Families are strengthened when parents teach modesty to their sons and their daughters by word as well as by example. When parents teach and model modesty, children usually follow their example.
Modesty has been described as "an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior." In other words, a modest person does not "draw undue attention" to themselves. It has been my experience that how we dress affects how we act.
My daughter brought her family to visit a few weeks ago. While they were here, I polished my little five-year-old granddaughter's fingernails and toenails. Her parents entered the room while I was in the process and voiced some minor objections. I told them that I thought they were being silly about painted nails causing their little girl to become sleazy because I had painted nails as a child and I stayed modest. Even though I brushed off their worries, I have pondered often on the situation. My main concern was whether or not I undermined their authority, but a secondary concern was the same as their concern.
I believe that if parents teach and model modesty, their children will eventually do the same. I remember an experience that happened many years ago when my daughter was in high school. She left the house one afternoon to prepare for a dance at her friend's house. I discussed with her what she would wear to the dance, and she explained that she was borrowing a dress from her friend. I apparently didn't ask about the modesty of the dress, and she didn't volunteer any information. Upon her return from the dance, I asked about her experience. She laughed and replied that she had spent the evening doing the "prom pull." When I questioned what she meant, she explained that she spent the entire evening pulling up the strapless dress she borrowed. After her experience, she had no further desire to wear a strapless dress, and she dresses modestly to this day.
When parents do not know the importance of modesty or do not care about it, they tend to follow the examples they see on television or in the movies or yield to peer pressure - and allow or encourage their children to do the same. I have seen many examples of the following experience written about by LZ Granderson on CNN.com: "Her beautiful, long blond hair was braided back a la Bo Derek in the movie `10' (or for the younger set, Christina Aguilera during her `Xtina' phase). Her lips were pink and shiny from the gloss, and her earrings dangled playfully from her lobes.
"You can tell she had been vacationing somewhere warm, because you could see her deep tan around her midriff thanks to the halter top and the tight sweatpants that rested just a little low on her waist. The icing on the cake? The word `Juicy' was written on her backside.
"Yeah, that 8-year-old girl was something to see alright. … I hope her parents are proud. Their daughter was the sexiest girl in the terminal, and she's not even in middle school yet."
Why was an 8-year-old girl allowed to wear a halter top and tight sweatpants - especially in a public place? Did the parents purchase the clothing or did they send their daughter to the mall by herself? What do those parents hope to accomplish by allowing their daughter to dress like a tramp?
Granderson asked, "What adult who wants a daughter to grow up with high self-esteem would even consider purchasing such items? …
"And then I remember the little girl at the airport. And the girls we've all seen at the mall. And the kiddie beauty pageants.
"And then I realized as creepy as it is … the fact remains that sex only sells because people are buying it. No successful retailer would consider introducing an item like a padded bikini top for kindergarteners if they didn't think people would buy it. …
"It's easy to blast companies for introducing the sexy wear, but our ire really should be directed at the parents who think low rise jeans for a second grader is cute. They are the ones who are spending the money to fuel this budding trend. They are the ones who are supposed to decide what's appropriate for their young children to wear, not executives looking to brew up controversy or turn a profit. …
"Friends bow to peer pressure. Parents say, `No, and that's the end of it.'"
I don't appreciate seeing adults wearing sexy clothes. I don't see any need for women to be flaunting their cleavage for everyone to see. I certainly don't think it is attractive to see butt cheeks hanging out from under too-skimpy shorts. And I don't like to see teenage boys' underwear showing at the top of their low-hanging jeans! I don't see any reason why children should be dressing like tramps and sluts! The way we dress tells others what we think about ourselves. If we have high self-esteem and know we have value, we will dress to show that we feel that way. Is the sleazy dress code among our children and teens affecting their school work? Is the "dress code" to blame for the poor education in our nation?
Athelia LeSueur and her friend Emily Bell MCormick could not find modest dresses - so they decided to design and market them. They launched an on-line boutique called Shabby Apple. LeSueur said, "Immodesty disempowers women.... When women dress respectfully, they are given respect. Dressing modestly communicates to others that one deserves to be treated as a person with a mind and a strong sense of self." (See BYU Magazine, Spring 2011, p 69.)
It is time for parents to act as parents and to teach their children by word and by example to dress modestly. Modest dress brings better behavior, and better behavior helps our children to be safer. This is why I state that families are strengthened when parents teach and model modesty.