her boys are controlled by those little bitty heads that hang at about waist-level. If I were those boys, I’d be insulted in all kinds of ways. But if they’re thinking with those little heads, then probably they won’t even notice.
I love your post.


September 6, 2013 at 9:38 am

I don’t know where I stand on this. I don’t write the letters to the teenage girls, but I do feel women should respect themselves, and if they haven’t learned how, they should be taught to. The boys? We have no control over. I really enjoyed reading this, though.


September 6, 2013 at 9:46 am

Great minds think alike. Th is is just one of the many reasons I adore you!XOXO


Gdot September 6, 2013 at 10:07 am

Genius Marinka
Signed a sexy, slut, whore…. Currently wearing a bra.


Kristin Shaw September 6, 2013 at 11:49 am

I applaud that you’re standing up for feminism, and I agree with you that Mrs. Hall’s essay was presented terribly wrong. I think that she had good intentions (I know, I know… the road to hell is paved with good intentions). Her delivery sucked, but what I HOPE what she’s trying to say is for girls to respect themselves and their bodies. There may always be evil in the world and I think it’s going to take generations to come to rid ourselves of rape culture. In the meantime, let’s teach our sons to respect a woman’s body no matter what she wears and our girls to understand that come-hither poses won’t make her more popular. The truth is that people form opinions of us based on how we dress, and both boys and girls should show that they respect themselves.


Roshni September 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

That letter was propagating rape culture. I wonder if she knows how close she is to sounding like the religious zealots in the Middle East who want women covered from head to toe so that they don’t tempt men…wait, that actually sounds exactly like her! 😀


Mary Clare September 6, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I agree we can do better than insulting teenage girls in our efforts to keep our easily corruptible boys’ minds pure. The implication that girls’ sexuality has to be hidden away and that, if not, well, they better watch out for what those boys will do..well, sigh.

Related to this discussion, though, there is a point about making sure young people don’t post things that they’ll regret. And another point about teaching young women knowing that being sexy and a grownup isn’t all about going Miley Cyrus-VMA-style and finding a healthy sexuality and all that.


anymommy September 7, 2013 at 12:26 am

I hated that letter. It was right up there with “dear mom on your i-phone” and “dear terrible father who lost his temper with his kid in line at Costco”. Ugh. Leave other people alone. Do better yourself. Write from your own perspective about how you teach your boys to be respectful, engaged members of society, and how, while it’s normal to feel sexual urges when you’re attracted to someone, that’s a private thing for you to enjoy. Or for both of you to enjoy if the other party is willing. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.


anymommy September 7, 2013 at 12:27 am

P.S. I hated the original letter, if that’s not clear. Yours I thoroughly enjoyed.


Emmafair September 7, 2013 at 9:17 am

I got really mad when the first letter came out, and then more mad when another letter came out in response about talking to these younger girls and empowering them with advice. I said the same thing, these girls aren’t reading your letters in the first place. Love your take on it!


Deborah J September 8, 2013 at 7:25 pm

I read that post, and yes I didn’t like.
I found the whole idea of girls being evil and leading those poor innocent boys astray just offensive.
I work with teenage girls and definitely feel that some of them need mentoring from their parents and safe adults about on-line issues… and about interactions with boys.
But no more than the boys also do! Respect works both ways.

Here’s where Marinka is smart. (yes I said that.)
I was too busy commenting and thinking about those issues that I missed the most important point. What’s with the self-righteous attitude? Patting yourself on the back as you sling crap at teenage girls is a very sad way to get your self esteem.


blandine September 9, 2013 at 10:35 am

“I haven’t read them all, but they go something like this: Stop trying to be sexy, stop trying to be sexy, slut, whore, you can do better, slut, sexy, sex, there’s more to life, sex, slut, people will judge you, message to other young women, role model, motherhood, my boy deserves better, our children deserve better, slut, sexy slut, slut, slut, stay in school, and wear a bra.”

You obviously haven’t been paying enough attention and missed the “God/praying for you” part.
I wanted to point this out because knowing that she was actually following God’s prescriptions might cause you to reassess your position, right? Don’t thank me.

(needless to say, just kidding)


Donnamay September 11, 2013 at 6:12 pm

I didn’t watch the Awards show (I go to bed way early) and only read everyone’s reactions the next day. My opinion: if you were “shocked and horrified” by the show, you were too old (mentally, spiritually or otherwise) to be watching it! Switch to the Food Channel or Public TV. Don’t like something? Don’t do it, watch it, support it.


JulieBouf September 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Wait, that post was supposed to be shaming teenage girls? I’d have to agree that “that” audience will never see that post unless their mother’s (or boyfriend’s mothers) are forcing them to read it. See my first instinct, was that the post was written for her conservative friends so they could sigh, “Oh, Mrs. Hall, you are such a wonderful mother.” And I totally thought it was all about the shaming of other teenagers’ parents who are not sitting at the table together to scroll through facebook and instagram as a family.


Kimberly September 23, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I share this opinion with you. The lengths people go to in order to shame little girls and women is a bit creepy and feels like jealousy. I want my 15 year old daughter to be confident in whatever she chooses to wear. However. Yes, however. There is the dread I feel when she goes outside in her ass cheek short shorts to play basketball and I watch, and in a 20 minute time span I see 3 pervy older men in their 30s and 40s slow down while driving by and even stop to drool over her and they seem to be considering whether or not to stop and talk to her until they see me. This was on a rare day I was home after school. So now, this is what goes through my mind when she is out there alone. The world in full of scary people. For that reason, I ask her – please don’t. Please don’t wave that flag even if maybe it doesn’t make a difference in the end. Please don’t.

There’s no reason to bring shame into it. But there is no way she can possibly really understand what is out there at the age of 15.


Satrina October 5, 2013 at 10:08 am

I think it has already been said but: I love your post and I hated that letter.

I have a boy and I’m planning to teach him different than a rape culture education.


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