Generation gap

When Emma dresses up she always gets a dressing down from her mum.
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Indy Lifestyle Online
the daughter

Emma Barrett is 15 and lives with her mother, her sister Ruth, 13, and her father in Hillingdon, Middlesex.

I'm 5' 2", all my friends are 5' 7", so I wear 5inch heels to make me the same size as them, and shorter skirts to make my legs look longer. My mum hates short skirts. She says my skirt's nearer my knickers than my knees, and that I look like a prostitute, because I like to wear an ankle bracelet as well. I'll quickly try and run out the door and she'll say, "Wait a minute, what've you got on? You can't go out like that, you're only half-dressed." Then we'll have a massive argument, with her shouting in front of my mates.

I have my bust pushed up to the max, and my midriff showing, because I like it. I make tops out of see-through scarves and wrap them round my bra.

I came downstairs in some 6inch heels with a strap criss-crossing up the leg, and a party dress I was trying on. Mum was on the phone and she looked at me and said to her friend, "I've failed."

I dress for myself. I'm not dressing to impress blokes. My girlfriends wouldn't dare wear the stuff I wear. I've been banned from wearing a skirt at school because it's too short. I wear trousers. I wouldn't wear a knee- length skirt. Ever.

Men probably do get the wrong idea, but they never carry anything through. They're usually half drunk and stumbling about anyway. They beep and shout, but I just laugh. We have competitions with our mates, how many beeps we get. We're usually with boys anyway, but I'm not frightened on my own. If a man bothered me I'd knee him.

I love clothes. I couldn't go shopping and not buy any. I've bought 11 pairs of shoes since January - the most impractical sort. My boyfriend likes them. Some boyfriends get protective and tell me to cover up, but I tell them to get lost.

I do lots of exercises every day. I don't eat much. I've got to keep the figure for the clothes. I've got different food from everyone else: low-fat dinners, low-fat everything. My mum has to shop twice.

I actually think my mum's really pretty and she's got a good figure, but her clothes are terrible. She wears calf-length skirts with elastic waistbands, really horrible. They make her legs look fat, and she wears loose vest-tops with no shape. She loves floral, she's so out of date. Her shoes look like outdoor slippers, brown with holes in them, and she laces her trainers up in great big bows. She likes the "I'm here but I'm not here" look. I like the "Here I am". They know it's me walking in.

the mother

Jill Barrett is a company secretary.

Every mother hates to see her daughter growing up. From 12 to 15 it happens too quickly. I want Emma to grow up and have the life she wants. I just don't want it ruined by some mishap. But the way she dresses, it looks as if she's going out looking for one-night stands. I'm terrified while she's out like that.

She and I have walked upstairs behind someone in a very short skirt and agreed it looked awful, so why does she not care if someone sees her knickers? It's not that she makes herself look ludicrous, it's that she makes herself vulnerable. She's laughing now because nothing horrible's happened to her yet, but I don't think she really realises what men are thinking.

I can't stop her wearing what she wants. She'll just put something in her bag and change down the road. It only creates bad feeling if I try.

I've had teachers ringing me up complaining. They would make her a prefect it if wasn't for her skirts.

It all boils down to confidence. I think girls now haven't got the hang- ups we had. They're more aware of their sexuality than we ever were and that's what we can't bear. And we can't bear that other people might think, "What sort of mother allows her to go out dressed like that?"

They're deliberately dressing to look older to get into clubs. She came home on the bus last week in a pink bra-top with some loosely flapping cardigan. I went mad. I couldn't understand why she'd done it. Her heels are so high she can't walk down slopes forwards in them. She has to go backwards. They're impracticable.

I've always preferred the natural look. She doesn't need to dress like this to look good. She would look good in a bin bag.