Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beauty boundaries for teen fashion

Has anyone noticed that Halloween costumes seem to be getting (ahem) sluttier?  Our local party stores are determined to offer young girls miniature trashy nurse costumes, dead zombie cheerleaders with skimpy skirts, and sexy cats.  I guess it shouldn't come as a shock given that clothing lines for teenage girls have deteriorated.  The message of feminine fashion is that skinny is in, and less (much less) is more. I'd like to share some "modesty rules" for girls I learned at a recent workshop, hopefully they will help you in your next mall trip with your daughters.
Last weekend our church coordinated a fashion show with featured speaker Leah Darrow, of America's Next Top Model fame.  Her presentation was directed toward eighth and ninth grade girls and their mothers.  Darrow was energetic, passionate, and inspiring as she informed girls that what they wear matters.  She described the model lifestyle of wearing what others chose for her and trying not to think about it. Darrow shared about being led further and further away from her upbringing and moral compass in order to please people who didn't really care about her.  When she had the Epiphany that her lifestyle was destructive to her self esteem, Darrow walked off a photo shoot because she couldn't stop crying.  Who do you think she called?

Her parents. No one else in the high fashion, glitzy, glamorous life she was leading would have answered the phone. Darrow was a credible account of the difference between peer feedback and parental feedback.  The girls were listening when she then offered a no nonsense approach to clothing selection.  She uses four fingers down from her collar bone to evaluate necklines, and four fingers up to define a limit for shortness on skirts, dresses, and shorts.  She encouraged the girls to look in a full length mirror to make certain that heels have not hiked up their hemline and to add a final touch the impression of beauty they are wanting to portray.

The fashion show supported her message completely.  The high school models, all shapes and sizes, demonstrated the modesty rules using clothing from a variety of local stores.  None of the models looked "matronly," all were age appropriate and adorable.  The evidence was clear: Clothing does not have to be a "costume."

Fashion in 2011 is being led by marketing, fueled by peer pressure, and funded by parents. Parents and teens do not have to lower their standards to dress cute in today's culture.  It might take awhile longer to shop, but helping your teen identify a style that flatters them and sends a positive message about self esteem is worth it.  Remember to resist buying anything that makes either of you uncomfortable  or you will be inviting a power struggle every morning. 

You (and your daughters) have the power to influence our fashion culture one purchase at a time. 


  1. She sounds inspiring, and the message is something many young women need to hear. Plus, you had a fashion show on top of it all? What a great girl's day out!

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