DEAR ABBY: While I understand "Loose and Baggy in San Francisco's" (April 23) mother's wish to get the most out of her daughter's clothing budget, as one whose career has been studying the social psychology of appearance, I disagree with your response. A girl's early teen years are crucial to her development of self-image and overall self-esteem. This is a major reason for their obsession with their appearance.
Parents who want to assist their daughters through the quagmire of appearance-related issues associated with these years should work with their daughters by being open to their needs, yet not allow them to exceed boundaries of decency, etc. A 13-year-old who wants clothing that fits should be accommodated. Otherwise, she stands to become ashamed of her appearance, inclined to act out through her appearance once she gains control over what she wears, and be overly obsessed with it well beyond her teen years. -- KAREN KAIGLER-WALKER, PH.D. BURBANK, CALIF.
DEAR DR. KAIGLER-WALKER: Thank you for your opinion. Many readers also empathized with "Loose and Baggy." Read on for their views on the subject:
DEAR ABBY: I had the same problems when I was 13. My mom always made me buy clothes that were too large, too long, etc. But my grandmother was a clever seamstress who helped "nip and tuck" the extra material away until I needed it. She could also add new cool-looking details to the clothes. "Loose and Baggy" may also have a relative with a talent for clothing alterations, or if not, she most likely has a tailor or alteration shop nearby.
I'm 15 now and still have many of the same clothes. It has saved money in the long run because we can just let the stitches out instead of buying new clothes. At 13, she still has some room for growth. -- GRANDDAUGHTER OF A TOP-LEVEL TAILOR
DEAR ABBY: I empathize with "Loose and Baggy." When my mom and I would go shopping, it always ended in a big fight with me in tears. I was teased mercilessly by the other children for dressing like a "40-year-old" and never had the cool things the other kids were wearing even though my clothes cost just as much.
I vowed never to do that with my daughter, and by the time she was 12 she was shopping for her own clothes. Our only rule was that she had to follow the three B's -- no butt, no boobs and no belly. At 16 she has an amazing sense of fashion and is often emulated. "Loose and Baggy" should be given some boundaries and then allowed to buy what she wants. -- REFORMED FRUMP IN TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: When my daughter was younger, she had specific style tastes that included expensive, trendy clothes. I implemented a budget that allowed her to have a set amount of money on the first day of the new season. The money was given to her in cash or, later, in her checking account. She was responsible for budgeting the amount herself for her clothes during that season.
Because of this she has learned how to manage money, shop "high end" on sale and roll over unused amounts to the next season. She has become a responsible teenager who understands the value of the dollar. She also trades outfits with her friends -- or consigns them to resale stores. "Loose and Baggy" sounds like part of the "entitlement" generation and probably would learn more if she was part of the solution. -- SMART MOM/SMART DAUGHTER