Fashion has been hijacked by our hypersexualized woke culture. The extent of this hit me last summer when I saw two young women near our house.
The first one was walking her dog with her friend. She was only wearing thong panties. The second was standing at the stop. She was a very young, cute, fresh-faced girl wearing red and black panties attached to various garters, stockings, and high heels. And this was on the same day in a suburban neighborhood!
When autumn came, there was only a little less skin; it was common to see young women in the mall wearing lace shirts in which about six inches of skin was exposed from neck to navel, allowing passers-by to see half of their breasts. This problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
Three of our daughters have grown into young women (with the others close behind). We didn’t have outfits like the above, but there were different forms of “expression” that expressed too much in a way. My husband and I decided to sit down with the oldest three and discuss our house rules and the reasons behind them.
Before we did that, I looked around the internet hoping to find some conversation ideas. There was a lot less than I expected, so I sat down and wrote some ideas about the message we wanted to get across to the girls. (And soon I will take these basic ideas and talk to my younger ones as well.)
We told the girls that we wanted to have a little date with them. I printed out my thoughts (below) and started with these ideas. We let the girls talk, of course, as this was meant to be a conversation, but it was helpful to have our thoughts on paper in front of us for those times when the conversation went off course. Another thing we did was pick a time when they were all relatively happy and quite open to conversation.
This is the message we gave them:
We’re so glad you can tell us about things that are important to you, and we really want to be able to talk about things even if we don’t agree. It’s okay to disagree with some things. We can still be madly in love.
That’s why we think it’s important to dress in a way that respects our bodies. (You can also frame this as a question to allow for more dialogue and insight into what they’re thinking.) Here are our thoughts:
- It’s good to feel comfortable in our own bodies, even in a bathing suit. There is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not about shame! You are such beautiful young women. You have great figures and it’s good to dress in a way that accentuates your figure. We are not suggesting that anyone should only wear ugly, baggy clothes. We want you to look good!
- We’re not going to talk about the fact that men between the ages of 10 and 80 have an actual physical reaction to revealing clothing because it reminds them of their genitalia underneath. That is not the focus of this conversation. (You can skip this part or say it quickly and don’t dwell on it. Teenage girls hate the argument that they should dress in a way that doesn’t provoke men. I’m sure they’d say, “Men just have to control the eyes and, frankly, that’s not the main reason to dress decently.)
- The fact is that each of you has tremendous value. You are actually priceless treasures! Your personalities are so unique. You are smart and talented and destined to do great things in this world. Your clothing and behavior reflect this reality.
- Some parts of our bodies are private because they are related to sexual love (which is a beautiful gift that humans have), but also a very private act that is only beautiful and true in the context of marriage.
- It’s hard to remember this because we’re bombarded with messages through shows, commercials, and media that tell us it’s okay to show off our bodies. But what would you think of a woman walking down the street wearing a see-through top and no bra, or a bikini bottom on the beach? Why is this wrong but showing cleavage is OK?
- Although one is not naked in a bikini – or a tight, short top, etc. – this way of dressing draws attention to these sexual areas. Then “the look” becomes about that, not about being comfortable in your skin. And keep in mind that clothing looks different on different body types. A two-piece swimsuit can be even more modest than some one-piece swimsuits. It depends on the cut and the person’s body type. So we’re not talking about rules like skirts being so many inches above the knee, etc. We are all individual and this should be assessed individually.
- We need to rebel against this culture we live in that pushes sex as a recreational activity, dehumanizing people and treating them as objects to be used. You girls are leaders, not followers! (If you have budding feminists, this is a good point to talk about more.)
- You have enormous value – you are an incredible, priceless treasure.
So in our house:
- We wear clothes that look good, flatter our bodies, and are respectful of our bodies.
- This means no cleavage or a lot of midriff showing (especially in church or more formal occasions) or tight everything (leggings are OK, with a matching shirt)
- Exercise clothes are suitable for exercise. If you are alone in the room, you can wear different clothes than if you go to the gym.
We love you guys so much. You may not understand us or agree with us, but we are telling you these things to help you grow into mature, happy, confident young women. We do this with your best interests in mind. What do you think?
(Then discuss; hopefully amicably.)
This all looks very good on paper, of course. In real life, conversations rarely go as planned, so my husband and I went into this fully expecting some pushback. And yes, there was, but the conversation went pretty well. And very importantly, we expressed to our daughters how we felt, trying to do it with love and giving them the main reasons why we respect our bodies with the way we dress.
After the conversation is over, we aim to continue to give them lots of love and keep the lines of communication open. Most likely, one of the girls will struggle with some of these ideas. They are young and influenced by our culture and it is difficult for them to understand. So we’ll have to remind them again. And again. We will have to keep our word on the consequences as well.
In her book, Thriving and Surviving in Raising Thirteen,” Ann Perot describes one occasion when her daughter came out of her room wearing a dress that was too short, telling her mother that her standards were too high. Perrotte asked her if she would like to set the bar high or low. The girl surrendered. She wanted the bar high.
Perrottet says, “Believe it or not, children actually want rules, standards, and boundaries; they know they need them and they want direction – they need an anchor to pull them back if or when needed.
I have to be honest. Not all of my daughters would react like Perrotet’s. But whether they realize this now or in the future is irrelevant. In the not so distant future they will mature and, if we have been both kind and firm, they will understand and be grateful.
One final thought: In many ways, women are stronger than men. What women do, men follow (think Adam and Eve). This argument has been made by intellectuals such as Alice von Hildebrand, Gertrude von Le Fort, and more recently Cary Gress.
Our power can be destructive or a force for good. It may seem like a small thing, but the way women dress affects others. This is not simply a disciplining matter for parents. There are great cultural ramifications. Teenagers want to rebel and protest against oppression. In this area, let us encourage this.
This article was originally published on MercatorNet.