Not having a teenage daughter of my own, I can't speak from experience. But after listening to Tuesday night's discussion between the Garfield County Fair Board, members of this year's fair royalty and their parents, if my daughter was in that situation, I don't think I'd want to tell her what she can or can't wear.
But the fair board basically did, after listening to their arguments that a recent email from former royalty coordinator Lyndsay Jo Smith that advised them against wearing jewelry with "religious connotations" at a Denver event restricted the girls' freedom of expression.
Fair board members repeatedly said that was not the intent, they just wanted the girls to "tone down" the bling. Apparently, it's the fashion to wear crosses, and a lot of them, at rodeos and such. That's fine, the board said, as long as it's not too much.
But what is too much in the eyes of the adult fair board members and what's too much in the eyes of young teenage girls are very different.
Not that I'm saying things are headed for more controversy. After more than an hour of discussion, it seemed the board, the girls, their parents and County Manager Andrew Gorgey agreed to work things out.
But since Smith resigned, a move the board did not know before Tuesday night, the royalty program is leaderless for the time being. So they banned the girls from attending any official functions outside the county until a new coordinator is found.
Reasonable move. You can't send teenagers, who tend to be more impulsive than us more "experienced" adults, out on their own with their peers. I got into a few scrapes myself at that age.
And everyone agreed miscommunication happened all around concerning what the girls could or shouldn't wear. Still, anytime you tell someone they can't do something that has a hint of "religious connotations," you raise eyebrows and even voices.
And that is a good thing, too. Society needs those who keep a close eye on government. The framers of the U.S. Constitution certainly had that in mind when they wrote that famous and valuable document.
The fact that the watchers, in this case, were young women is inspiring, even with the help of their parents. This has the chance of turning into a great learning experience, perhaps not just for the royalty members.
The fair board and staff should take a close look at what happened and strive to send a clearer message in future situations. Think it through a little more, make sure your message is what you mean to say.
And hopefully, the board won't have to try to tell a teenage girl to do something she might not want to hear.
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.