Fashionable and Modest? Absolutely!
Today’s teen girls look to many places to pattern their sense of self, but none more consistently than magazines such as Teen People, YM, Teen, Seventeen, Jump, and CosmoGirl. Surveys reveal that an amazing 77 percent of girls ages eleven to eighteen read fashion and beauty magazines.
Christian girls are not excluded from this transfixed demographic. They tend to view these magazines as often as other girls. Exactly what are they reading? Well, the parents of every teen girl should look for themselves. Many have horoscope readings and other articles that reflect cosmic humanism and new age philosophy. Most have sexually explicit articles, often including teens’ real-life experiences.
Girls also take their fashion cues from teen magazines, which often promote clothing that is, in a word, inappropriate. What alternative should a parent offer? Certainly, to avoid the issue of fashion altogether is fruitless and not in line with Scripture. Beauty and fashion aren’t condemned by the Bible. On the contrary, beauty seems to be nearly synonymous with God’s glory. Beauty is one of God’s greatest expressions. It seems only fitting that those created in His image would strive to express themselves in beauty.
The catch is learning to express beauty through the lens of a biblical worldview, which certainly includes modesty. After putting those racy teen magazines aside, girls need to be able to look to positive role models who dress modestly but with flair.
Since youth pastors usually aren’t that into fashion, it’s a good idea to assign some godly and fashionable twenty-something women to be your church’s Bod Squad. Have them host an annual fashion show that showcases modest fashion items and warns against the newest immodest trends. Have a Shop ‘Til You Drop Night at the mall, where each girl is challenged to find something trendy but modest. Most important, make sure the young women on the Bod Squad invest time into your teens so that when one of them is presenting herself inappropriately, she can be lovingly and effectively counseled.
Teen girls will not be the only ones to benefit. Teen boys struggle with the contradiction of girls who claim purity but whose attire sends a different message. My husband asked a group of teenage boys what was the number one thing that caused them to be sexually tempted. One boy answered, “The way girls dress in church.” Heads across the room nodded in agreement. Another said, “Church is supposed to be a place where you don’t have to face temptation. But you walk in, and Bam! There it is. How do you avoid that?”
Fashion is one of the top issues for teen girls and one of the facets of the larger discussion about sexual purity. Teaching girls to look at their attire through God’s perspective is one of those places where the rubber meets the road in both parenting and youth ministry.
Dannah Gresh and her husband, Bob, are the founders of Pure Freedom, an international ministry that equips teens to live a life of purity. For Dannah’s “Truth or Bare” fashion test and other great resources, visit purefreedom.org.