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A mom's letter to all teenage girls draws controversy

Posted by Kristi Palma  September 5, 2013 03:31 PM

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Kimberly Hall, a Texas mother to a daughter and three sons, posted a letter titled "FYI (if you're a teenage girl)" on her blog "Given Breath" this week.

The letter, a plea to girls who post provocative photos on social media, was inspired by an inappropriate photo (not pictured) that she said a girl had sent her son. (Photo: iStockphoto.com/double_p)

Here is part of what she wrote:

I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t quickly un-see it? You don’t want our boys to only think of you only in this sexual way, do you?

The letter has sparked heated blog posts and discussions among parents on social media.

Some parents liked the way Hill delivered her message. One commenter writes, "Fantastic post. We need this in today's world!" Another writes, "This is such a respectful, heartfelt plea to young ladies today. As a youth worker, I believe that this is vital for young ladies to understand. I will be reading this to my youth group tonight."

But others didn't think the onus should be on the girls to keep a boy's mind pure. In dad blogger Mike Juliannelle's reaction piece on Huff Post Parents, he writes, "It's not up to the women to protect men from themselves."

A blogger named Lippy, the mother of two girls, called Hall's post "horrendously hypocritical and disgustingly sexist" on her blog The Lippy Lactator. She posted, "I am going to take a stand for my girls who will be told they are nothing more than how they dress." Then she wrote her own letter "To my Incredible Daughters."

Hall's choice to place a beach photo of her boys flexing in their swim trunks in the letter did not sit well with many readers. It prompted comments like this one: "I agree with others that the pics are inappropriate coupled with the message. Girls won’t be able to 'unsee' these pics either."

Hall wound up deciding to repost the original letter, calling it "FYI #2 (the one where everyone's covered up)" with different -- clothed -- photos of her kids. Above the reposted letter, she wrote:

Readers, two days ago I wrote this post for my normal audience, which is usually very small. That said, I included recent pictures of my kids at the beach, and many new readers found that to be a grave lack of discernment, especially considering the topic. I agree, and so you can find the same post here with different photos.

Want to see how other bloggers are reacting to Hall's letter? Check out this round-up by Blogher.com.

What do you think of Hall's letter?

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Welcome to Parent Buzz, where you can read about and discuss the hot parenting issues of the day, find family-friendly events in Boston and beyond, and get parenting tidbits and tips.

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Kristi Palma, Boston.com Moms producer, is the mom of a first grader and a preschooler. She is a writer who enjoys cooking her grandmother's Italian recipes (when her son isn't launching paper airplanes into them). Follow her on Twitter @kristipalma.
Jennifer Clark Estes is a teacher, writer, blogger, and the mother of four young children. In her free time, she blogs at A Mom's World, plays with the kids (or chauffeurs them around), and is desperately seeking a quiet spot so she can read a book. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferCEstes.
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