Thursday, March 24, 2011

How Your Daughter Dresses Matters

Added 10.13.16
Friends, this post has unexpectedly gotten a lot of attention lately. In fact, a little too much attention for my taste. Earlier this week several people (OK, maybe a few more than several) read this post and left comments that were a little hard to stomach. That's not what I'm about here, so I took the post down for a while.

After much deliberation, prayer, and consultation with people I love and respect, I decided to put the post back up and I have written a further clarification here. Please read this post too. It shares a bit more of my heart, five years later.

Yes, this is perhaps a little controversial and yes, you might have thoughts. But here's what I'm going to say about those thoughts--I will be very picky about the comments I choose to share here, if any. I will not share comments that are disparaging to me or anyone else in any way. I will not share comments that are inflammatory or unkind. 

We need a kinder world, a kinder place to be with one another. Let's be that here. Thanks!

Moms of daughters, listen up. There’s something you need to hear, and you may not like it. You may think it weird or prudish or snobby. Whatever. You need to hear this.

How your daughter dresses matters.

I’ve been passionate about this topic for a long time, since I have three daughters and we’ve had to cross this bridge a time or twenty over the years. At times it’s been a painful crossing, but in the end it’s been worth it to actually address the topic of appropriate dress and modesty.

Why does it matter?

Because how a girl dresses reflects an image of herself to the world, especially to boys.

Remember elementary school? It was easy to tell the tomboys from the girly-girls by the way they dressed. Tomboys wore t-shirts and sweats every day; girly-girls wore dresses and frilly tops.

Somewhere around junior high, though, another image gets added in there, and it’s not necessarily the image you might want of your junior high daughter. You know what I mean. Back in my day they were the “fast” girls. We might have called them worse.

Earlier this week, WSJ online asked a really important question: why would a mother encourage her daughter to dress like that? The article is graphic and disturbing in places and just plain sad, overall. But I think it’s important and worth a look, especially if you have daughters.

The author says she posed the question of why moms would let their daughters dress like that to a friend. Here’s the response she got:
"It isn't that different from when we were kids," she said. "The girls in the sexy clothes are the fast girls. They'll have Facebook pictures of themselves opening a bottle of Champagne, like Paris Hilton. And sometimes the moms and dads are out there contributing to it, shopping with them, throwing them parties at clubs. It's almost like they're saying, 'Look how hot my daughter is.'"
And then the author asks the most important question: “But why?”

Why indeed? Who really wants their daughter to act like Paris Hilton anyway? And who really wants their daughter to look “hot”?

Here’s what another mom said:
“We somehow survived our own teen and college years (except for those who didn't), and now, with the exception of some Mormons, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, scads of us don't know how to teach our own sons and daughters not to give away their bodies so readily.”
Can you hear the regret in her voice? They don’t know how to teach their sons and daughters to not give away their bodies? I guess they feel it’s a double-standard if they’ve done these things, but is it a double-standard to tell your kids you made a huge mistake and you don’t want them to replicate your mistakes?

Or is it helping and teaching your kids? Loving them so much that you don’t want them to feel the shame and despair you did? Having the hard conversation because you want something better for your daughter?

I loved this quote from the end of the article:
"We wouldn't dream of dropping our daughters off at college and saying: 'Study hard and floss every night, honey—and for heaven's sake, get laid!' But that's essentially what we're saying by allowing them to dress the way they do while they're still living under our own roofs."
Think about that. If, as mothers (or fathers!), we’re encouraging our daughters to dress inappropriately, that’s basically what we’re saying. At the very least we’re saying, “Here’s my daughter. She’s on display. Take a good, long, hard look at her.”

Ugh. The thought of anyone looking at any of my daughters inappropriately just makes my skin crawl.

I work with junior high girls at church, and here’s what I tell them: "Dressing a certain way attracts a certain kind of guy. I doubt very seriously that the kind of guy you want to attract is the kind of guy you’re dressing for when you dress like that. Besides, you are above that. You are better than that. You deserve better than that. So dress for the guy you deserve."

It’s tough as moms out there today. To encourage your daughter to dress modestly takes courage for both you and your daughter. Because she will be different—at school, with her friends, even (sadly) at church. She might get ridiculed. She might even get ostracized.

But isn’t she worth it?

Believe me, it’s tough to even find cute clothes to wear that are appropriate. Probably 80% of what you see in stores today is NOT appropriate, so you have to be creative and diligent to find clothes that honor your girl and won’t bring her down. But you can do it and it’s worth the effort.

And here’s why. Read this quote from a college guy who read the WSJ article and decided to leave a comment:
"As a male college student, I can say point blank, that most girls start to [sic] early and do too much. I go to a southern california school, so it might be a more extreme case, but still, the behavior referred to in this article is bad no matter how you spin it. We guys laugh at it and pat ourselves on the back for how many of these young girls we use and degrade, and how they don't seem to mind, but there's not a single one of us who doesn't know something is blatantly wrong with the picture."
This just makes me want to cry for our daughters who dress to attract that kind of guy. Even the guys know it’s wrong!

Moms, I just want to encourage you today to see your daughter as the precious gift she is and to help her see herself that way too. It is my prayer that we can encourage our daughters to reflect the image that God has of her—one that loves her completely and loves her enough to give up His life for her.

She’s that important. She’s that special. Let’s help her to reflect that image to the world.

Again, I would love it if you would read my follow-up post here.


  1. Awesome post! Thank you for being this voice. I've always dressed very modestly and have therefore dressed my daughter the same. She's only worn tank tops with sweaters and never bares her shoulders or tummy. However, we are getting to an age (8) where she is noticing more that she dresses a bit differently. So far she is more comfortable in her long Lands End t-shirts and shorts to her knees. I pray that she stays content with that and that God prepares me for any "battle" that might be coming. I firmly believe that how we dress reflects how we feel about ourselves. We can look good and "hot" to our husbands without baring all to the world.

  2. Great post! I read the WSJ article yesterday, and your post was a great follow-up. I have a 4 year old daughter, and even at her barely-out-of-toddlerhood age, it's hard to find clothes that are appropriate. My daughter is NOT and will never be "on display" for ogling eyes and lascivious thoughts. We're already starting to talk about why we can wear this but not that, and why it is important to be ladylike.

  3. I agree as well. I come from the other side of this. I was raised only wearing skirts and dresses and no sleeveless clothes. As an adult I made the choice to continue that way and teach my daughters to be modest and feminine. At times it is hard when you get looked at as strange; but I quickly saw the difference in how I was treated as a young women in the workplace vs. the ones in not so modest clothes. It was not only in how they looked at me, but it carried over into more gentlemanly actions from them. Since I attributed worth to myself and my body so did they.

  4. As the mother of three SONS, I can tell you that I appreciate this article. I'll add a couple of points, though.

    Dressing "hot" will attract the attention of all boys, not just the wrong kind of boys. Boys do notice; of course they do. But dressing this way attracts attention from an unwanted kind of boy AND attracts unwanted attention from the "right" kind of boy. Sometimes I want to say, "Please don't put my sons under that much pressure!!" And that's what I want to say to very nice girls who are exactly the kind of girls I want my boys to grow up and marry--but they've been misled into adopting a sexiness that should have no place in a young girl's world.

    Now, having said that, I'll also say that dressing so modestly so as to be completely removed from any semblance of fashion can end up being a bad thing, also. Boys notice this kind of dress, too, and they're not thinking "Oh, that's a nice modest girl; that's the kind of girl I want to be with." They're thinking more along the lines of "What's up with her? Why is she so hung up on her clothes? Is she that self-absorbed?"

    Indeed, I think both sexy dressing and shrouding are inappropriate for teenage girls, because both are forms of concentrating too much on self. There ARE some cute clothes that are also modest, and it's definitely worth the extra time to find them. Dressed in those, your daughters will be able to think of others instead of themselves all the time. And that lack of self-consciousness and security in her identity in Christ will be attractive to everyone!

  5. Wow! Thanks for these great comments already, friends.

    Richella, I SO appreciate your comment, and I think you are absolutely right. Dressing like a prude just gets the wrong kind of unwanted attention, too. Great point! Thanks for the time you took to bring your perspective.

  6. Oh, what a great post!!! I couldn't have said it better myself. And you know, dressing "nice"...modestly, doesn't HAVE to be extreme. I am ok with short skirts, spaghetti straps, cute skinny jeans...really I am. It doesn't all have to be prairie skirt-ish. But it just seems that MOST of the stuff out there is just SO tasteless. Don't girls KNOW how to dress anymore??? If you wear cute skinny jeans then wear a nice blousy top with flats too. Don't wear a skin tight tank top AND heels AND skinny jeans. That just looks skanky! If you wear a shorter skirt, don't make it so short you have to worry about your undies showing all the reasonable and comfortable. Like you said, be aware of the impression you are giving to others. It just seems SO common sense to me. My daughter had the chance to go to a cool Leadership Camp thing and they ahd a really sharp looking shop owner from in town give a fashion show with some high school girls as models and LET ME TELL YOU what an impression that made. These girls were all dressed SO cute, they were so pretty and confident and had the nicest MODEST outfits on. They talked about what I just did...HOW to dress to give the world the impression of WHO you are.
    Maybe we need to do that type of thing more in schools, because it seems like lots of parents are dropping the ball, and these girls, as usual are paying the price for parents inadequacy.

  7. Yes, my girls are that important. We will continue to teach them about dressing correctly. Thank you for ur thoughtful post.

  8. Great post. I am so fortunate that my older daughter is so modest and has been a wonderful example for her younger sister. I'm not sure that I had anything to do with it but I hope I had some influence.

    Plus, I also have 3 sons and even at an early age they seemed to have an innate sense of what was appropriate. Once our beloved neighbor girl who was often a babysitter for us was getting ready to leave for her prom. One of my very young boys said, "I don't like that dress on C. She looks like she is wearing only a slip."

    Boys want the girls they love to be respected and honored not looked at like property.

    It is hard to be a parent of boys or girls but, sadly, our culture has turned toward the extreme of putting our kids out there for distribution rather than as human souls.

    Remember the Jim & Linda B talks we got from youth group, Shelly? We need more people who are willing to be honest with our kids and tell them that they are worth it to be modest. Our pastor does that still. Maybe it is because he has 5 daughters!!!!

  9. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That last comment from the boy!!! SCREEEEEECH!

    Not only will my daughter never be allowed to dress provocatively while she's under my roof, I'm pretty sure she's never getting out from under my roof again.

    Honestly though, it comes as no surprise to me. That's how boys were when we were girls, too. My parents did a GREAT job of making me (strike)miserable(/strike) dress modestly even when I wanted to do otherwise. It WAS hard, but it WAS worth it.

    Great post, Mama.

  10. Remember those Laura Ashley dresses in your closet? It didn't get more modest than that.

  11. O.K., Mom, you got me. I am laughing so hard right now!

  12. 1. Glad to be Mom of Boys... hard battles... but

    2. Mommas of girls... I have a son... so, please have those conversations!

    3. I wish "those" girls could hear what my son says about them... and he gives me the "nice" version.

  13. Thanks for writing about this Shelly! We've been thinking and talking about this for a while now. I just read this book called Cinderella Ate My Daughter. It was really interesting. The author says that this problem with sexualizing our daugthers basically starts when they are two years old with the whole princess culture. A quick and interesting read!

  14. I love this & totally agree. I have a 6 year old daughter and my husband and I have already had these conversations & we're starting now! My daughter doesn't wear 2 piece swim suits, or short skirts, etc. Though it may be harmless at this age. But our thought is "how can we, all of the sudden, tell her at 13-you can't wear that anymore?" We've tried since she could dress herself to teach her modesty. She already will wear a tank top under certain tops so "we don't see her chest". By the grace of God, this will continue into womanhood!

  15. BRAVO, Shelly!!! Although I'm not a mom to daughters, my heart breaks when I see young girls/women dressed (or is it "undressed") immodestly. I want to tell them how much they are loved by their real "Daddy" and that they are precious. Because it's obvious that someone didn't tell them that. We've taught our son about modesty and now he averts his eyes when he sees something inappropriate on TV or real life. Once he gets past the "girls are yucky" stage, I pray the training kicks in and he treats girls with respect and kindness. Tough world for these little ones!!! Thanks for this post!

  16. Love this post! I am so passionate about this topic and between you and Sarah on Clover Lane, I belive talking about these things will have such an impact.

    I was so fired up yesterday, that I posted about what it actually means to be a parent with my own "vows":

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts in such a direct way:)

  17. I came by from The Finer Things. I was going to say the same thing as Richella about attracting the attention of all boys, not just the wrong boys, but she covered it well. Our girls frequently wear tank tops tucked in under their t-shirts or sweaters to make sure nothing shows if they bend over or lift their arms up, and we always make sure we have longer shorts, skirts, and dresses. Sometimes it's difficult to find them in the stores!

    We have two girls and two boys. Our girls are the oldest (twins-17) and our boys are 14 and 11. As our girls have been taught modest dress, our boys have been taught not to look. When we are in public and there is something inappropriate (either a picture, a store, or a person), they 'look at their shoes.' If it's on the tv at home everyone covers their eyes and looks away.

    I've refered to us as equal opportunity prudes.

  18. We've had the clothing conversations a million times at my house. More times with one daughter than the other. I won't buy the inappropriate clothes. One daughter bought something inappropriate when she out with a friend and her mom. Well the friend's mom bought it for my daughter. I showed a picture of it to my brother. He wanted to know who was dressing as a hooker for Halloween. I threw it out and told her I was not in the tramp raising business. She got the message.

    It's really a struggle whe your girls hit the junior sizes though. I do not know what these designers are thinking. Modesty is definitely NOT on their minds. I think I may have to learn to sew!

  19. Great post! I don't have a daughter, but us moms of boys need to remember to teach our boys how to properly treat young ladies.

    I linked to this blogpost on FB- lots of mom friends who will appreciate it too.

  20. very wonderful post and I couldn't agree more! Great writing! love your blog...stopping by from Diaper Diaries :)
    blessings, cat (

  21. It makes me mad when I see tiny little girls in tiny bikinis. How are they going to rebel when they are teenagers?
    I'd rather put my daughter in a one piece and then her teenage rebellion is a tankini or a modest bikini!

  22. Amazing post! I'm a mama. My oldest is in college and over the years he has come to us with struggles of lust (thanks to the girls around him and their choices to dress sexy)!
    He has shared the saddest stories with his dad and I. He sees so clearly how satan uses girls. Both to cause guys to stumble and to destroy them (the girl) as well.
    He refuses to give in so easily. :) Yay, God! Protect him!
    Then I have 2 high school girls. Both who are extremely beautiful and fashion savvy. Neither of them will stoop to the sexy trampy level. But, we never went that direction. They CHOOSE to look & dress modestly and feel sorry for the ones who don't.


    Parents: Fill up your child's love tank (both boy & girl)! If you don't...they will seek out those who will. FACT!!

  23. I'm so thankful to have grown up with an honest and godly father and two brothers, who would share their opinion about my outfit, solicited or not.

    I highly recommend the book, A Return to Modesty, by Wendy Shalit. She poignantly shares observations from her research and experience that shed light on some of the real motives and consequences of immodesty. I've read this book with my husband and worked through it with a small group of college women.

  24. Great post! We have 2 grown kids and now have 2 adopted daughters ages 11 and 7. I get upset that I can't find appropriate clothes easily. I plan on talking to both girls about dressing as the Lord would have them and hope and pray they listen. Just saw yesterday where A&F are putting out padded bikini tops for 8-year-olds - give me a break!

  25. I completely agree. I think we carry ourselves based on how we think we look and if we "cheapen" our looks we can't walk around with the confidence we should have. Appearances are very important, especially since kids don't seem to communicate verbally as much. They text, facebook, and pictures/images are used a lot. Sometimes the visual image/appearance is what they are "judged" by their peers.

  26. I am a disappointed that the moms of sons are blaming how the girls dress for what they are thinking.
    Shouldn't boys be taught dont judge a book by it's cover?
    Shouldnt we ALL be taught its not right to judge one's looks?
    They way some of you are commenting, it sounds like if there was a case of rape, you'd blame the woman based on how she was dressed.

  27. Our school has a uniform policy, but many girls hike their skirts up as soon as they are dropped off at school. One mom I know thinks her daughter is just so “innocent” and everything is okay because she has shorts on underneath that skirt. Meanwhile other kids at school, including boys, are wondering how on earth girls like this could ever bend down and pick up a dropped pencil or paper from the floor!

    It just speaks to me of the insecurity these girls suffer from and how sad it is that that they feel the need to expose themselves in this manner in order to get attention. And as you correctly pointed out, it’s going to be the wrong kind of attention. Then they will sit and cry and wonder why the boys just use them and don’t really like them…

    It’s a constant battle to help our daughters to value themselves and be ready to resist the pressure to conform. It is a delicate balance of self-respect and humility, which means they must be willing to be ridiculed by the other girls (who are often intimidated by their confidence and boldness) without becoming judgmental or prideful regarding their decision to reject the popular methods and trends of dressing and behavior. I’m so thankful for layering that helps make it possible to wear some of the stylish clothes in a modest appropriate way.

    Thanks for a great post on this topic!

  28. I don't know if you have seen this post but it is related:

    As a mom of boys, I THANK YOU. This topic matters to ME.

  29. Thanks for this! Catching up on all my blog reading. We are just starting this "new phase" of clothing with the 12 soon to be 13 yr old. She didn't like my veto's when we were recently shopping but was appeased by the items I did approve of. She doesn't quite get that a top can be inappropriate even with a tank underneath.
    I think this post and the comments - esp. those from moms w/ sons - will be helpful in some of our discussions so I'm printing it out.
    Our big challenge has been bra's! Finding an appropriate bra for a 12/13 yr old is like mining for gold. Even Target is getting a bit too "padded." :( We'll have more time to look around in the States soon so hope I can get some tips from friends.

  30. This was a great post! Some of the comments are a little disturbing, though.

    As an adult woman who was raised with very strict dress codes, I have some very specific thoughts on the subject -

    The mothers of sons saying "THANK YOU!" - To some extent, this is very frustrating to me. There will always be temptation, there will always be Paris Hilton and Playboy. It's not a young woman's job to guard your son's heart - it's his. It's a boy's fault every bit as much as girl's when he chooses to lust after her. Men/boys will lust fully clothed or not.

    To the mothers wanting to teach their daughters better - Bravo! But a word of caution: There is a very fine line between teaching a girl to be modest and teaching her to shroud herself and be ashamed. There's a point where it gets ridiculous - no sleeveless tops, to open toed shoes, etc. You can (and many do) breed resentment in their daughters. I grew up wearing ugly clothes that I hated, and my mother always looked "dumpy" to me. Please please please teach them how beautiful they are. Remind them every day. Remember when you're fighting with them (and you probably will be fighting with them), it's not a "win" for you unless you can help their heart to understand their value. If they come out feeling diminished wearing clothes they're ashamed of, you haven't "won". Being beautiful isn't just wearing good clothes - it's doing your nails, it's applying makeup properly, it's how you speak, how you move, weather or not you address everyone with a smile, and understanding that all so important difference between to spritzes of perfume and 15 spritzes of body spray.

    If I may, I encourage you - have open conversations, not always - "WHILE YOU'RE UNDER MY ROOF" which can be so, so damaging (they live their too, it's their home, shouldn't they feel safe?). All those PSA's that say "Talk to your kids, spend time with them" are correct - you will get so much further with a teenage daughter by talking to her, than by demanding blind obedience.

    So yes, Yes, YES! Keep fighting "the good fight!". Teach your daughters the beauty of being feminine, the awesome otherness that sets us apart from men, and that it's something that should be guarded and protected. Teach them that being modest doesn't always mean wearing dumpy homemade clothes or ALWAYS wearing a sweater like grandma. Don't teach them to be ashamed, Don't make them wear "grandma clothes", don't teach them that it's not boys fault when they choose to lust - because it *is*. They don't get a free out because they're men.

  31. I am continually disgusted by the portrayal of teens in TV and Movies. With the over-sexualization of girls in the media, it is no wonder that girls want to emulate that behavior.

    I have two teen sisters who refuse to follow that line of dressing, and struggle to find suitable clothing. I applaud their modesty which in no way is frumpy.

    I'm raising a 5 yo on my own and everyday I do my best to teach him respect for women. For example, I do not allow him to refer to women as 'hot' as he has heard from a few of his uncles. If he grows up to be respectful of women, I will know that I've done my job correctly.

  32. We have a huge pair of orange handled sewing shears in our house. I promised each of my girls when they were young that if I came across any article of clothing that wasn't modest I would chop it up into pieces. There would not be any opportunity to return the item for a refund. We then laid down very clear rules of what we think modest looks like. Now with my girls ages 17 and 15 when they go shopping they ask themselves if an item is modest enough. They laugh about the orange scissors but they like that we expect them to dress modest and amazingly their friends have recently started to dress more modest also. I just wish it was easier to buy clothing like a Sunday dress with sleeves, a modest neckline and a hemline at knee length off the rack. I don't really have time but I might have to go back to sewing their clothes and teaching them how to sew, too. Can anyone suggest modest places to shop online? I'd love to see an article with suggested links!

  33. if you'd honestly like to be taken seriously, don't ever use the phrase, "back in my day." i'm 18 and male and agree with whats being said, but from the perspective of someone my age, hearing someone say "when i was your age" or "back in my day" immediately shuts me down from listening because it points out that there's a disconnect between my day and your day. which then makes me believe that you have no idea what goes on in my life. again i commend what's being said. just thought i'd give a word from those who are seeming to be spoken to here.

  34. "We have a huge pair of orange handled sewing shears in our house. I promised each of my girls when they were young that if I came across any article of clothing that wasn't modest I would chop it up into pieces. There would not be any opportunity to return the item for a refund. "

    That sounds horrible. Absolutely horrible. I pray that I'll each my daughter to dress correctly, but also that I'll never have to resort to such things!

  35. I like your intentionality here, Shelly, of having important talks with your girls. (I have girls, too.)

    If we had boys, the talks would probably be a little different, but just as intentional, eh?


  36. Yes, yes, yes. I heard about this article on the radio a couple of days ago and thought how sad that girls today aren't taught that they're worth more than their outward appearance. With my daughters I do a 3 finger test, if the shirt dips further than my 3 fingers from the base of their neck, they either wear a shirt under it or it comes off. I want them to respect themselves and I want others to respect them as well.

  37. awesome post! If only these young girls could see how truly amazing they are, they would be much less concerned with beauty and body!

    I wrote a similar post a while ago:

    The more we write, the more that will hear and the better chance we have of saving the next generation!

  38. Yes exactly- to both the piece and to the commentary! Both our daughters AND our sons need to guard thier virtue and be guardians to other's hearts and health (mentally and physically) as well, as we are all our brother's keeper. Not one INSTEAD of the other- our daughters and sons equally responsible. And continually responsible. We hold the responsible for the car EVERY time they are out driving in it. Why would hey be responsible for their bodies less? Just because they are continually responsible makes them no less valuable (much more, actually) and no less crucial to them, and no less useful or dangerous under certain conditions. And yet we give far more attention to driving lessons than we do to consciously, continually teaching our young men AND young women to value and care for their own bodied, which is one of the main reasons they came here to earth in the first place. If we're covering those topics just in passing, we're not doing our jobs. -Tamar

  39. Great post! Thanks for saying this, Shelly!

    As a mom of both a boy and a girl, I've seen both sides. First, it's not a girls' fault that a guy looks at her. We need to remember that God made males way more visual than females. Basically, males are hard-wired to notice females no matter how they dress. And yes, males need to work hard to have self-control over their thoughts regarding women, but girls and women need to help out here, too. A female wearing revealing clothing is making it that much more difficult for a male. Why does she dress that way? Because of low self-esteem, because she doesn't (or didn't) get the right kind of parental attention and affection at home, and because she wants to be a follower of the crowd and the media.

    My heart aches for these girls and grown women who continually seek to dress down. Wouldn't it be revolutionary for women and girls in the media - movies, tv, and print - to dress modestly? What a positive wave of change that would bring.

  40. I read somewhere that if you see someone dressed as a cop on the street, you think they are a cop. Similarly, if someone is dressed in clothes too revealing, you would think that person is 'fast'. Naturally, we automatically assume people dress to reflect who they are... Kudos to you for writing this piece :) XOL

  41. What a great post! I have 3 daughters and hate to think of all the things they will face as they grow up. They're only 5, 3, and 18 mos. right now but I definitely want to teach them to respect their bodies. And I hope if I'm a good role model that my girls will learn by watching me.

  42. As an elementary school teacher, I couldn't agree more with your post! It is so disheartening to see young girls change from the childish dress in one grade level to more revealing, tight, and exposing clothing in even 4th or 5th grade! Clothing certainly does say a lot and influences actions if someone feels like if they are dressed a certain way, they should act a certain way.

    Thanks for bringing up an important topic!

  43. Loved your post.
    Very interesting times ahead. I’m a father of a 8 month old daughter.

  44. THAT'S the crux and what I teach my daughters too. They are worth it. They deserve be treated RIGHT. Not stared at and used. .

    I loved the last part of your article. SO TRUE!!

    They need to feel like they deserve it too. AND their fathers need to tell them regularly that they are beautiful.

  45. Love your post, however I agree with what Anonymous said...

    "I am a disappointed that the moms of sons are blaming how the girls dress for what they are thinking.
    Shouldn't boys be taught dont judge a book by it's cover?
    Shouldnt we ALL be taught its not right to judge one's looks?
    They way some of you are commenting, it sounds like if there was a case of rape, you'd blame the woman based on how she was dressed.
    Don't get me wrong my daughter is 15 and will only dress modestly, as she has no desire to show off her body. I hope and pray she always feels this way. Has I know girls, who once they were away at college decides mom and dad were crazy/way too strict and dressed anyway they want - "HOT" as "What mom/dad, don't know/see won't hurt them"

  46. I think to some extent, baring your shoulders or partial amounts of your thigh isn't that big of deal (unless there are religious reasons involved). I do think it's a bit extensive when you cut off your daughters clothing to where she can't express herself clearly. I think the big problem is when girls start wearing a see-through shirt with either a bra or bandeau top underneath or start showing a lot of middriff, also very short shorts that show off the bottom of the bottom. I am a 19 year old and for me, I was raised in a decently modest family, but I was given the right to dress my way in what I deem appropriate and honestly, I turned out pretty modest. For me, and a lot of girls my age, we want to look classy and sophisticated. And sometimes that means baring our shoulders but it can be done in a more respectable way. I think there are so many ends to the spectrum on this, and I have friends that dress less modestly than me, but that doesn't make them more loose. Clothing is a way to express yourself, but doesn't always make you who you are. Unfortunately, humans do judge someone by their looks, but that's not always how is really is. There's more than just black and white with this problem.

  47. My husband has seriously said that he doesn't want to go to the beach because it is like one big porno, and he doesn't want our kids to see that, and think it's okay. I guess we will be finding a more secluded beach!

  48. I'm sorry. How I or my friends dress is my business. Not my mother's or my father's or my husband's. Assuming that dress is advertising sexual availability is placing the responsibility on the women when it is both genders need to understand bodily autonomy.

    This 'she's dressing like a slut so she is one' is a false and fear mongering position that shows how terrified of sexuality and sensuality the writer is.

    So a burkha is modest enough?

  49. So Vryka, are you saying that your actions don't affect others? Because they do. We all make decisions in our lives based on how they will affect us, certainly, but also how they affect others. I doubt you are a total narcissist, not caring how others perceive you; therefore, deep down, you do understand that others' perceptions of us do matter.

    Just for the record, I have never, nor will I ever, wear a burkha. And neither have my daughters. :)

  50. It might not be considered fair, but it is about appearance and impression. Dress does not define a person, but it does make an impression. There are things that I would not wear and I wouldn't allow my 19 year old daughter to wear. She is 19, but I don't care if she is 59,that's not how I raised her and I wouldn't want her, my mom, my sister, or my nieces to appear to be something they are not. Rational thinking people know dressing like a slut doesn't make you one, but unfortunately there are narrow-minded twisted people out there they see it that way and you are putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Like I said, it may not be fair, and you don't have a burka to represent intelligence and confidence.

  51. Great post and great conversation. I am a loving father and my 16 year old daughter is smart, intelligent, witty, strong willed and beautiful. She has almost always made good decisions and has never given me a reason not to trust her. That said, I always find it hard to know when to be firm / put my foot down in situations where I am being insensitive because i don't know what goes through a young lady's mind and where to know when to pick my battles.

    That said, she has been mostly a conservative dresser however her wardrobe has been gradually less conservative / more revealing . . . until recently its gotten more revealing than i would like. She still dresses tastefully and isn't over the edge . . . but how do i reel it back in? I've approached the subject before and I get tears and yelling.

    I know there are lots of things going on in our lives that causes more demonstrative display of emotions with her (than i ever saw with my sons).

    Any advice on how a father can deal with his daughter?

  52. Why are we, as a society, in such a hurry to have our children grow up so fast? There’s plenty of time for them to be adults! There are many sites that sell age appropriate clothing for girls. This is one of our favorites. Cheers.

  53. Great read! This is a topic that I am passionate about as well. I have 4 biological daughters and many more in my churches youth group that I love like my own. It's heartbreaking to see them dress immodestly. Thank you for sharing this!

  54. This was wonderful. I am a Mom of two teenage boys. My 16 year old said he isn't interested in girls at school because they all dress trashy and that is NOT what he is looking for. I could be missing out of perfectly nice girls, but he is turned off by the way they dress. He is looking for someone more modest.

  55. I have a sewing shop. 5 years ago a girl and Dad came in to have her Homecoming dress altered. She wanted it shorter and tighter. I looked at Dad and said, "Bare with me here". I took hold of the dress and pinched up some material making it tighter. "I think we are going to keep your innocence and dignity a few more years. This dress is fine the way it is. You are beautiful and don't need to show more skin for people to see that." I had no idea that her mother had passed away less then a year before. Dad was doing what she wanted rather then what he felt correct. I had her as a client for every dance through her Senior Prom. Hugs to Mark and Ashley...

  56. While I agree that modesty would be a great thing for us to teach young girls, I also believe we should be teaching our young men that regardless of how a woman dresses she should be treated with the same respect you would show your mother or sister. For generations women have been told, 'don't go out alone at night' don't dress provocatively, don't do this and don't do that! Girls that don't dress provocatively get unwanted attention as much as the ones that do. Why do we as a society just shake our heads and say 'boys will be boys'? Morality and modesty should be taught to both sons and daughters. No means no, and respect for women should be a high priority for everyone.

    1. As a father of three boys (now adults), I did raise my boys to respect women and treat them as sisters. I've also taught many high school boys in church to do the same. I also taught them that, as Christians, we should always be aware of when our actions might be causing someone else to stumble in their Christian walk. We are responsible if our actions trip them up. Additionally, we are responsible for teaching our children how to safely live in a not-so-safe world. Part of that education is teaching them to avoid danger. As a grown man, I do not go into certain parts of my city at night. Even though I have the right to drive or walk on public streets and sidewalks there, I would be foolish to do so because it's dangerous! In a perfect world, a young woman should be able to dress however she wants, "hang out" at a boy's apartment until 3 AM, and still be completely safe. However, in the real world, she would be foolish to do so because she's relying on that boy (or one of his friends) to treat her respectfully. I agree with you that men SHOULD treat women right regardless of where they are or how they are dressed, but, unfortunately, you shouldn't trust that they will. In this world, the Bible tells us that people are not basically good...they are bad, and we must remember that. Therefore, we should take every reasonable precaution to ensure their safety! Modest dress is just one of those reasonable precautions.

  57. I thought this post was so wonderful and shared it on my facebook for all my friends , most of us being first time moms.It was such a bummer when it was taken down and i was hopelessly trying to explain to them what was in the article.
    Im writing all the way from Pakistan and your message resonates loud and clear across multiple cultures and religions. Thank you for that.

  58. Thank you for publishing back this piece of thoughts. I found it very relevant even when we lived miles apart and came from a very different background and live in a very different society.

    Again, thank you for posting what has been our worried, being our clear voice when we lost ours.

  59. A great post which I will share the other moms I know. Thank you for writing about this. Here in South Africa all the big retailer stores have a girl's clothing department aged 6 to 14 years. I have always had a problem with that. I don't believe that a 6 year old should be wearing what a 14 year old wears. Worse than that I find most of the clothing inappropriate for 14 year olds! My daughter has just turned 6 and I believe I am lucky for 2 reasons: she is a complete tomboy (although having been one myself I know that comes with it's own challenges) and I can sew (I have a small sewing business which I run from home) - so far clothing has not been an issue with her and long may that last!! and I can see myself making her clothes from now on as I can see it is going to be hard to find appropriate clothing in her age group. I believe in wearing clothing that I feel good in and that is practical - I can only hope that this rubs off on my daughter!

  60. I don't have children yet, but it is difficult to find clothes that I am comfortable with in stores. At the moment I don't have to worry too much because I'm in the military and wear a uniform every day, but one of the things I dread is coming up with a new wardrobe.

  61. "So dress for the guy you deserve"

    That hit me like a brick. I want to dress for the guy I deserve. The Christian man I deserve and want with all my heart. Pray for me. Thank you for posting this. I needed it.

  62. While I totally agree, I think that we should get away from framing the conversation as "girls dressing this way FOR male attention." I think we need to teach girls to love and respect themselves for THEMSELVES. Not for some reaction from some "other." Teach them to act as agents for themselves not as objects to be acted upon. It is only when a person has that sense of self worth that they are able be in healthy relationships and reject unhealthy relationships.