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My Daughter Wears Booty-Shorts, And I Learned To Love Them.

February 6, 2014
At age 16 and 120 pounds, Celia can back Squat 256 pounds, and is working to qualify for Nationals in Olympic Weightlifting.

At age 16 and 120 pounds, Celia can back Squat 256 pounds, and is working to qualify for Nationals in Olympic Weightlifting. You can follow her on Instagram as Celia.Huddart.

My daughter and I went shopping for workout clothes the other day. It was better than bra shopping, I’ll give it that. Until my brain kicked into overdrive, and I went from thinking, “wow, my baby girl is growing up,” to thinking “oh my god, judgement, shame, expectation, what will people think, does she know, does she care, oh my god butt cheeks.”

My daughter wears booty short. And her body looks amazing in them.

I could deal with the bikinis, I mean, it’s a bikini. It’s swimwear, I get it. Personally, I HATE wearing bathing suits, and the less wet-fabric clinging to me the better. I am not especially bothered by my belly-pouch, appendectomy scars or thighs rubbing together, because if you don’t like them that’s a reflection of your taste, not my worth. I’d go naked if the world would let me.

But my baby? Working out in booty-shorts? That’s something different. I  mean, that is, well, sexy. I love watching her work out. She’s a thing of wonder. She can do pull-ups all day long, throw around weight so heavy that I can barely lift it, her form – the mechanics of her weight-lifting – is damned near flawless. It blows my mind how strong she is. Watching her discover CrossFit was like watching a tree-dwelling fish fall off a branch into a river for the first time. I swear, I heard violins and felt the tears of virgin fairies wash my weary soul.

But the shorts. They are so short. They made me uncomfortable. I don’t really want to see the curve of her butt-cheek. I don’t want anyone to see the curve of her butt-cheek. So I thought about ways to break of her of the habit. Hell, I over-thought of ways to break her of the habit.

My favorite strategy was to borrow them and wear them. I was confident that she would not want to see me in them. That going to the gym with me wearing booty-shorts would bother her to the point that she’d give me one of those “eeewww, gross, mmmoooooommmmms” that only a teenager has the nasal fortitude and eyeball-flexibility to deliver with proper flair. Victorious, I would exclaim “RIGHT! And it’s no better when you wear them.”

And then came the subtext.

I fucking hate subtext.

What would I really be telling her if I convinced her not to wear those shorts?

That she should be ashamed of her body? I  mean, there’s really no way for me to say, “cover that up” without saying “people shouldn’t see that.” I don’t want her to be ashamed of her body. Not for one millisecond. So I watched her walk through the gym. I have never seen her look so confident. So proud. So strong. She beams and floats through the place. And her body is magnificent. Such a slight figure doing things that exhibit unlikely strength. What is there to be ashamed of? Nothing. That’s what.

That she should be concerned about what other people think of her body? She is not responsible for whatever I feel looking at her. Or whatever some guy or girl feels looking at her. It is not her job to squeeze all the raw power that is her into some little corset of expectation. She is not responsible for other people’s shit, whether it’s horniness or shame or….  none of it. And I am not about to teach her that she is. Aint. Gonna. Happen.

That she shouldn’t do what makes her feel the strongest and happiest because some people expect something else? No. She says that she feels like she can lift better and work out better in things that don’t get in the way. “I don’t care how you feel empowered honey, squish that power down, girl, so that others won’t judge you harshly.” Um? Nope.

I watched her doing a Clean & Jerk with such power and precision, and couldn’t reconcile that with the imaginary conversation I was having in my head about why she needed to cover up. Granted, part of the problem is that even in my imaginary conversation, she’s smarter (and stronger) than me. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that if I really were to put on those booty shorts, she would either not notice and not say a thing, or say, “your body, your choice, you always do what makes you feel the most like you.”

I know that, at it’s core, my problem is that I don’t really want her to grow up, and be all autonomous, far away from me. I love her, I want her near me. I like her, I want her near me. (I raised her, I want her strong and empowered, wherever she is, whatever she is doing, I remind myself.)

And that I want to protect her from anything and everything I can. Including judgement, and…..  And what? Shame? There’s the rub. She can’t experience shame unless we teach it to her. She has done nothing wrong, and she knows it in her core, in her every pore. If I tell her she has, she’ll learn to second guess her judgement, her body, her right to be and express herself however she wishes. And I will be to blame for that.

And, no, I won’t teach her that if someone looks at her and thinks she’s sexy that there is anything wrong with that. Because there’s not. There is nothing wrong with her being sexy. There is nothing wrong with someone feeling sexual feelings when they look at her.

There is a LOT wrong with my telling her that it’s her responsibility to police, control and mitigate other people’s impulses.

She moves on to kettlebell swings. With a heavier kettlebell than I ever lift. She bends at the waist, knees bent, butt back, then with an almost violent thrust of the hips sends the kettlebell up in the air, perfectly controlled by gently bent arms and her gaze straight ahead. Pure power, unfettered focus.

I am so in love with her. With this mighty little powerhouse who has set goals and surpassed them. Who has discovered strength that surprises even her. Who is comfortable in her body and her power in a way that I have only tasted as an adult, and would never have understood at her young age.

I would never, NEVER, ask her to cover any of it up. I would never want her to change so  much as a hair on her head to pander to my neurosis or society’s demonic need to control young women like her.

I picked out the last 3 pairs of booty shorts. And a couple pairs of spandex tights, for colder days. When I look at her now, all I see is strength, courage, confidence, and an ease that is capable of moving not just weight, but minds and hearts.

I am in awe of her. All of her.

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40 Comments leave one →
  1. Crossfittin Mom permalink
    February 7, 2014 1:03 pm

    I have 2 little girls, 2 and 6 and I myself wear the booty shorts and know how good I feel in them because I have earned my muscle, power, strength and confidence. As much as I don’t want them to grow up I do want them to feel that confidence in themselves and know that they look as good as they feel. I can only imagine the rude comments coming from this post but I can only agree. I do not want them to grow up I want them to be close forever. However, I know that will never happen they have to grow up sooner or later AND They should be proud of what they have built in themselves!

  2. February 7, 2014 1:18 pm

    This was excellent to read. First of all, I’m inspired to stick with my Jillian Michaels workout and kick some ass today. Second, as anti-rape culture activist, as a new “mom” (not a step mom by marriage but in a relationship with a man who has kids. I feed them, talk with them, provide consequences when necessary, we do reading time.. I love those kids and they are family), I completely understand that knee-jerk reaction AND the utter shame that happens after it. because.. you know, we know what that implies.

    That’s why, at Slutwalk last year, I brought up having patience with people who unwittingly, or those who completely deny, support rape culture.. Because rape culture, in many ways, comes out of a place of wanting to protect. If we “can’t do anything about attackers,” then we might as well control the (potential) victim next to us, right? *sigh* It’s a nasty cycle. I was truly upset when I caught it in myself last summer. The littlest girl likes to paint her nails, wear make up and pretend she’s a grown up woman which horrified me sometimes.. I caught myself thinking it was because she was trying to be sexy and it was just inappropriate. But I knew my reason for not liking the behavior was wrong.

    I read a parenting blog that pointed out only adults put sexiness on children. *We* say they are trying to be sexy.. Kids? They’re just imitating. It was so enlightening to read. This parenting thing is pretty new for me. The challenges are surprising and harder than anything else I’ve endured (it feels like).. but worth it 🙂

  3. Frazier permalink
    February 7, 2014 1:55 pm

    Way to go- I’m sure it is not easy for any father to dig deep and truly find how he feels, to stop letting the world control his thoughts on how be should raise his kids. I am a 17 year old boy. And with that being said you probably understand struggles that I would face going to my box to workout. I was. Dry worried when I started Crossfit about working out co-ed. There will always be ; in my opinion, girls who flaunt their body and want you to look at them. They are more concerned about jacking with the minds of testosterone filled boys than actually getting any work done. But then there are those ” strong women” and I am not talking about their PR on Clean and Jeark when I say ” strong” I mean they want to workout.
    There were about 4 of these women in my box. And they worked hard! Naturally they had amazing bodies. But when I looked at them that is not what caught my attention, when I looked at their cofidence and there pure determination I saw Compeators. Your daughter is obviously this type of girl. Be proud of here, always. She is acting the total opposite of how society tells her to act. thank you for this post have a nice day.

  4. February 7, 2014 2:04 pm

    Who would have thought that I could tear up over an article about booty shorts?

    This was so well written — I can imagine my own mother going through the same thought process. I’m in my 20s, fairly petite, previously unathletic, and recently discovered CrossFit. I never used to wear shorts, much less booty shorts — but CrossFit gave me the confidence to put them on, and I LOVE them. (I also love that the Reebok pair has “I’m the toughest girl I know” on the inside of the waistband.)

    Thank you for sharing your thought process — I’m sure a lot of moms can relate.

  5. Ann Jeanette permalink
    February 7, 2014 8:32 pm

    Frazier, Do you or any of the other guys in your box wear booty shorts? Probably not. Why not? Are you ashamed of your body? Probably not. I’m a crossfit grandma. I’m the oldest person at my box. I’m strong. I love to work out. I love to be strong and healthy. I encourage my children and grandchildren to be strong and healthy. And to practice modesty. It’s not because they should be ashamed of their bodies, as the author implies when she says she won’t discourage her daughter from wearing booty shorts. Personally, I would discourage my daughter and granddaughters from wearing booty shorts. Actually, I might not even have to as they are quite secure in their womanhood and I honestly don’t think they feel the need to draw attention to their butts. I absolutely believe that women who feel this need have a low opinion of their worth as women. That it’s not enough to want to be strong and competitive women, but that they have to look a certain way as well. They have to be attractive to men to be truly successful. Why is it, do you suppose that it’s perfectly fine for men to wear shorts and tank tops to the gym but if a woman dresses the same way she’s somehow ashamed of her body? Booty shorts don’t enhance a woman’s performance in any WOD. If they did men would be wearing them as well. People will always recognize a woman’s strength, beauty, grace, and confidence by her actions, not the amount of skin she shows.

  6. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    February 7, 2014 9:07 pm

    Ann, this is not a question of telling women that they should wear something, it’s a question of NOT telling them that they shouldn’t. I can assure you that neither my daughter nor I have low self-esteem, nor do we dress to attract attention and more than we dress to seek the approval of people like you would like to judge us. And if you look at most of the competitive crossfit men, they do, in fact, wear spandex shorts and often take their shirts off, they leave little to the imagination. Personally, I cannot stand having baggy clothes on me anywhere. And I couldn’t care less what someone thinks of my body or my clothing choices. Which is precisely why I was disappointed in myself for thinking my daughter should somehow behave differently.

    And I assure you, you do not have the mind-reading powers to know what a woman is thinking when she dresses. Your suggestion that you do is the same things that feed rape culture. It’s what allows people to say, “she’s asking for it.”

    I am also quite secure in my womanhood. And feel no need to cover myself up. Especially to please people who think the know how women “should” behave.

  7. February 9, 2014 2:58 pm

    Thank you again. I love your writing. You so nailed the impulse to keep children safe because we want to protect them from what society might think. But really, their freedom, self love and confidence to lead and express themselves is what will serve them most. In anything that the world throws at them.

    Thank you for not passing on shame.

    Well done!

  8. February 19, 2014 7:24 pm

    This is brilliantly written.

  9. February 19, 2014 11:55 pm

    Very funny. I have two daughters as well- now 21 and 18. I like the idea that they would have vibrant and varied sex lives and go out and stun the world. They seem to be more keen on acting like they are married with their respective boyfriends. My fifteen year old son does the same thing. Where did that come from? I’m not bothered if they are happy but it makes me feel like an ageing hippy.

  10. March 1, 2014 6:29 pm

    You go, mama! My mom always pushed me to enjoy and show off the body I work so hard for. I’m glad to hear of other mothers doing the same. I hear too many women my age speaking in very nasty terms about other women who have the confidence to show off their body. It makes me sad to hear women tear down other women instead of build them up. A powerful body is a thing of beauty!!

  11. May 3, 2014 4:49 pm

    Hello, I am an athlete and do wear short shorts during training, HOWEVER, my cheeks do not hang out of the bottom though they stop on the brink. I wear them in comfort for both training and competition in movement, and I analyze my mechanics by being able to see my body’s movements more easily with reduced clothing…but to imply a that you should not have a problem exposing your more sensitive areas to the world I find saddening as a parent.

    Whether or not you are responsible for another person’s actions has nothing to do with the positions you place yourself in…if you want to reduce the risk of the likelihood of such catastrophic events happening in your life, you limit yourself to the exposure of those things which would increase the risk. Though she may not pave value in or on her body right now, you increase the possibility of her value in herself shifting from who she is, to get body when men and other girls start commenting on how nice this or that is on her body. When someone compliments you, you smile, it makes you feel good as child (most adults are just as simple as well); so your little young lady begins wanting to expose herself more and more frequently looking for those same comments and compliments. What happens when her body begins to change, she gets injured and can’t train for 6 months, loses muscle definition, gains body fat and doesn’t look so nice by yours and get standards and she is seeking those same compliments but can’t receive them because it isn’t there? What happens to her value as a woman? No one can predict the future, but don’t open up the door of opportunity for her to ever be able to confuse where her value should be. I work with tons of kids from age 10 – 23 with varying backgrounds from wealthy, spoiled, well behaved, respectful to broken, abused, retarded, impoverished, and despite how close you think you are with your child there are several closets within her you may never know nor experience. I challenge you to rethink your opinion.

    In simplicity, God created Adam and Eve naked. After they sinned and ate the forbidden fruit, THEIR eyes were opened to knowledge and THEY saw they were naked AND COVERED themselves. Then GOD COVERED THEM before removing them from the garden. Simply put, if their, God’s original human creation, response to knowledge was to cover themselves, I’d assume the knowledgeable thing is to keep ourselves covered to the world and only expose ourselves in intimacy. They were in a world ALONE and God covered them upon removal from paradise.

    In conclusion, whether you believe in Him or not, God will ALWAYS test what you believe no matter what it is, be prepared for the test.

  12. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    May 3, 2014 5:12 pm

    I’m just going to go with “you do what you want, don’t judge others who do differently.” But I am absolutely not going to dictate my daughter’s behavior based your belief in an imaginary dude in the clouds telling you to be ashamed of your body and that you have the right, responsibility or ability to control the behavior of others. So, nope. Not re-thinking my opinion on this one.

  13. May 3, 2014 7:17 pm

    Your post really struck a cord with me. It’s so true. Why was I taught that I have to cover up and feel ashamed of my body. I’m comfortable with my body but why are other people around me aren’t?

  14. May 3, 2014 7:20 pm

    Props to your answer. To the commenter: “you increase the possibility of her value in herself shifting from who she is, to get body when men and other girls start commenting on how nice this or that is on her body” no where in this post does the author state that’s why her daughter wants to wear short shorts. Maybe she enjoys wearing them because it’s more comfortable to work out in.

  15. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    May 3, 2014 7:21 pm

    Ya, you really can’t increase pride in something by telling someone to be ashamed of it.

  16. Linda permalink
    May 17, 2014 3:50 pm

    This article was written to convince youTrampy shorts are okay. It’s really Bad parenting in general. There’s a point in time where a child isn’t a child anymore, but you can certainly teach them to have the self respect enough to wear clothes that make them look good. Sexy doesn’t mean half naked.

    You’re asking your kids to be rape by a sex offender by age 12, pregnant at 13, five kids by 17, and divorced by 21. That’s sad but a sucker is born every minute.

  17. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    May 17, 2014 3:58 pm

    Ordinarily, I delete these comments, but I thought it might benefit people to see them. Yup, right here, Linda blames women for their own assaults, rather than blaming the people who commit the assaults. It’s the classic way to control people through fear and ignorance, while letting men off the hook for their behavior, because, you know, boys will be boys. (Yes, I’m assuming she’s talking about men, because this is usually the same ignorance that believes all men only want sex, and can’t be raped.) Fun times with ignorance.

  18. Linda permalink
    May 19, 2014 4:14 am

    Please people do not be convinced by a mass. Use realistic approachs not her optimism. Your brain can say one thing but it won’t mean another. Time flows like a river and history repeats.

  19. fabrizzo permalink
    July 29, 2014 5:41 am

    Why dont u learn to love your son wearing nothing by speedos as bottomwear as his casual street clothes?Why dont u encourage your son to wear booty shorts even more booty than these,and tell society not to judge him?Why dont u insist your son’s workplace allow him to go to work in yoga tights instead of working pants?Somehow i never see any encouragement for boys to dress freely and push the edge,only egging on girls to do so.Does society have a screw loose,or are they plain misandric?I for one am BLOODY SICK of being restricted as to what i wear as a man,only to see the opposite gender,ie women,enjoying unlimited freedom of dress at work and still complain about not having enough.

  20. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    July 29, 2014 8:05 am

    Well, I don’t have a son, so there’s that. And you’re making a lot of assumptions about me that show me that you didn’t bother looking to see what else I’ve advocated for. Because I have spent a lot of time advocating for exactly that kind of thing. For what it’s worth, however, this article was about working out in a gym. A place where men can go topless if they want, and women can’t. And I would be the first person to advocate for women and men BOTH dressing appropriately at the office. Which would not involve nipples or booty shorts.

  21. Ali V permalink
    July 31, 2014 11:27 am

    Wow Linda, even from your first sentence your comment is crap. I wear booty shorts and that doesn’t mean that they’re “trampy” or that I want to look like a slut, and they certainly have nothing to do with the respect I have for myself. Besides, the fact that my parents allow me to wear them (I’m 19) is because they know that I am capable of making my own decisions, it has NOTHING to do with bad parenting.
    I agree with Alyssa’s comment of how you blame women for being raped (or for any kind of sexual assault), which is stupid and shows that YOU have no respect for women.

  22. Claire permalink
    August 3, 2014 8:43 pm

    Wow, some of these comments are very strange. I think you are absolutely fantastic for allowing your daughter to grow as a woman, human, and athlete without imposing the kind of crippling body shame upon her that so many of us have received from our own families. As a proud occasional wearer of the booty shorts myself, they really are comfy!

  23. August 5, 2014 2:20 pm

    I LOVE this entry! Thank you, thank you! I wish I had been taught this kind of self respect as a teenager, would have saved me a lot of trouble! Rock on!

  24. September 23, 2014 6:42 am

    UGH. Victim shaming. Yuck.

  25. dioraddict2013 permalink
    November 1, 2014 4:20 pm

    I wish you were my mum, love this article

  26. dioraddict2013 permalink
    November 1, 2014 4:21 pm

    I love this article! I wish all parents fathers and mothers were like you I certainly would have felt a lot better about myself

  27. December 19, 2014 4:06 am

    I just found your blog through your “Mother of the Year” post, and have been clicking away. I absolutely love all of this! As for this post, I recently trained for, and ran, a race in my first pair of booty shorts. At first, I was afraid of chaffing, but more afraid that people would watch me run in them and judge. Once I got over that nonsense, I fell in love with them – heck I would wear them every day if I could! Lifting in booty shorts can be liberating, I’m glad your daughter is so confident and I’m glad that you allow her to be so!

  28. More than a mouth, anus and vagina permalink
    December 13, 2015 2:18 pm

    So you are OK with random creeps objectifying your daughter and fantasizing about raping her? Of course you are, because sex-positivity. Did it ever occur to you that some women want to be seen for their personhood and not their butts?

  29. Alyssa Royse permalink*
    December 13, 2015 7:41 pm

    I have no control over what other people think when they see my daughter or anyone else. Mind-control isn’t one of my many strengths. And what my daughter wears has literally no bearing on what any other woman wants or doesn’t what, or how they are seen.

  30. Megan permalink
    January 19, 2016 8:43 pm

    I LOVE this article! Both my daughter and I wear booty shorts (although she only started wearing them recently). Do you think it’s possible for a girl to be too young to wear booty shorts? My daughter’s 12 so I was reluctant about buying her booty shorts but after talking to her about it, I changed my mind. We had a long conversation about how it makes her feel strong and empowered and sexy. Although, I was surprised when she mentioned that she finds it flattering when boys check out her butt but she seems mature enough to handle it.

  31. June 17, 2016 12:29 pm

    Seems to me you handled it beautifully. Your daughter is fortunate to have you.

Trackbacks

  1. Using Your Grown-Up Brain To Deal With Your Child’s Growing Sexuality | Just Alyssa
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