Teens' Clothing Choices
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Teens' Clothing Choices
My eleven year old son hasn't worn shorts for about two years - ever since his legs started
growing hair. He wears long pants during PE, and we're heading out to a hot climate for
vacation where he will have his legs covered. And mind you, the hair is a very light brown,
straight, isn't that thick - in fact, it barely shows. I feel bad for him that he is
embarrassed and I would like to help him feel better about himself and his body. I've bought
cool looking shorts, long pants where the bottoms zip off to make shorts, given him
hand-me-downs from his beloved older cousin, and he won't bite. Will he outgrow it?
Your son will probably outgrow this. My son, at nearly age 13, wouldn't wear shorts for
quite a while after we moved to Davis. It was 105 the day we moved here! But it was a big
change from San Francisco, and hard for him to adjust. He's 15.5 now and I can't remember
when he started wearing shorts, but at least last summer. It happened on its own; we
Think of the ways that you dress that could be more practical, and have some empathy for
him. I still have vestiges of my SF outfits that seem a little silly here in Davis. I
still refuse to wear sleeveless shirts because my upper arms are flabby. We all have our
maybe this year I'll go sleeveless...maybe not
I have a 13-year old who's the same way. If he's not endangering his health leave him
alone, let him not wear shorts, and don't make a big deal out of it. This is the age when
they start to explore their autonomy and individuality, so leave this one alone, because
you're going to have many more important matters to get into disagreements about, believe
I have three boys and my oldest son, 15, prefers not to wear shorts, even when traveling
to the hottest climates.
He made this preference know to me when he was about 8 or 9, ''I would rather just wear
long pants.'' As simple as that. When I asked him about it, he stated he was just more
comfortable. We travel quite a lot and occasionally he will wear cropped cargos, sort of
surfer style, that go past the knees or those lightweight zip offs you talked about. Most
of the time he prefers jeans, but he'll wear lite cargos if it is very hot.
If your son did not state he was uncomfortable with his legs, maybe it just that he
prefers to have them covered. Here's another thought: My middle child was playing in
shorts in the driveway the other day and tripped over a toy, skinning his knee. His older
brother was going past him into the the house, and in the derisive tone that only a teen
can possess said to him, ''you should really wear long pants...''
East Bay Mom
My son, who is now 18, didn't wear shorts AT ALLl in middle school. I did the same thing
you did, gave him lots of options, even had his 2 older sisters pick out ''cool shorts''
the older kids liked, to no avail. On the hottest days in walnut creek he wore pants. Then
a couple of years later he asked to go shorts shopping. He is now a senior in high school
and has only worn shorts to school a few times. He'll wear them after school and on
weekends only, but not when he's officially hanging out with friends. That's just his
style...just as I rarely wear a dress any more! Don't sweat it, don't make a big deal out
of it. It's his choice!
For years my son refused to wear shorts. Just didn't like how they felt. So he wore pants
in all weather, including the height of summer back east, etc. Then when puberty hit, he
clung to pants even more strongly due to hairy legs. He's 16 now and within the past month
or so he has started to wear shorts. Who knows why--he was just ready. I say choose your
battles and skip this one. Have shorts available if he gets too hot and leave it at that.
Someday he may just up and choose to go to shorts...
My daughter wore a bathing suit in winter, too.
Been There Too
I bet if you thought about it, you would be able to identify a style or type of garment
you prefer not to wear. Leave him be. This is your issue, not his.
In most of the hotter places in the world people cover their bodies. There are good
reasons for this. Keeping direct sun off the skin lessens the risk of skin cancer, and
keeps the skin cooler. Wearing light colored clothing reflects light, also providing a
Instead of trying to make him wear shorts, get him some summer-weight long pants made of
cotton, linen, or some new miracle fabric. He'll be comfortable, and he'll be
appropriately dressed in case your trip includes visits to churches or other places where
shorts are not permissible attire. In fact, he'll be better prepared as a respectful
tourist than are most Americans, who think they should be able to wear whatever they want,
Don't need shorts to be cool
Your query brought back memories -- of our younger son in middle school, refusing not only
to wear shorts, but to ever take off a sweatshirt, even in the heat of summer east of the
tunnel. We'd pass out from heat exhaustion just looking at him, all covered up in the
blistering heat. It was hard to get him into a swimsuit, and then he insisted on always
wearing a swim top too. He wasn't necessarily embarrassed by his body, though that may
have been a piece of it (he tends to form moles and has a super skinny build). Instead, I
suspect he covered up to disappear -- to armor himself against a middle school world that
felt hostile. (Only years later has he revealed how ostracized/bullied he was.) He found
comfort in being covered up. He found his tribe in high school, and is extremely happy.
When he felt he belonged, he suddenly was happy to ditch the sweatshirt and long pants.
Dig a bit to see if there is something else going on. If not, let it go and it likely
will pass. (Then again, I know a senior in high school who still refuses ever to wear
anything but shorts and a polo shirt, even when it is freezing out.....)
Mom of Big Guys
My son - now 19 - hasn't worn shorts since he was about seven or eight. I never thought
about it being related to leg hair - he just says they aren't comfortable for him. No
jeans, either. Just khakis/chinos type of pants. And sweat pants for P.E. Oh - and no
long-sleeved shirts. Pretty much long pants and short-sleeve t-shirts in every kind of
weather. Although we haven't traveled to really hot places like Death Valley, we have done
some vacationing in pretty warm places. We try to find some slightly lighter weight pants
he'll wear, and leave it at that. I figure he's old enough to decide what's comfortable
for him (although we do try to insist he put on a sweatshirt or jacket if the temperature
falls below 40). No heat stroke so far.
to each his own pants?
Leave him alone! He will wear shorts when he is ready. Pack a pair of shorts for him in
case he changes his mind on the trip or be prepared to buy shorts.
there are so many other things to worry about
Yes, he will probably grow out of it. I had a phase early in high school where I never
ever wore shorts either. I played tennis in jeans. And this was in Atlanta, so yes, it was
very hot! Later on I just started wearing shorts again. I don't remember why. I think my
mom did a good job not pushing me too hard - I probably would've avoided shorts longer if
it seemed like she cared what I wore.
maybe he just feels more comfortable in pants
My son received a My Little Pony T-shirt for Christmas from his friend and wants
to wear it to Berkeley High. My Little Pony consists of very feminine drawings
of ponies in girly colors (pink, lavender, etc.) that for some reason is
popular with young guys. The pony on the shirt features pink and my worry is
that kids will gay-bash and bully him for wearing a pink & white pony. This link
shows it: http://www.welovefine.com/1802-sweetie-bell-derailed-pullover.html
http://www.welovefine.com/1361-rainbow-dash-paint.html People say ''It's
Berkeley, that won't happen. It's too liberal.'' I say gay-bashing is
everywhere, and teen boys are extremely insecure of their masculinity. It isn't
worth getting beaten to a bloody pulp just to show off your taste in cartoons.
In middle school there was lots of gay-bashing and those kids are now at
Berkeley High. I want to hear of experience with this, not just opinions &
speculation. Anyone know of boys wearing such shirts at Berkeley High?
My Little Pony is incredibly hip. You should let him wear it. And after all, isn't
it a measure of his masculine confidence, that he's not afraid of being taunted for
this? If the social pressure becomes unpleasant, he'll stop.
Mom of another teen-boy MLP fan
There is probably some camp value to the T-shirt that is not apparent to adults,
especially if his friends gave it to him. If your son is outgoing and has friends,
it most likely will be seen as a joke. If your son isn't a 9th grader, I wouldn't
worry about it at all, because he knows what he can get away with better than
anyone else. If he's a 9th grader, you might want to talk to him about middle
school bullying and ask if he wants to risk it. It also depends on the small school
he's in, some groups of students are more tolerant of kids playing with gender
assumptions than others. I'd say let him go for it, and just take another shirt or
a hoody with him if he decides he's getting more attention than he bargained for.
I've seen a lot of unusual clothing choices at BHS.
My Little Pony is a craze among teen boys and young men. Your son is just being hip
and will be recognized as such by just about anyone under 30. Just google 'my
little pony' and you'll see. There has been an interesting trend during the past
few years among hipster young men (including my 20-something son) to wear colors
and patterns and clothing that are traditionally considered feminine or even little
girl-ish, especially if they have nostalgia value for the kids. You see this a lot
in the artsy musician crowd -- look at photos from Burning Man from a few years
back and you will see lots of guys wearing whimsical ''little kid'' hats riding
bicycles decorated in pink streamers. I now see the little knitted hats with animal
ears in mainstream stores so I suspect it is no longer considered avant garde. I
like this trend. To me it seems like a healthy rejection of the super-macho ghetto
look that was popular when my boys were teens.
Feminist mom of hipster son
My 16 year old son and his friends have been doing the whole ''MLP'' (My Little
Pony) thing this year at Albany High. Some of them wear the shirts, some don't.
Some of them are gay, some are not. My son happens to not be gay, but has lots of
gay friends. He personally has an MLP background on his computer, and uses it in
facebook and things. If there is gay bashing they don't say it is a problem or
anything they are concerned about. I know Berkeley is different, but close. My
son has often made choices that did end up in getting bullied and that was just
part of his learning experience. We warned him and he made the choice. And now he
chooses to be much more conforming in general. Somehow MLP is conforming in our
I wouldn't worry about your son wearing this shirt if he wants to. It's black (at
least the one on the link is), and it's about as cool as My Little Pony gets. The
deeper issue may be if your son is gay, and his general appearance, affect and
behavior are perceived as gay. Then yes, it may contribute to others' opinion that
he is gay. If he's out, and happy with himself, let him wear the shirt. If he's
straight, still let him wear the shirt! It should be his decision. I've seen
plenty of tough, big, masculine guys wearing purple and pink these days. And at
diverse Berkeley High, there's a greater chance that it won't turn heads than at
most other high schools.
BUSD mom of 3
My son doesn't go to BHS, so can't advise you on those specifics, but we have dealt
with similar issues. In my experience, a lot depends on the individual kid. My son
had one kid in his middle school who was ridiculed for doing much less
gender-bending behavior than my son was. Unfortunately, ''status'' is a big factor
at this age and affects how far kids can go outside the norm. So regardless of
others' experiences, I think you have to know your kid. What does he say about the
other kids who are into My Little Pony and whether or not they are harassed? What
is his opinion about it?
We've had discussions (re: other 'style' and choice of acoutrements) about what is
the message you're trying to get across, what is the potential fallout and is it
worth it, what other options are there, what specifically are the risks both
physically and in the conclusions other kids draw, how will he deal with various
responses, is there someone (friend or teacher) who 'has your back'. As they get
older, these are the conversations they need to be having internally because we
won't be there to decide for them and they need to be learning to assess the
situation and make decisions.
I just asked my son, a senior at BHS, about this and he said don't worry about it.
Honestly, just graduating from Albany High and having some friends that went to
Berkeley, I understand, however, respectfully disregard your concern. I can
honestly tell you that no one is going to make any negative comments about the
shirt. It's black. It has 1 My Little Pony character. it says ''meh'' under it. If
you're unimoformed as to what is more humorous umungst the younger generation, then
let me tell you that the word ''meh'' has the implications of indiference or a
''whatever'' mentality. The pony is lying on it's stomach like it's lazy, like it
has that ''meh'' mentality. The combination of the horse and the word creates a
humorous message. My Little Pony has most likely been around for a while so many
people know what it is. People know that high school boys are not the targeted
audience. If your son does happen to watch it, there will be a miniscule amount of
people that will realize believe he does. From those that do, even fewer will
actually believe that he's gay. If he is gay, then I can almost 99.99% guarantee
you that nobody will harm him in any way. Berkeley is very progressive. In my
experience, I would fear for the life of the gay-basher more than I would for your
son. I understand your fear, but here in Berkeley the roles are reverced when it
comes to opinionated majorities of the stereotypical United States (''more
gaybashers, less progressives'' to ''less gaybashers, more Progressives). If I saw
your son with that shirt, I would chuckle and continue with my business. There are
too many transitive thoughts necessary for one to result in the thought that he is
homosexual in any way.
18-Year Old Post-Albany High Student
I must admit I really can't make out your problem. If it's just your son wants to
wear a silly T-shirt and that's all, and he's in high school, he's old enough to
take the consequences. So what if he's into Bronies. Lots of kids are. It's just a
popular form of cartoon fun (with a dash of rudeness). Here's a recent article (Oct
1 2012) on the phenom, but it's been around for years:
And here's an opinion piece on it from the Guardian (UK):
Now, if your problem is that your son is gay, or you suspect he's gay, you've got a
problem you need to wrestle with - and it isn't Bronies. Bronies aren't gay or
straight or trans - just good fun.
Your son has a right to his own sexual identity and privacy. If he's told you he's
gay, your fear of bullies and alienation will not lead to greater acceptance and
esteem - rather the contrary. He must *own* his identity proudly. And you should be
proud of him as well and not be afraid. Would you hide your religion? Your gender?
Your intellect? Your feelings?
This is giving into fear. Fear has to be faced. Yes, he may be teased. And yes,
there may be an idiot who tries to bully him. But bullies prey on the weak. Fear
makes one weak, but pride and awareness of one's own genuine identity makes for a
man or woman strong enough to endure - and capable of fighting for others who need
his or her strength.
And if he hasn't said he's gay, back off mom. It's not really any of your business.
A T-shirt is a T-shirt and nothing more.
My BHS sophomore girl says it is fine. She says the students wear a lot of crazy
shirts to berkeley high and they dont get targeted for it. This my little pony
motif is known and well accepted she says. So no worries mom.
Another BHS parent
My two boys went to Berkeley High. I asked them about your concerns to see what
they thought. A couple things.
They said these shirt are also being worn by some of the high school football
players and they call them ''Bronies'' (ponies/bronies?)
They also both said that they thought you should let your son wear the shirt. That
if there were any school where he could get away with it it would be Berkeley High
and if there were any problems he might have to deal with over it that perhaps
Berkeley high wouldn't be so bad.
My thought about all this is if you are worried and he insists, perhaps you should
go to the OCI office or the Vice Principle in Charge of discipline and give
him/them a private heads- up about your concerns. There are good people at BHS to
Hope this helps a bit
Hi - You didn't mention what grade your son is in, but I would say that unless he
is a clueless 9th grade boy with a history of being socially awkward and out of
touch with his peers, let him wear the shirt. I have noticed that many of the more
secure boys/young men proudly wear pink shirts or shirts with pink lettering and no
one 'gay bashes' them. Of course, these boys appear to be very heterosexual, so
that surely factors into it. Actually, this is a fascinating concern. My sense
(and I have a kid in Berkeley public schools) is that a gay child may very well be
teased or bullied for being gay no matter what he/she wears to school. On the
other hand, I'm amazed at the acceptance and tolerance I've seen towards some of
the more openly gay and even possibly trans-gendered kids, so we are making
progress. But to address your specific question, I don't think your child will be
bullied, teased or worse for wearing the shirt you described. I think it is 'the
fashion' among many of the kids and is considered cool. Go figure.
Hi - I became so curious about this that I actually typed ''My little pony teen
boys fashion'' into my search engine and I hit on an interesting article in the NY
Times called, ''Hey Bro, That's My Little Pony.'' Turns out MLP is 'hot' or 'cool'
among many teen boys. In fact, there is a word for teen boys who enjoy it
---''bronies'' - a combo of 'bro' and 'ponies.' What will the teens think of next?
So, concerned mom, your son is in fact on the cutting edge of coolness and you
should probably just trust him and let him wear the shirt.
I understand your concern, and think you are right. My child attended middle school in Berkeley and
a boy there got verbally and physically bullied for using an umbrella with flowers on it. It
didn't matter that he never used it again--the bullying was relentless for the rest of the year, as I
recall. THey were even calling each ''fag'', ''queer'', etc. in elementary school. This was
Berkeley, so all this talk about Berkeley High being so cool and open-minded rings false. Unless
they have moved, those homophobic kids would be at Berkeley High by now. It only takes one strong
leader kid to start bullying, and his friends will follow suit. Victims of gay-bashing are often so
harassed that they commit suicide. No one wrote to say ''Yes my son wears My Little Pony shirts to
BHS and no one has bothered him''. I think you should err on the side of caution here. Yes, it's sad
that boys have to be ''in the box'', but that is reality.
-You are right to be concerned
this page was last updated: Nov 16, 2013
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