I used to wander into malls, clothing stores, and movie theaters and see teenagers I thought were inappropriately clothed. Maybe their shorts were too tiny, their dress was too short, or they seemed to be flaunting all kinds of body parts I thought should be covered up.
I know I don’t have a poker face and I’m sure they could sense my judgement. It wasn’t until my oldest daughter became a teenager that I began to view those young girls in a different way. I began to see them as little girls wanting to grow up. Needing and desiring attention. Looking for approval. Thinking that a young boy and some sort of a relationship with him would validate them. I began to view them with a lot more heart than just the skin they were showing.
When I had little girls, I thought I knew everything about teaching them how to dress. I bought them appropriate clothing. I talked about valuing their bodies and told them consistently how beautifully God had created them. I taught them the importance of saving their virginity for marriage and I was (I think) a pretty good example of a woman who clothes herself appropriately and has a good body image. My girls have always been athletes and have run, biked, and swam their way to physical fitness every day of their life. All that combined with tons of prayer and Bible memory verses should equate to strong young women confident in their physicality, right?
If it was only that simple. *hear sarcasm*
I have learned the hard way that no matter how hard we try as parents to build them up, no matter how we teach, train and preach…growing up a little girl into womanhood is still quite the challenge.
A young girl is ALWAYS struggling with body image and self-confidence. She is ALWAYS conscious of her shape and how she should be cover herself and maintain femininity. It’s a struggle to find a place among peers. It’s more than difficult to just BE without becoming what you dress or even wondering how to dress or who you are when you don’t really quite have that figured out at 14, 15, 16, 18 years old…
[bctt tweet=”A young girl is ALWAYS struggling with body image and self-confidence.”]
And I will guarantee you RIGHT NOW that no matter how carefully you parent, in this dance to becoming full-grown, your daughter WILL dress in something too revealing. She will wear something that steps over the line. She will try new looks and new clothes and new ways to do her makeup and the wise mom and dad will think carefully and speak gently. You have to realize that just like learning anything — they won’t get it right all the time.
And can I please beg of you, every one of my readers, can I please plead with you to hear me?
The next time we want to pounce on some young girl about her clothing at church, in your daughter’s peer group, or at school– can we just stop the frustration and anger, the wild desire we have to protect her even from herself…and remember what it was like when we were 14, 15, 16, 17? Let’s temper our words with realizing that likely whatever we say will play over and over in her head for weeks and months to come. Whatever tone we use to address her will be the way she begins to visualize herself. Whatever baggage WE may carry from dressing inappropriately as a child or whatever harm we are desperately trying to prevent from being done to her, we MUST remember that her heart and her self image are on the line. She can sense our judgement faster than she will receive our instruction if we don’t approach the situation with the right attitude.
[bctt tweet=”We MUST remember that her heart and her self image are on the line. “]
It is not our job to be the Christian Joan Rivers clothing police. It is our job to shepherd their hearts and at the end of the day they should leave any conversation with us having THIS playing in their heads:
“You’re an amazing young woman. You’re worth more than you could ever imagine. Your beauty, inside and outside is to be clothed in dignity. You are not common. You are a daughter of the Most High King. And I respect you and everything about the incredible work I know God is doing in your life.”
[bctt tweet=”Your beauty, inside and outside is to be clothed in dignity. You are a daughter of the Most High King.”]
The hurtful, accusatory, insinuating, condemning, and downright humiliating discussion of whether or not what a young woman is wearing is appropriate is secondary to just about everything else. The more she grows in Christ, the more secure she becomes in her identity as a Believer, the more she will begin to sense the leading of the Holy Spirit in her clothing choices. But if we continue to poke, pick, and prod her for her every decision in what she wears…her make up…her friends…we can be sure of this…she won’t hear or see Jesus in her church surroundings and she’ll run right out the church doors.