In a culture where teen girls are so often super short skirts and exposing midriffs, how do you raise teenage girls to understand the importance of modesty and self-respect? It certainly can feel like a challenge sometimes! Here are four ways to teach teens how to dress modestly.
How To Teach Your Girls To Dress Modestly
For this mom, modesty and self-respect go hand in hand. However, girls growing up these days constantly sees sexuality and immodesty in music videos, on television, online, in fashion, and in the behavior of their peers.
That’s why it is important that we talk with our daughters about modesty, sexuality, and self respect. I also tried to nurture her self-confidence by exemplifying modesty in my own life and enrolling her in activities that helped teach her how important self-respect is. Here are four methods that I chose to educate my daughter on the values modesty and self-respect.
1. Be a model for how to dress modestly.
Even when my daughter was young, I was always conscious about what I wore in her presence and what it said about me and my own self confidence. Now I don’t think of myself as a prude or a reserved person at all. However, there is a difference between wearing a short skirt that shows off your legs and boosts your self confidence, and a skirt that leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination. I try to wear things that will look flattering on me but without any feeling of inappropriateness. I want her to be proud of her mother just as I want to be proud of her. I think that how you dress yourself will go a long way towards teaching teens how to dress modestly.
2. Talk about what modesty means to you and why it is important to dress modestly.
I’ve tried to stress that fashion is way to express more than just the physical. It can also be a creative way to let your inner personality out, and showcase your wit, your ethics, your heart, and your creativity. It’s sad, but true that appearance directly causes people to judge you and affects how you are perceived—at school, among peers, professionally when you go to a job interview, and when you met people for the first time.
My daughter and I have discussed that dressing provocatively draws a certain type of attention from men. If you take it too far, you’re suddenly drawing attention from the kind of male that’s not interested in getting to know you beyond your body. I’ve also discussed the way that, unfortunately, provocative dress can be a safety risk for a woman. It’s a sad reality but provocative dress can call unwanted attention and sometimes put women at greater risk of sexual assault.
3. Teach healthy ways to gain attention
I believe the main reason that teen girls resist urges to dress modestly from parents is that they desire to assert some sort of individuality. They may assume that provocative dress shows maturity or independence. While that can be true, I tried to instill that idea that individuality can also be exercised in other ways. For instance, I taught my daughter how to sew at an early age so she could modify and make alterations to her own clothing to show her distinct personality.
I also planned special events and outings that focused on enjoyable craft activities that incorporated fashion—for instance, jewelry making, screen printed t-shirts, and hair accessory crafts—that taught her to focus her creativity via fashion in a healthy way. Most days, as a teen today, she wears neutral layers with statement making accessories that she created herself (i.e., she makes her own jewelry, knits scarves and hats, makes hair accessories, and handmade belts.)
4. Show some trust
My daughter does have a babysitting job though and she’s allowed to use some of those earnings to purchase her own clothing. When she goes shopping with friends, I’ve learned to trust her fashion choices –and that means she respects my opinion (and even seeks it out) when she gets ready for school or a social event. She even asked my opinion on homecoming dress styles for an upcoming formal event.
Yes, I agree that our kids and teens need some guidance from parents when it comes to being taught age-appropriate dress. However, too much oppression can lead to extreme rebelliousness. Therefore, I talked openly with my daughter before she started high school this year about the general guidelines of what she could wear. I let her know that I hope she makes choices to dress modestly but I also let her know that I respect her decisions. So unless she does something completely inappropriate, I let little things slide.
Teaching young girls to dress modestly should be a process of open communication without body shaming. We want to them to feel confident and not feel like they will only be noticed if they show too much. They need to learn to respect their own comfort level. I hope these tips help with teaching teens how to dress modestly.