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Teen Poverty in America

By two concerned grandmothers

We just spent several hours observing teenagers hanging out at our local mall. We came to the conclusion many teenagers in America today are living in poverty. Most young men we observed didn’t even own a belt; there was not one among the whole group.

But that wasn’t the sad part. Many were wearing their daddy’s jeans. Some jeans were so big and baggy they hung low on their hips, exposing their underwear I know some must have been ashamed their daddy was short, because their jeans hardly went below their knees. They weren’t even their daddies’ good jeans, for most had holes ripped in the knees and a dirty look to them.

It grieved us, in a modern, affluent society like America, there are those who can’t afford a decent pair of jeans. I was thinking about asking my church to start a jeans drive for “poor kids at the mall.” Then on Christmas Eve, we could go Christmas caroling and distribute jeans to these poor teenagers.

But here is the saddest part ?it was the girls they were hanging out with that disturbed us most. Never, in all of our lives, have we seen such poverty-stricken girls. These girls had the opposite problem of the guys. They all had to wear their little sister’s clothes. Their jeans were about 5 sizes too small! I don’t know how they could get them on, let alone button them up. Their jeans barely went over their hipbones. Most also had on their little sister’s top; it hardly covered their midsections. Oh, they were trying to hold their heads up with pride, but it was a sad sight to see these almost grown women wearing children’s clothes.

However, it was their underwear that bothered us most. Because of the improper fitting of their clothes they, like the boys, had their underwear exposed. We had never seen anything like it. It looked like their underwear was only held together by a single piece of string.

We know it saddens your heart to receive this report on the condition of our American teenagers. While we go to bed every night with a closet full of clothes nearby, there are millions of “mall girls” who barely have enough material to keep it together. We think their “poorness” is why these two groups gather at the mall; boys with their short daddies’ ripped jeans, and girls wearing their younger sisters’ clothes. The mall is the one place where they can find acceptance.

So, next time you are at the mall, doing your shopping, and you pass by some of these poor teenagers, would you say a prayer for them?

And one more thing: Will you pray the guys’ pants won’t fall down and the girls’ strings won’t break?

We thank you all.

{ 38 comments… add one }
  • Ray April 20, 2008, 8:59 pm

    Absolutely hilarious!

  • facethemusic April 21, 2008, 5:45 am

    What a crack up!! How come I didn’t see it before?? That was a hoot!!
    The mall in our area has been closed for quite a few years– too much shoplifting and crime happening in the parking lot area. One by one the stores left the mall until they were ALL gone. So now OUR poor teenagers don’t have a mall to commiserate in. But I know where they are. They’re all congregating at the high school where I work. Not necessarily IN CLASS, mind you.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 21, 2008, 8:28 am

    It was on the old site. I’m still trying to transfer everything over here…very….very…slowly…

  • kiar April 21, 2008, 8:54 am

    hee hee ! that is hilarious! My husband hates summer time, because it’s “when all the skin comes out!” He gets very uncomfortable when our 7 year old starts asking for sleevless shirts because “all my friends wear them” We have finally made the stand that if she wants to wear a tank top, she has to wear a t-shirt under it. So far its working.

  • Michelle D April 26, 2008, 8:03 pm

    This was really funny! It is pitiful and humorous to watch guys walking around trying to keep their pants up and girls trying to squeeze into any little thing. But this was a good way to express it! :surfing::pirate::rasta::rolling::jumping::crazy::hugging::dinner::crush::brokenheart: :updown: :fierce:

    The emoticons are compliments of my 5 year old who just HAD to add them!

  • Alison Moore Smith April 26, 2008, 8:05 pm

    I once sat outside the seminary building waiting for my daughter when a boy walked out, passed in front of my car, and his low slung pants fell right smack to his ankles. He reached down and within about three steps had them back up to their “proper” place, sagging down under his backside. He never broke stride. Apparently this was a regular occurrence.

  • nanacarol April 28, 2008, 6:47 pm

    I wonder what would happen if we really went Christmas Caroling with jeans and what would be reaction??? I wonder if it would make them think? What a good piece!

  • delmar April 29, 2008, 11:21 pm

    This is absolutely hilarious. The wardrobe standards in our home are interesting. I allow tank tops, but they have to be big wide straps. The only skinny tanks my almost 9 year old daughter owns is to wear as an undershirt to help cover her belly when reaching or bending. Its odd, shoulders don’t bother me at this point, but tummy is “outlawed” around these parts. Not that I can get away with tanks, despite not taking out my endowments yet. I own 2 tanks. They both get worn under a couple of maternity shirts that are cut too low, thus helping make them appropriate. My 3 almost 4 year old has become the clothing police in the last 6 months. “Mommy Victorias shirt is too short.” “Tori I can see your belly!” “Mommy these shorts aren’t as long as you want them to be.” hahaha

    Oh and I am totally stuck on finding longer length shorts this year. I am so sick of seeing little girls in short shorts!!! The only, only exception for “shorter” shorts is for sports uniforms as far as I’m concerned. Luckily bermudas & clam diggers are popular with little girls right now, so I can find them in some places. But in my size thats another issue. I’ve got 2 pair that are knee-ish length and the rest are capris. Although my mom is currently making me several more pair of gauchos, because I finally found a pattern I like!

  • Alison Moore Smith April 29, 2008, 11:30 pm

    delmar, you are definitely NOT old enough to remember clam diggers. *I* am not even that old. Maybe davidson can fill us in on the details though. :devil:

    Man, the modesty stories I have. I think I’ve already written about them (is that modesty article still on the old site? I’ll have to transfer it…) Suffice it to say that many years ago we went to a “temple standard” across the board. The lines are always arbitrary, so we decided to go with the arbitrary one that temple attendance draws.

    Once my fourth daughter went to the doctor–she was about 7. He gave her a sticker on a popsicle stick–kind of like a puppet. She acted strangely when he gave it to her but said nothing. When we got to the car she said, “Mom, when we get home can I color in the ‘kinis with a marker?”

    It was a Barbie sticker and–unbeknownst to me–pictured three Barbies in bikinis. She didn’t want them unless she could make them more modest. She is still (at almost 11) very, very careful about that. I love it. Took me a minute to figure out what a “kini” was.

  • Tinkerbell April 29, 2008, 11:36 pm

    My boys always get mixed up and say “modest” when they mean “immodest”. If we are at the grocery store and they see a magazine cover with a nearly nude woman, they say, “Oh, mom! She is so modest!” and turn it around.

    My mom used to do that in stores: turn around the magazines so we couldn’t see the covers. I was SOOO embarassed. And then my own son did it one day, and I was so proud. 🙂

  • delmar April 29, 2008, 11:56 pm

    I “shouldn’t” know what clam diggers are, but I grew up in an area where we used to actually “dig clams” and hense why I know what they are. The short length & name things is quite funny to me.

  • delmar April 30, 2008, 12:06 am

    Want some fun?

    Baggies, bermuda shorts, board shorts, boxer shorts, boy shorts, bun huggers,cargo shorts, culottes, cut-offs, cycling shorts, dolphin shorts, gym shorts,jort, lederhosen, plaid shorts, running shorts, short shorts, skorts, three-quarter pants or zip off shorts….also known as SHORTS!!!

    Three quarter pants, pedal pushers, shants, shpants, clam diggers, knickerbockers, flood pants or jams…also known as CAPRI PANTS!!!

  • Tinkerbell April 30, 2008, 6:58 am

    bun huggers?!? LOL

    When I was in HS, I wouldnt have been caught dead in capris. That was about as tacky as could be. It took me a long time to accept them as an adult just because I was used to them being so dorky. But now they are my favorite. Fashion is so silly.

  • Alison Moore Smith April 30, 2008, 9:05 am

    delmar, you are a wonder. In my world culottes were loose capri pants. I remember when my mom wore “pedal pushers.” All the rage. I think Lucille Ball was the queen of that fashion statement.

    I love capris, actually, because they are cooler, but no issues with “showing your religion.” I also love them because I am just tall enough that lots of “regular” pants become–to use a 70’s term–floods, and just short enough that I can’t wear most of the tall size pants. Of course, that might be entirely due to the fact that my current weight prohibits the wearing of any pants that are really fashionable.

    I’m working on that. I’m sick of this “baby weight”–now that the baby is four. (How long can you blame the babies? Even if it WAS their fault???)

  • davidson April 30, 2008, 9:36 am

    You can blame the babies ad infinitum. Yes, yes, I remember clam diggers. Or at least I used to;
    my memory is fading. There’s an open house at the nursing home, and I expect you all to be there.
    With flowers for me. And chocolates. And carefully prepared speeches of praise.

    (If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?) :bigsmile:

  • Alison Moore Smith April 30, 2008, 11:59 am


    Posted By: davidsonYou can blame the babies ad infinitum.

    Now this is very good news.

  • Michelle D April 30, 2008, 7:24 pm

    You can blame the babies ad infinitum.

    Ray tells me my extra baby weight and stretch marks are my well-earned “battle scars.” And believe me, I have EARNED every pound and gray hair!! I say, blame the babies all you want. Without them, I wouldn’t look like this, no matter how many years it’s been! :crazy:

    Davidson, I will have to work on my speech, but I’ll have flowers and chocolates for you at the nursing home! 😉

    Oh, I love capris now. But as a teen… no way!

  • davidson April 30, 2008, 10:46 pm

    I like truffles.

  • Michelle D May 1, 2008, 4:23 pm

    Truffles it is. Favorite flower? I’m taking requests. 🙂

  • davidson May 1, 2008, 5:28 pm

    Red roses? 🙂 😉

  • Lewis_Family May 1, 2008, 10:50 pm

    mmm truffles… yeah I need to go to bed, sorry for randomness

  • Oregonian May 2, 2008, 1:43 am

    Niasmith where are you?

    Dont you want to tell us that you cant manage to laugh at this because while you were getting your son immersed for his ap clothing and textiles class you drove your prius to the mall only to find that the founding mothers were very tolerant of how global warming had caused the boys pants to fall down around their butts?

  • Ray May 2, 2008, 8:37 am

    Oregonian, was that really necessary? That’s a rhetorical question, and I’m somewhat sorry for asking it, but everyone needs to practice their Lamaze breathing today. The tension is getting a bit thick here.

  • Lewis_Family May 2, 2008, 9:16 am

    I don’t mean this degrading toward you, Ray, but it could be that you don’t have enough estrogen to have the same feelings. Niasmith is really rubbing people the wrong way lately, I honestly think she made an account just to come in and tear people down so they feel as bad as she does. It seems to be working, everyone is a little emotional and that is totally a woman thing 🙂 So no, I don’t think davidson is on her period, I just think other topics are making people emotional and when niasmith comes on and just doesn’t have nice thing to say, they are all jumping on that… if that makes sense.

  • Oregonian May 2, 2008, 10:02 am


  • Ray May 2, 2008, 1:55 pm

    Let me make this crystal clear. My comments were made with two things in mind:

    1) We have had some VERY emotional reactions in the past 24 hours – VERY emotional (to which I am accustomed, btw, having grown up with five sisters and a mother and living now with four daughters and a wife). We have had apparent accusations of racism and other terrible things – not intended, I am absolutely certain, but felt nonetheless. That is obvious from the reactions. We now are on the verge of some serious things being said that simply shouldn’t be said – ever – among friends. Now, in this thread, we have had a scathing comment directed at someone who hasn’t even commented on this thread – a drive-by commenting, if you will.

    2) We have three options that I see:

    I) Continue on the current path of insults and accusations and defensive reactions.
    2) Shut down the comments completely and give everyone time to breathe.
    3) Inject a tiny bit of humor into the air to break the tension.

    I tried #3, because I don’t want #1 and have no authority to do #2 (and wouldn’t want to do that anyway). It worked for some people; it failed for others – but I tried. I’m a man, so take this fwiw, but I’d really like to see the emotion change. If not through poor and pitiful humor, at least through something.

  • Oregonian May 2, 2008, 3:15 pm

    Posted By: Ray… VERY emotional (to which I am accustomed, btw, having grown up with five sisters and a mother and living now with four daughters and a wife).

    maybe we can start by not having every strong feeling being related to gender or menstrual cycles.

  • kiar May 2, 2008, 4:54 pm

    oooohhh Burn!!!! nice Oregon! (sorry Ray, but it does seem that men jump to that conclusion. We as women are never allowed to be just ticked off, its ALWAYS “oh, it has to be that time of the month”!) Love ya!

  • Ray May 2, 2008, 4:56 pm


    I hope everyone realizes after the months I’ve been commenting here that I do not relate every strong feeling to gender or menstrual cycles. I’m done; I tried some humor; I failed. Not the first time; not the last, I’m sure.

  • kiar May 2, 2008, 5:19 pm

    umm, remember you are the token male! it is your job to get jumped pnfor the sins of you brothers!:wink:

  • Ray May 2, 2008, 5:36 pm

    Duh! Thanks, kiar, for reminding me. Punch away, ladies; punch away. 😎

  • Alison Moore Smith May 2, 2008, 5:56 pm

    OK, all joking aside, the old “time of the month” thing gets REALLY old, REALLY fast.

    In college I always said that I could be lying on the road–having just been sent to two-dimensions by a steamroller–and an onlooking guy would say, “Wow, it must be ‘that time of the month’!” because I was bothered.

    I’ll tell you why it bothers me. Because it MINIMIZES the points being made or discussed by women as “just so much estrogen” and implies non-thinking emotion.

    It’s really just ad hominem and no different than trying to argue a point by calling someone fat, ugly, stupid, or by making fun of their clothes, hair, and/or makeup.

    A couple of weeks ago Hillary Clinton got blasted for a remark about gender inequality, but it’s probably the only time in my life I’ve almost agreed with her. No, the inequality doesn’t ALWAYS play against women, but more often than not it puts them in a submissive position.

    As a woman who really dislikes the male-bashing that has come up in our culture in the past 20 years–and as someone who loves men generally (as well as select ones specifically)–I also find comments about women’s cycles tasteless and patronizing.

  • Lewis_Family May 2, 2008, 10:16 pm

    The only time the “time of the month” comments work are when I am telling one of my brothers to pop a midol. 🙂

  • nanacarol May 2, 2008, 11:12 pm

    So, what is my excuse since I don’t have a problem once a month anymore. And by the way, it sure cured what ailed me!

  • Michelle D May 3, 2008, 1:13 pm

    Davidson, truffles and red roses it is!

    Y’all are right; not every strong emotion is related to hormone fluctuations. But I, for one, have noticed that I AM more irritable and aggravated by things at a certain time of the month, to the point of being able to pinpoint my more likely escalation moments on the calendar. Rather than make me feel pinned down by a negative stereotype, it has helped me feel more in control of my roller coaster emotions and helped me NOT be so annoyed. Admitting that some (not all) of my bad moods coincided with my cycle gave me freedom!! Believe me, my kids in particular thank me for my awareness.

    I’m NOT saying this is true of ALL strong emotions or for ALL women. Just throwing another viewpoint out there… and saying that chocolate and flowers make me feel good no matter what time of the month it is!

  • Alison Moore Smith May 3, 2008, 1:43 pm

    I really don’t have mood swings that are cyclicly related. I know some people do. My objection is to the default ad hominem whenever a women expresses a strong opinion–the ASSUMPTION that she shouldn’t be taken seriously, that the ISSUE doesn’t need to be addressed, because, after all, it’s just raging hormones and will pass when she “calms down” and regains her sanity.

  • jennycherie May 3, 2008, 2:10 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore Smiththe ASSUMPTION that she shouldn’t be taken seriously, that the ISSUE doesn’t need to be addressed, because, after all, it’s just raging hormones and will pass when she “calms down” and regains her sanity.

    I totally agree BUT sometimes it might be an indicator that we are acting in a way that is contrary to our normal behavior.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 3, 2008, 3:57 pm

    I don’t mind self-evaluation or even evaluation from a loved one. But, as I said, it’s nothing but ad hominem to imply that an argument–even one that shows a change in behavior–should be dismissed and assumed to be hormonal and therefore invalid.

    EVEN IF THE CHANGE IN PERSEPCTIVE IS DUE TO HORMONES, it doesn’t negate the possible validity of the position and is irrelevant to a reasonable discussion of issues. The issues should be addressed logically as ISSUES without using a personal attack to PUT DOWN the person raising the issue.

    If Hitler makes a valid point, it’s still valid, even though he’s a mean, nasty murderer.

    Hitler: It’s 45 here today.

    Ad hominem arguer: Wow, you’re just a tyrant.

    Woman: My students have had difficulty focusing today.

    Ad hominem arguer: Wow, you must have PMS.

    Both are illogical, ad hominem arguments and are irrelevant.

    There are a very few times when one’s emotional state is relevant to a discussion, but by and large it’s just a female-bashing dismissal.

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