When my husband and I tried to put some limits on her attire, she countered with the fact that she goes to school every day, always makes curfew, doesn't use drugs, and consistently makes honor roll each quarter. We realized that we might push her to rebel if we did not permit her some freedom to express her individuality. However, it pains us to know that other kids (and their parents) are ridiculing the way she looks. Should we be more insistent on appropriate dress?
I understand how hard it is for you to get past your daughter's dramatic change in her physical appearance. But I would ask you to allow and encourage her to present herself in the world as she chooses, when it comes to her clothes, hairstyles, etc. In matters of dress, conformity to the majority does not confer maturity or goodness upon the conformist. Your daughter has chosen the lifestyle attire of a skater and is drawn to punk music because they give her an identity that she's comfortable with. You needn't tell her that you think she looks "her best" in her skater attire or pretend that you like her choice in alternative music. But I am asking you not to shame her because of these choices or show her your disappointment in her.
She needs to know that you care more about who she is, rather than what she wears. You know the goodness that your daughter possesses. Don't cave in to narrow-minded intolerance that surrounds your family. For some wisdom in helping your daughter be true to herself, read a book by a mom who went through what you are going through now, Beyond Looks and Labels: A Guide to Raising Unconventional Teens, by Katherine Murray. In addition to recounting her own story with her daughter, Murray also interviews many other parents who met this challenge. I believe that if you think about what's really important, you'll be able to act out of love in your daughter's best interests. Thanks for writing.