by Dannah Gresh
Recent research suggests that you might want to start! The Children's National Medical Center says that just 10 years ago, new eating disorder patients tended to be around age 15, but now kids come in as young as 5 and 6. The American Psychological Association weighs in by stating that skimpy clothes are, in part, to blame for the trend. Girls, at increasingly younger ages, are invited to try on and wear teen clothes designed to highlight female sexuality. Instead of making little girls feel good about their bodies, they feel fat and ugly. Ironically, this often leads to an inability to develop into women with healthy sexuality. In essence, magazines, fashion trends and television are courting your daughter into an early sexuality and it has a long-term harmful effect.
The best way to fight back is parent-child connectedness–spending time with her!
When my daughter, Lexi, was nine I stumbled on to creating a series of "dates" for her and her friends in which we discussed everything from the on-set of womanhood to their music choices to boys! When my publisher and husband got wind of it, it turned into Secret Keeper Girl. Over 100,000 moms and daughters (ages 8-12) have joined us on these creative dates. It's been so successful in helping moms creatively and comfortably talk about difficult things that my friends at Moody Publishers have helped me to create an entire line-up of Secret Keeper Girl products launching this fall. At the core of these new interactive products–including a full-line of fun fiction, which helps mom and daughter converse about things like boy-craziness, mean girls and itsy-bitsy fashion–is another mother/daughter "date" kit. These creative "dates" are actually backed by social science and set the stage for pro-active conversations to instill your truth into your daughter about how valuable she is before the culture tells her she has to get thinner, dress in less and look like the cover of a magazine to be valuable.
I believe so firmly in using creative investments of time to overcome the clamor of our culture that I'm going to be writing to you every two months to remind you about it right here at MTLmagazine.com. I'll be bringing you some creative ways to connect with your daughter–I have two–, or sons–I have one of those as well. Here's a simple date at the mall for you and your daughter to get you started. It will help you start a conversation about skimpy clothes and why you vote "no".
A Secret Keeper Girl Shopping Challenge
Peer pressure has power. Social studies tell us that to really get your daughter saying ÒnoÓ to skimpy clothes, you need her friends to join her. So, call two or three of your daughterÕs friends and their moms and head to the mall for this fun shopping challenge.
1.) Present some creative guidelines for what you consider tasteful and age-appropriate. Forget hard-fast rules like "your shorts have to come to your finger tips!" Make this fun. You might make one up called "I see London, I see France–Can you see my Under-pants?" To take this test, have your daughter sit with her legs crossed in front of a mirror when she tries on a skirt. If it's too short, the answer will be "yes!" (For ideas, check out Secret Keeper Girl's creative Truth or Bare Fashion tests at www.secretkeepergirl.com.)
2.) Give each girl a specific amount of money and a specific amount of time, then release them to shop 'til they drop. You might try $50 in 50 minutes or $20 in 20 minutes. The time factor makes it suspenseful and fun. Here's the real challenge: each girl has to purchase something that passes all of your fashion tests!
3.) Hit the ice cream shop to debrief. Make sure you end this creative date with a group conversation about how much fun you had and how much you all learned. Use these Girl Gab questions to guide your conversations!
Girl Gab Time: Ask the girls if it was ever hard to find clothes that weren't too short, too tight or too low-cut? Ask them if they've ever noticed older girls wearing clothes that reveal too much and what that makes them think about? How does it make them feel? Talk about what gives them the most value–cool clothes and the way they look OR internal beauty, like kindness, peacefulness, friendliness and love. Let them know that you know their value lies on the inside and that's why you won't let the culture define them by how they dress and look!
Dannah Gresh has sold over half a million copies of her books–including And the Bride Wore White and Lies Young Women Believe (co-authored with Nancy Leigh DeMoss)–, making her one of the most successful Christian authors targeting teens and tweens. Learn about her newest line-up of Secret Keeper Girl products at your local Christian bookstore or visit www.secretkeepergirl.com.