"Let's just call them what they are...denim underwear. Any time you have to constantly pull them down to cover your butt - they're not shorts."
That was me. In the car with my husband. In one of our many discussions of fashion, modesty, and young women. The topic is one so much discussed because we have daughters. Dancer and Diva are beautiful. Aside from their physical appearance, we do our best to raise them to be beautiful on the inside. Godly young women who understand their worth. And their worth is so much more than the amount of skin they expose.
"You are only as beautiful as you act." I sometimes tell them. And then I tack on Proverbs 20:11.
Even a child is known by her actions, by whether her conduct is pure and right.
Their conduct includes the clothing choices they make. In this, more than any other realm, my husband has helped me fight the good fight. He has complimented my modest clothing and subtle makeup. He makes a point to compliment the girls on their appearance, especially their neatness and modesty. He doesn't spend his time ogling women in parking lots, and never makes crude jokes about women (who are, of course, someone's daughter!).
In fact, when confronted with a young woman who exposes more than she should, he looks away. As he told a co-worker once, "Man...I have daughters."
So here's my plan:
1. Make sure my daughters understand their worth to God. He cares for them as a Father, and woos them as would a Groom. They never have to worry that they are alone. And they should always know that they are loved. Incredibly valued.
2. Give them a purpose. Sometimes we doubt our beauty as women because of what the world tells us. We let them define beauty. But the purpose God gives us frees us from those lies. Because our bodies will age. Gray hairs and wrinkles shouldn't be a cause for panic - it's the way our bodies are designed (don't worry, I'm not condemning a nice dye job to cover the gray). Proverbs 31:30
Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
3. Tie their outer appearance, as much as possible, to their inner self. Their clothing, hair, makeup, and behavior should be a reflection of what they believe about themselves and their purpose. So when I say they are only as beautiful as they act...I mean it. And I make them tell me how they are acting and whether it is truly beautiful behavior (or not). 1 Timothy 8-10
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
4. Praise them, not only for their appearance, but for all the other things that make them precious. Their independence, helpfulness, manners, generosity, and smarts.
My general idea is that these things eventually help them build an identity that has less basis in their outward appearance than it does in who they are inside. And maybe, just maybe, if I can do that - and never let them shop alone - they will make better choices than I sometimes see our young women making.
p.s. The world tells us that we have the right to display all our feminine charms any way we wish. That it is about power - and that men who object simply don't like women having power over their bodies and their lives. I don't object to looking pretty. In fact, I love it. But my definition of pretty and the world's differ greatly. And for me, dressing modestly is more freedom than walking around half naked.