The Clothes Crisis

Skin-tight T-shirts and hip-slung jeans are the hallmarks of fashion for teen girls. Here's how you can help your daughter make choices that show off her heart, not her body

What's the number one thing that causes you to feel sexually tempted," my husband asked a roomful of lanky teenage boys. They wasted no time answering.

"I think the worst thing by far is the way girls dress in church," one boy replied.

A room full of bobbing heads affirmed his answer.

"It's like church is supposed to be a place where you don't have to face temptation and you walk in and Bam! There it is. How do you avoid that?"

They all turned their eyes to my husband, pleading for a good answer.

You've undoubtedly noticed it, too. The crop tops, the visible bra straps, the low-slung jeans that make up today's fashions for girls are everywhere. The discomfort we feel when we look at these clothes isn't just the result of our age. Fashion today really is all about sex.

If you're not convinced, consider the images our daughters face every day. Candies, a popular teen clothing and shoe label, is currently running an abstinence campaign. It's promoted by the sale of T-shirts—teeny, tiny, belly-revealing, breast hugging T-shirts that read "Be SEXY: It doesn't mean you have to have sex." The "virginal" Britney Spears pairs an attitude of coy purity with revealing costumes. She teaches girls how to tease and tempt with their bodies, even as they play sweet and pure with their words.

These messages have convinced our daughters that this kind of sensual exposure is merely fashion. They don't understand that what's really being promoted is the idea that their bodies are for show, for the pleasure of others, not sacred temples meant for God's glory.

The Sex Connection

Surprisingly, it isn't just Christians who are growing concerned over this trend of sexualized fashion. An editorial in the Indianapolis News stated that, "Those who minimize the correlation between immodesty and sexual promiscuity deceive themselves and others."

Studies that analyze the risk of teen sexual activity consistently point out that a girl who looks older than she is has a greater risk of becoming sexually active. And puberty isn't the only thing that makes a girl look more mature. Clothing and make-up can help a 12-year-old look 15 in minutes.

Nor is this just a girls' issue. As the boys my husband spoke with point out, the mixed messages sent by girls who look sexy but claim purity are a major stumbling block in the boys' efforts to live godly lives (see "Helping Boys Stay Pure," p. 48). When the girls look easy and the boys are tempted, their young hearts and hormones can easily get carried away.

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