The models are sashaying down the runway, decked out in the latest fashions. One sports a bright cotton dress paired with a sweater. Another wears a flowered jacket over a pink pleated shirt. Yet another is modeling a green plaid dress with a matching jacket. The clothes are stylish and the models pretty.
But there's a big difference between this fashion show and the kind you would see in Paris or Milan. For one thing, the models are smiling, and they look healthy—no "heroin chic" here. For another, the clothing is modest.
It's the latest form of rebellion—and as the father of three daughters, I can tell you I welcome this kind of rebellion.
Fashion shows like this are put on by a faith-based group called Pure Fashion. The group encourages teen girls to "live, act, and dress in accordance with their dignity as children of God." The shows feature ordinary high school girls modeling clothes that are trendy and tasteful.
Thousands of teen girls are flocking to Pure Fashion shows all over the country, which often feature high-quality entertainment as well as clothing. For example, in Atlanta last year, the program featured Grammy-winning songwriter David Foster.
And it's not just Christian girls who attend. Unchurched teens are also tired of clothes designed to make them look—and feel—like "women of the night."
The problem of immodest fashion is serious. To even describe what's out there is difficult on the radio. But I'll give you a challenge: The next time you are at the mall, visit some of the stores that are selling clothing for pre-teen girls. What you will see will shock you and make you madder than a hornet!
But as Wendy Shalit notes in her new book, Girls Gone Mild, there is some good news. Young women today are fighting back. Why? Because they "have real goals to achieve," Shalit says. She points out that girls "don't want to be sidetracked by pressure to present themselves as something they are not."
Indeed, young girls have successfully pressured retail giants like Nordstrom and Abercrombie and Fitch to offer less provocative clothing.
Older feminists such as Katha Pollitt have mocked Shalit and see the modesty movement as being naïve and even repressive. But younger women say they find modest clothing not repressive, but liberating. They are realizing that modest clothing forces people to focus, not on their bodies, but on their brains and personalities.
These young women, whether they realize it or not, are groping their way back to a spiritual truth. As Pure Fashion notes on its website, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to humans. Teaching modesty to children awakens them to respect for the human person. Modest attire encourages purity of heart, not only for the young women who embrace it, but also for the men with whom they hang out.
I must say, I am thrilled to see Christians stepping up to find solid solutions to this problem—and not just complaining about it.
Why not find out if there is a Pure Fashion show in your town? If there isn't one, organize one.
We need to help our fashion-conscious daughters to view their bodies as sacred space—and to realize that they can be fashionable without sacrificing their modesty and dignity.
From BreakPoint®, August 30, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship