It used to be primarily summer when beautiful bronzed bodies in itsy bitsy bikinis invaded pools everywhere (and made me want to cover my two little boys’ eyes). But these days the trending clothing styles, no matter the season, are all about showing skin. Low V-neck, tight, and high hem dresses, booty shorts, sexy cut outs, backless blouses, and lace bras is what girls wear for any occasion on any given day. It would be naïve to think my now teenage boys aren’t captivated by what they see their female peers wearing not just in summer, but every day.
In having navigated through the issue of immodest dress with my daughter during her teen years, my husband and I ultimately had the final say in what we deemed acceptable, regardless of what others were wearing. But what hit me back then is that I would have no say over the wardrobe selections of the teen girls and future college women who would surround my sons. It makes me sad to think of my boys battling constant temptation and lust, but it also makes me sad for the girls who think they need to draw extra attention to their bodies in order to feel valuable.
To be considered “hot” seems like the ultimate compliment and boost to a girl’s self-esteem. Just take a quick glance through Instagram and you will see comments like: “HOT,” “#Goals,” and “Can I be you?” In a way, I get it (I am, after all, a woman).
It seems that every young girl falls for the lie (at one point or another) that acceptance, value, and worth is tied to appearance. So when a few girls showcase their bodies and net hundreds of social media “likes,” along with the real-time attention of guys, dressing immodestly appears like the easiest way for girls everywhere to grab the attention and affirmation they so deeply crave. To be noticed, complimented, commented about, and to have other girls look enviously at them feels euphoric in the moment. But that feeling is fleeting.
In these longings, there is something more our girls are really seeking.
This is exactly where our discussions with them about how they dress need to begin – with questions like, “Why do you wear what your wear?” and “What is it you really long for?”
It is critical as both parents and leaders of young girls that we see this issue as more about idolatry than immodesty. Telling them what they shouldn’t wear, or heaping shame on them for dressing scantily will never effect change – the law lacks any power to reach the heart and get to the root.
Our girls need help understanding what idols are ruling their hearts. Whatever those ruling idols are – approval, attention, popularity, finding a boyfriend – is what drives them to dress in a way that helps secure what they think they lack. But if they can see these idols for the lies they are, they might also recognize that these worldly affirmations have not and cannot fully affirm or satisfy them.
Let’s help our girls long for more than being “hot.” Like the woman at the well, what they need to see is their deeper thirst and the only One who can actually satisfy it. What they need to hear is of the One who came and entered into our world to trade identities with them in order that they may don the most beautiful “clothes” of all – the robe of Christ.
Jesus came for idol-worshippers, like us, to give us the most secure identity we could ever hope for. By taking our sin – all of it – onto Himself and giving us all of His righteousness, He secured our right standing before God. Now when God looks upon His children, He sees us according to Jesus’ perfect, holy, and righteous record. This is our identity.
Who Jesus was for us is who we are. Because of Him, we stand approved, accepted, full of worth and eternally secure.
What this means for our girls is they don’t have to try to earn the approval of others. The Creator God of the Universe has already said they are enough. So no matter how many “likes” they get on a picture, or how many guys think they look “hot,” or how many other girls wished they looked like them, these small approvals pale in comparison to Christ’s final and complete affirmation. Who they are as Daughters of the Most High King is secure; His love and approval unchanging.
When our girls “get” this, may their soul feel its worth in such a way that again, like the woman at the well, they abandon all of their counterfeit tendencies, looking only to Jesus to fill them.