For the past several weeks, my social media pages have been plastered with pictures that my friends across the country are posting of their children at Homecoming. These are friends from California to Georgia, from large schools to small schools - public and private, alike. Something about these photos has struck a chord, and I have found myself giving a lot of thought to modern fashion trends for youth today.
Admittedly, my first thought when I saw the pictures was, “How ever did they manage to sit down in that?” My second thought was “Didn’t their parents see them leave the house?” I started wondering….Am I just really old-fashioned?
When I asked some of my students what they thought of certain dresses, which I considered to be more “appropriate,” the overwhelming response was “that’s so babyish.” That really got me thinking. Why do young girls want to look so much older than they actually are? What’s wrong with being young? When I was a teenager I barely knew how to apply mascara, and kids today could give you a thirty-minute tutorial on contouring. Why do they think their faces need contouring anyway? These girls are beautiful just the way they are!
We could split hairs over “inches above the knee,” but I fear we have a much more important issue to consider. Why do young teenagers today want to look “sexy?” What kind of attention is it that they are seeking? That hits my heart a lot harder than skirt lengths. It’s not about hindering individuality or enforcing modesty. It’s about letting our young women know that their worth is so much greater! It’s about dignity and self-respect. Why settle for “sexy” when you can strive for “stunning.”
I want young girls today to feel confident, strong, and empowered. I want them to know that they are beautiful and loved and worthy. That their voice should speak louder than their clothes. So, how can we do this when they are constantly bombarded by unrealistic images of “beauty” in our society today. How did innocence become countercultural? The battle is real, and as both a mother and an educator, I’m right there with you! Our daughters deserve better than this.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve had many great conversations about this with both adults and teenagers. The dialogue has started, and it is up to us to steer the conversation. So, where do we go from here?
Talk to your daughters. Ask them WHY they like the clothes that they do. Tell them to list the specific adjectives. Challenge them to put it in words. These are smart, articulate kids we’ve got here – don’t be afraid to go there with them!
Don’t buy clothes that don’t align with your family values. In many cases, the kids are not the ones making their own purchases. Often as parents, we need to make decisions that our children are not going to agree with.
Surround yourselves with friends who are like-minded. Strength in numbers.
Identify role models in your community that young girls can relate to. A teacher, a coach, a youth minister from church. Ask your daughters who’s style they admire, and why?
So maybe I am, in fact, “old-fashioned.” But maybe that’s what our culture needs right now? I’m not suggesting that teenagers dress like me. That would be weird. I’m also not suggesting that they all look the same. Our clothes and makeup can be beautiful instruments of self-expression. I only encourage the girls to consider which “self” they want to express.
Amy Bowman is a Catholic wife and mother of five. She has taught and mentored teenagers for the past fifteen years in a variety of settings, and she is currently serving as the Dean of Academics at Pinecrest Academy High School.
Pinecrest Academy is a private PreK-12 Catholic school located in Cumming, South Forsyth, just minutes from Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Suwanee. We serve families of all faiths seeking a Christian education for their children. To learn more about our unique educational philosophy, visit our Welcome page.
SEMPER ALTIUS = ALWAYS HIGHER
The mission of Pinecrest Academy is reflected in the word Integer, which is Latin for “whole,” or “entire,” and reflects our goal of forming the whole child as an authentic “Person in Christ.” The school motto Semper Altius, means “Always Higher,” and challenges our students, parents, staff and faculty to strive for excellence in all areas of Integral Formation® - intellectual, spiritual, human and apostolic.