Your Daughter’s Wardrobe: A Battle Worth Fighting?

Written by Dannah Gresh

As my friend and I shared coffee in her kitchen she lamented over the girl her young son was dating.

“She’s wearing a belly ring!” she cried.

“Sometimes girls don’t realize what they’re doing,” I suggested.

“She knows what she’s doing! I asked her what the motivation was in having a belly ring,” said this frightened mother a look of sadness on her face.

The girl’s answer?

“It makes me feel more sexy!”

While I do believe that some girls simply follow today’s fashion standards with much naivete, I recognize that many of them are very aware of the power they wield. What’s a mother to do?

The statistics of social science tell us that the battle is one we must fight. The Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MISH) has listed five factors that place a girl at the highest risk of sexual activity at any early age. A girl who “looks older than she actually is” is one of the factors listed. These girls are made to look older by fashion and make-up, most of which hints at or blatantly advertises her sexuality. There is a strong case to argue that the end result of today’s immodest fashion is sexual promiscuity. I don’t know about you, but I want to remove anything that places my sweet daughter at risk of having her heart broken by sexual sin. But how does a mom address it effectively?

1. Start earlier than you would expect

More critical research tells us that the most formative years for a young woman’s sexual values are between the ages of – hold on to your seats, Mom – 8 and 10. When age-appropriate guidelines and truths in the areas of sexuality, purity and modesty are established during these years, they tend to stick! Talk to your daughter about modesty now rather than after she’s fully developed – she is more likely to embrace your views. Talking to her before she develops also allows you to avoid making her feel like her new curves are “bad.” The issue is not her body. God made it and it is beautiful. The issue is the clothes.

2. Celebrate her beauty

As your daughter nears menstruation between the ages of 9 and 12, it’s important to give her confidence in the beauty of her body. Proverbs 5:17,18 says, “Rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe a graceful deer. May her breasts satisfy you always. May you be ever intoxicated by her sex.” I changed the italicized words to better reflect the Hebrew meaning of the passage. The God of the universe looks down at woman and actually encourages man to be fully intoxicated by her sexuality. Wow! God definitely is not shy in celebrating the curves or the purpose of them – to intoxicate one man.

As our daughters begin to develop these curves, they often feel self-conscious and struggle with issues of self-esteem. Not talking about the changes at all is as bad as making her feel the curves are bad. Talk freely about the precious changes in her body You might consider celebrating them in one of these ways:

  • Take her to a day spa and treat her and yourself of a “women’s” day of pampering.
  • Create your own home spa complete with bubble bath, sparkling grape juice, music and a scented candle.
  • Invite key women in her life – Grandma, aunts, Sunday school teacher – over for a lemonade or cozy cocoa”toast” to her womanhood.

Each of these should be an opportunity to openly discuss the beauty of the female body and to present some precious Scripture to show her how very much God celebrates her beauty. (Try Psalm 45, a wedding Psalm, or Psalm 139:13-16.)

3. Call modesty what it is

According to the Hebrew and Greek definitions, sin is missing God’s intended purpose for our lives. Look back at that verse from Proverbs. God’s purpose for a woman sexually is to “intoxicate” one man with her sensual beauty. A woman or young girl is absolutely worthy of the stares that may come her way, but God says that the unique characteristics of her sensual beauty are to be treasured secrets – secrets to keep for one man. When a girl dresses immodestly, she creates arousal in many men. That is missing the purpose of God’s carefully crafted masterpiece. Is it just fashion? No. Immodesty is sin. And we must call it that when we talk to our daughters.

4. Offer positive solutions

Don’t get caught up in all the “no-no’s” of fashion. Give your daughter some fun and practical ideas for dressing. For example, the trend now is low-riders, but these have to be worn just right or they can be very immodest. Encourage your daughter to search for an extra long tank top (easily purchased in the guy’s department) to tuck deeply into her loosely fitting low-riders. She can get an even better look by topping it off with a trendy over shirt.

Does she like the look of the short-cropped top? Be firm. That’s not going to work for your family. But you can get a similar look with layers. Start with a long tank top firmly tucked into her pants. The key to this is that the tank should be loose fitting. Then, add one or two shorter shirts on top of this.

Is she struggling with the length of her shorts or skirts? Have her sit Indian style across from a mirror. This helps her to gain an understanding of what everyone else might see if she wears this outfit. It also helps her to internalize her decision about a certain outfit, keeping the focus positive as you affirm her decision.

The bottom line is that modesty is a positive choice and when it’s presented early and with a positive focus, it’s embraced much more easily.

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