In an episode of A & E’s Duck Dynasty last season, Sadie, the teen daughter of the Robertson clan’s Willie and Kori, needed a dress for the homecoming dance. Like many families, daddy and daughter had different ideas about suitable attire for the dance. Willie ordered Sadie to return the first dress she purchased.
“Is there something wrong with it?” Sadie asked.
“Yeah, there’s not enough material,” Willie complained. “Does Sadie look nice in her dress? Yes. But it’s the kind of nice the boys at school are going to think is really nice. And that’s going to make me really uncomfortable. Because she’s really young and she’s really my daughter. And I’m really accurate with a crossbow.
Willie echoed the feelings of thousands of parents around the country when he said, “It’s just that my daughter’s dressed up like she’s thirteen going on twenty.”
That resulted in a long afternoon at the formalwear boutique, with Willie rejecting one dress after another (while Uncle Si modeled tuxedos). An exasperated Sadie finally used her cell phone to call her mom from the fitting room for an assist.
The Robertsons, a family very open about their Christian faith on Duck Dynasty, eventually settled on a dress, but the show highlighted the very real problem of immodest and age-inappropriate formal attire designed for teens. While part of the problem is that the teens want to wear skimpy, body-clinging gowns, it is also true that dresses that are both modest and fashionable are often in short supply.
Hoping to change that, Sadie Robertson, age 16, made her debut on the runway at New York Fashion Week last week showing off her new line of “daddy approved” prom dresses that will be available next spring. Robertson collaborated with designer Sherri Hill to create the line and modeled two of the gowns at the Evening By Sherri Hill show at Trump Tower on Monday night.
Hill, who asked Sadie to be the celebrity spokesmodel for the line — called Sadie Robertson Live Original — worked with Sadie to create dresses both she and her father would approve of.
“Me and my mother and my grandma went to Sherri Hill’s place and we all picked out ‘daddy approved’ length,” Sadie told Fox News. “She also added a couple inches to some that we loved but weren’t modest.”
Sadie said that her dad had to approve all the gowns before they were accepted into the line. She follows the “finger-tip rule,” making sure all dresses are at list finger-tip length and said that “everything is modest up here,” referring to the bodices.
If you’re the parent of a teen girl, the problem the Robertsons encountered is likely not unfamiliar to you. Beginning in the “tween” years, the fashion and entertainment industries encourage little girls to dress like seductive women on the prowl, teaching them that their value is in their sexuality. Dannah Gresh, author of Secret Keeper Girl: The Delicate Power of Modesty, recently wrote about some reasons to teach girls to dress modestly at her Pure Freedom blog:
According to a task force report by the American Psychological Association, the hyper-sexualization of little girls by making them grow up too fast and expressing themselves through more sensual fashion increases the risk of eating disorders, depression and body image issues. The Medical Institute for Sexual Health has determined that girls (and boys) who “look older than they are” are at risk of an earlier sexual debut. How does a girl look older? By the way that she dresses and the make-up she wears. Years ago, something in my fashion-loving self just knew that I needed to be a woman who sounded the alarm to say: “Let’s let little girls be little girls!”
Gresh said the purpose of the body is to glorify God and women should make that a prime consideration when choosing fashion. She developed The Secret Keeper Girl Truth or Bare Fashion Tests as a fun way for girls and their moms to think about fashion in that context. Often, carved-in-stone rules like “finger-tip length” don’t work in real life because of a girl’s body type or because of the specific design of a dress or a top. Click below to read Dannah’s tips for shopping for modest fashions.
These handy tests for girls are taken from Dannah Gresh’s book, Secret Keeper Girl: The Delicate Power of Modesty. Gresh is careful to caution that they are not hard and fast rules — the Bible does not give specific fashion advice — but rather, practical tips that can help guide girls toward making modest fashion choices.
Test 1: The Raise and Praise
Target Question: “Am I showing too much belly?”
Action: Stand straight up and pretend that you are going for it in worship, and extend your arms in the air to God. Is this exposing a lot of belly? We need to save that for our husband!
The solution: Go to the guys department and buy a simple ribbed T-shirt. (Dannah calls these “secret weapons”) to wear under your funky short T’s or with your trendy low riders. Layers are a great solution to belly shirts.
Test 2: Grandpa’s Mirror
Target Question: “How short is too short?”
Action: Get in front of a full-length mirror. If you are in shorts, sit criss-cross style. If you are in a skirt, sit in a chair with your legs crossed. Now, what do you see in the mirror? Okay, pretend it is your Grandpa! If you see undies, or lots of thigh, your shorts or skirt is too short!
Remedy: Buy longer shorts and skirts!
Test 3: Over and Out
Target Question: “Are my pants too low”
Action: You might need to ask your mom or a good girl friend to help you out with this test. Lean forward and touch your toes. Ask your mom if anything is out of your jeans that you wouldn’t want others to see. If so, your pants are too low!
Remedy: A “secret weapon” ribbed tank can come in particularly handy in this case. They are made to be extra long. Simply tuck them in to your favorite pair of low rider jeans and you’re good to go. No matter how you bend and move throughout the day, nothing will show except your undershirt.
Test 4: Spring Valley
Target Question: “Is my shirt too tight?”
Action: Place the tips of your fingers together and press into your shirt right in the “valley.” Count to three take your fingers away. If your shirt springs back like a small trampoline, it is too tight!
Remedy: Don’t buy clothes based on the size. Buy them based on fit. Usually, you do have to go a few sizes larger these days to have a modest fit.
Test 5: The Palm Pilot
Target question: “Is my shirt too low cut?”
Action: Place your palm flat with all your fingers tightly together. Hook your thumb onto the little shelf (clavicle) at the base of your neck. Hold your hands flat against your chest. There should be no skin under your pinky, just fabric!
Remedy: Layering is a great way to wear trendy, low cut shirts without bombing the palm pilot test. Wear a cute tank top or t-shirt under a lower cut shirt and you’re all set.
Gresh tells girls that God has a purpose for them — one part being to express God’s beauty. If God’s plan is for her to marry one day, she will have the opportunity to “intoxicate” one man with her beauty for life (Proverbs 5:18-19). Though she possesses the the power to attract many men, Gresh challenges them to think beyond the modern hook-up culture: “Will you have many men? Or will you dare to dream romantically of just one?” Fashion decisions, though just one factor, help set the tone for the direction of a girl’s future romantic attachments. Ideally, like the Robertson family, girls and their parents should work together to choose God-honoring fashions that will reflect the girl’s inner beauty and her love for God.