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Exercising Beauty

with Dannah Gresh, Teresa Coelho | March 24, 2006

On today's broadcast, two moms--author Dannah Gresh and Teresa Coelho, talk with Dennis Rainey about dressing attractively, yet modestly, in a culture that idolizes and promotes sex appeal.

On today's broadcast, two moms--author Dannah Gresh and Teresa Coelho, talk with Dennis Rainey about dressing attractively, yet modestly, in a culture that idolizes and promotes sex appeal.

Exercising Beauty

With Dannah Gresh, Teresa Coelho
|
March 24, 2006
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: No matter what your age, what you wear makes a statement about what's in your heart.  There's power there.  Here is Dannah Gresh.

Dannah: There is power in modesty.  Men, in the Victorian Era, would court women, write them love notes, serenade them, because the virtue and modesty of the women in that era required men to earn those hearts.

 And I think it's important that we share with them not only that if they're immodest they have power that's destructive; they also need to know that if they express themselves in a modest way that that has power.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, March 24th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We're going to talk today about what we can do as parents to help our children embrace the power of modesty.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You remember that story about the girl up in Seattle a couple of years ago wrote to the CEO of Nordstrom's, didn't she?

Dennis: Right, 11 years old.

Bob: And she was upset because she couldn't find anything to wear at their store.

Dennis: She was upset she couldn't find any modest clothing, and everything was the Britney Spears look for a little girl.

Bob: And, all of a sudden, her name and her letter were showing up in The New York Times and all over the place, right?

Dennis: Right.

Bob: Now, you've always had it in for Abercrombie & Fitch, right?

Dennis: [laughing] I've told several million people about Abercrombie & Fitch, yes.

Bob: Because you don't like the catalogs, and you don't like the pictures on the wall.

Dennis: They are marketing immorality and pedaling clothing that – well, it's immoral.

Bob: Okay, so if an 11-year-old girl can get national news for her letter to Nordstrom's …

Dennis: Just one little girl.

Bob: That's right, and you talk to people about Abercrombie – here's my question – is there a way to somehow get – even if you can't make everything in the store modest, is there a way to get a modesty section put into your local department store?  Is there a way to create a groundswell, a movement, so that fashion designers and stores and everybody else would say, "You know, we better create some modest clothing, or our market share is going to be down this year."

Dennis: Well, that's just what we were talking about before we came on air here on FamilyLife Today.  We've got two moms who join us – Dannah Gresh and Teresa Coelho join us on FamilyLife Today.  Ladies, welcome back.

Dannah: Thank you so much.

Teresa: Thank you.

Bob: Two modestly dressed moms, I might add.

Dennis: Yes, who also are on soapboxes.  They're on soapboxes of their own …

Bob: Yeah, well, I've got to tell you ladies, you're in here with the king of the soapbox.  You know that, don't you?

Dennis: We're creating a soapbox that has room for the four of us because we've all been fighting over that soapbox all this week.  But we're creating room for one more, and that's the listener and maybe for her daughter or his daughter, because what I'd like to do is – while I was using the illustration, what would happen if we could create the equivalent of these pressure sprayers. 

Bob: Yeah?

Dennis: You know, I rented one of these to clean my deck on our house, where you spray the lumber to get the algae and the dirt off of it, and it's got several hundred pounds if not a couple of thousands pounds per square inch of spray.

Bob: Your deck needed that, too.

Dennis: It did, it did, it kind of smelled like a fish dock after I'd done that.  But, you know, the pressure, if it's brought to bear in the right place, kind of cleans things up and cleans it out.

Bob: Yeah, now, I know – when you talk about bringing pressure, you want to make sure that you bring it in an appropriate way, right?

Dennis: There you go.  You do.  It's not a bunch of Christians waving their Bibles like I've got mine in the air right now and thumping it.

Bob: You don't want a picket line out in front of the department store, right?

Dennis: No, you don't.  You want it done appropriately, and I might add – and now, more than 13 years of broadcasting, have you ever known me to ask our listeners to write a letter to any politician or any company?

Bob: Just Abercrombie & Fitch and tell them you're not going to shop there anymore.

Dennis: I don't think I even said to write them, I just said to walk into the store and just tell the manager that you used to be a customer, and you don't appreciate it.  But I don't think we've ever done anything like that.

Bob: No, I think you're right. 

Dennis: But I want to call for a letter-writing campaign by moms, dads, and any young lady who is old enough to pen a letter.  If she's five or six years old, and she can put the words in her own handwriting, then I want her to write a letter to the leading fashion magazine in New York City and, according to you, Dannah, you know this magazine to be a leader – they're a leader in the fashion industry.  They're not only reporting what has been occurring in women's fashions, they are also letting the market know where it's headed.

Darrah: Their fashion forecaster, yes, that's right.  "Women's Wear Daily," they call it the Bible of the fashion industry.

Bob: It's a trade publication.

Darrah: It's a trade publication, it's very influential, and I think that putting kind, loving pressure on them  – just saying "This is what we want" will work because there's a precedent for it.  In Arizona a few years ago, a youth group that was preparing for their local prom went to the local department store and said, "There is nothing there that we can wear."  And they simply went to the managers and with, I think, like, 1,100 letters and said, "We really want to shop here, but we need some modest options in the promwear."  And they provided it.  They are more than eager to provide it, but they were positive about it.  They weren't negative.  They said, "We want to spend our money with you.  Will you provide this?"

Dennis: Jesus said to be wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove.  Now, as believers, we need to be careful how we write these letters.  If we write a letter, it needs to be gracious, kind, non-inflammatory, not accusing anyone, and so as you write the letter, as you have your daughter also write a letter, maybe your son – maybe some of you have some sons who don't appreciate some of the immodest clothing, and maybe they'd like to write a letter to this magazine.

Bob: Well, let me pull back here, and we've got the address for "Women's Wear Daily" on our website at FamilyLife.com if folks want to join and write a letter, but we've seen little outbreaks of modesty around the country – the example that you talked about in Arizona or this girl in Seattle.  I can imagine somebody at a department store or in the fashion industry going, "Well, okay.  Give me a definition of what you're looking – what is modesty?  How do you define modesty?"

Dennis: You know, one of the problems when it comes to a definition of modesty is we all tend to do it by comparing perhaps what we believe in our standard with what we see in the world.  You can always find some standard that may be a little lower than yours that helps you feel okay about where you are.

 Now, Dannah, as you look at the Bible, and as you have stepped up to become a champion for young ladies in terms of modesty, if you were pressed really hard to say "This ought to be the Christian community standard about what is modest," how would you answer that?

Dannah: The Bible addresses modesty four times very briefly and not very specifically.  The most specific example would be in 1 Peter 3 where it says your standard of beauty shouldn't be about your braided hair, your gold jewels and your fine clothes, but it should be that of an inner heart.  So part of our definition of modesty has to go back to our daughter's hearts, and their hearts really want to express beauty. 

 Why do little girls love to play dress-up when they're three years old, when they're two years old?  You know, you can hardly get them out of those feather boas at bedtime.  Their hearts desire that, and so I think it's really important that as Christian parents we don't take away the expression of beauty.  Rather we say that modesty is exercising that expression with responsibility, with caution, because we do understand the mind of a man, because we do understand that God created them. 

 Proverbs 5, 18 and 19, says, "Rejoice in the wife of your youth, a loving doe, a graceful deer.  May her body satisfy you always; may you be ever captivated by her love."  That word "captivated" was the Hebrew word "intoxicated."  God created the male being to be intoxicated by the female beauty, and if we don't carry that with caution and responsibility, we do a great disservice to our children today.

Dennis: You know, what we have to help our daughters understand is their beauty and their innocence and their modesty are all wrapped up together, and if they don't protect that and hide that like a package to be unwrapped by one man in their lifetime, then they are, in essence, using that power in the lives of young men to win them to their hearts, frankly, in a wrong way.  And we have to train our daughters to, as you said, understand the mind of a man but also understand their own power.

Dannah: Yes.

Dennis: A woman has an incredible power over a guy.  I just had somebody this morning send me an e-mail, and it was entitled – I think it was entitled, "The Mind of a Man."  So it shows a guy in a Mercedes pulling up to a parking gate to get out of a parking deck.  The gate goes up, and he exits the parking ramp.  The next guy comes driving up in a Corvette convertible, and at the same time as he is driving up, a young lady walks by on the sidewalk who is dressed in a very immodest fashion.  And it shows him gawking at her, and the next thing you see is the gate coming down from the last guy who just left, hitting the guy on the head in the convertible, and it comes back up and hits him again, and he continues to gawk at the girl.  And I laughed in my office.  I thought, you know, this really does help understand the mind of a man of how we can completely lose sight of where we are, what we're doing, because of the power of a woman in our lives.

Bob: As you were talking, I was thinking about trucks that have the hazardous material stickers on the truck.  And if you see one of those, you go, you know, you've got to handle that with care, you've got to be careful about that because that's dangerous stuff.  And I don't mean that in a negative sense, but she needs to recognize this could injure somebody unless I handle it properly.

Dannah: And I think it's important that we share with them not only that if they express their beauty without caution, if they are immodest they have power that's destructive ; they also need to know that if they express themselves cautiously, responsibly in a modest way that that has power; that there is power in modesty. 

 Men, in the Victorian Era, did not court women, write them love notes, serenade them because it was more fun than the casual sex movement of today.  They did it because the virtue and modesty of the women in that era required men to earn those hearts.

Bob: All right, so when you stop and think, then, about wanting to try to create a modesty movement, and you think where does the fashion sense of America come from?  Doesn't it come from media?  Is the media not the genesis of either modesty or immodesty?  I'm imagining, let's say that all of the movies that were coming out today and all of the TV shows showed attractive women in modest clothing, wouldn't that start a rage?

Dannah: Oh, yeah, last summer the rage was these long, flowing skirts.  So, all of a sudden, instead of the miniskirt phenomenon, we had all these girls in these wonderful long skirts, and it was fabulous.  So whatever they show is what everybody is going to wear.

Dennis: Earlier this week, Dannah, you confessed right on this broadcast that a publisher came to you asking you to become a champion for the subject of modesty, and I was sitting here listening to you, and I wanted to ask you this question, but I saved it for now.  What was going on inside of you, as a woman who is married, who is a mom, that you struggled, you admittedly struggled with wanting to be a champion for modesty.

Dannah: Ohhhhh.

Dennis: I really appreciate your honesty at that point, but I was thinking you know what?  Let's find out a little of what's behind that.

Dannah: Well, I like to shop and, quite honestly, I think that's why 1 Peter 3:3 is there – don't get hung up on the braided hair and the gold jewels and the fine clothes because God knows that we do, and I have to back up and prayerfully consider what my approach is to fashion.  I think God cares.  If He didn't care, He wouldn't have addressed it in His Word.  He does not waste words in there.

 But I also think, if I'm truly brutally honest, is that, you know, it's very widely known that we have a pornography problem in our churches that men are struggling deeply with wanting to look.  You know, I think that, as women, we want to be looked at.

Dennis: I was just getting ready to ask you that question. 

Dannah: I think that's the opposite end of it.  It's like the female pornography – it may be more emotional, more socially acceptable, but being really consumed with how we look and if we meet the standards.  And Teresa shared, on the very first day, that all of her struggles began with that very feeling when she was in ninth grade – wanting to look like everybody else and wanting to be more beautiful and more fantastic than the next girl.

Dennis: I would never stated, as you just did, female pornography or kind of like that's how you said it, but I think beauty is to women what the sex drive and the visual stimulation of pornography and women's bodies is to men.  And a woman is hardwired to want to express that beauty, and there is something within you, as ladies, that enjoys turning a head.

Dannah: Yes.

Dennis: Having a man turn and look at you.

Dannah: But just as God has called every man to save his eyes for just one woman, he has called me to save my body for just one man.

Bob: Turn one head.

Dannah: Turn one head.

Bob: And that should just be your husband's head, right?  All right, so we're trying to create this modesty campaign here.  We've got "Women's Wear Daily," we've got the department stores, we've got the Hollywood stars and the studios …

Dennis: … and we've also got teenage daughters who are – it's prom time, and they're wanting to go get a dress.  So this is not theory.  I mean, they're pressing us.  This is a tough issue.

Bob: Is there anyplace else we need to be expressing our concern that can have some influence, do you think?

Dannah: Our churches.

Bob: What do you mean?

Dannah: I really think there's some power in the pulpit, and if our pastors would speak about this it would go a long, long way to change the hearts and homes.

Dennis: I couldn't agree more.  One of the best responses we had a couple of years ago, Bob, you'll remember it, was C.J. Mahaney speaking about the subject of modesty, and it was interesting because as he spoke you could tell there were some women in the audience in his church at that time who were dressed immodestly.  In fact, he wanted to make sure they felt okay, because they might have not been Christians.  It might have been their first time at church.  He talked about how we in the Christian community can't start walking around with a magnifying glass prejudging one another's dress, but that we need to give grace to one another and allow one another being process around this subject.

 But I couldn't agree more.  Didn't we ask, Bob, for a number of pastors to preach on this across the country?  And I only got a handful of tapes.  I think it's a tough area for a man to preach on, number one, but, number two, I think it's a tough one for women to listen to as well.

Dannah: Yup, it is.

[laughter]

Bob: Amen.

Teresa: You know, when looking for the pastors in our church, the men in our church, to step up and to protect us as women, but also I'm getting a lot of feedback from men who are complaining about how their daughters dress, but they're not doing anything about it, and that's where I want to come in and say, "Okay, moms and dads," as you did earlier in the week, Dennis, let's make a difference.  Let's go into our community, let's go into our church, and let's do a fashion show, let's give the kids a choice and don't just give it to somebody else to do when you can do it yourself.

Bob: Yes, and we've posted on our website at FamilyLife.com information about the fashion show you did in Southern California.  Are there sources on the Web where you can find modest clothing?  I have to be honest with you, somebody sent me one time a link, and they said "I heard you talking about modesty on the radio.  Go to this website."  And I went to the website, and I looked, and I thought, "Uh-oh, if that's what we're prorating [?] as modesty, we're in deep trouble, because that's not even pretty, you know?  Are there companies trying to launch a modesty movement on the Web?

Dannah: Yes, there are, and some of them are doing it well.  One of them that I really recommend during prom season very consistently is Sabrina Nicole design.  All she does is prom dresses.  She does them tastefully, but they're beautiful.  You know, they're really well done, they're not just modest and not fun to wear, you know?

Dennis: I wonder if we could put a link …

Bob: I imagine we could, on our website at FamilyLife.com?

Dennis: To, hopefully, their website, because that's the issue, is for a mom and a dad to be able to take their teenage daughter to a store and find one of these dresses.  That was a real challenge for us.

Bob: Right, and maybe if the department stores started hearing about modesty fashion shows that were taking place around the community, maybe they'd perk up and go, "There something going on here."  Because, you know, what fuels it all at the end of the day – ching-ching, ching-ching – the cash register ringing.  If the cash register will ring for modest clothes, the department stores will stock them, won't they?

Dennis: That's right, and parents do have control over their children and where their children spend their money.  I've asked my daughters to take clothing back.  Now, they haven't necessarily wanted to vote for me as President of the United States at that point, but I'm not running a popularity contest.  I just want to thank you, Dannah, for your work on Secret Keeper Girl, just by creating great resources for moms like Teresa to use.  At the first one you did, Teresa, you actually passed out "Secret Keeper," which is a smaller book that Dannah created for young ladies and, well, there's a power of modesty covenant that you passed out, and then Steinmart jumped in there, and they gave a discount coupon.

Bob: And had a pretty good day of sales that day, didn't they?

Teresa: We had a good turnout that day for them.

Dennis: But I want to thank both of you, Teresa, Dannah, for doing that and for just being courageous women in a culture that desperately needs moms to care.

Dannah: Thank you, it's our pleasure.

Bob: For those moms who do want to step up and engage on this issue, we've got resources to help you available on our website including some of the things you talked about, Dennis – the Secret Keeper Girl Collection, that provides a series of dates for a mom and a daughter to do together to help reinforce these ideas of modesty. 

 There's the Secret Keeper Power Pack that Dana has put together that has in it the book you mentioned, "Secret Keeper," and a DVD that shows one of your fashion shows, one of your modesty fashion shows so girls can get an idea of what we're talking about here.

 There are other resources that are available from us.  You remember Vicki Courtney was on our broadcast back a few weeks ago.  She has a magazine called "Teen Virtue."  Actually, I think she called it a "magabook," or something.  It's a magazine-looking book for girls that deals with some of these same issues. 

And we have other resources you'll find when you go to FamilyLife.com.  In the middle of the page, you'll see where it says "Today's Broadcast."  If you click the red button that says "Go" right there, it will take you to the page where you can review the resources we've talked about here today; other resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife.  We want to provide tools to help equip you, as a parent, on this issue.  So, again, go to the website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button on the screen that says "Go," and that will take you right to the page where you can get more information about what is available from us here at FamilyLife.  And if you don't have Internet access or if the phone is just easier for you, call 1-800-FLTODAY.  We've got folks who can answer any questions you have about resources, help review what we've talked about here today and figure out what we can do to send some of these materials your direction, all right?

Let me also say a word of thanks here at the end of the week to those of you who are financial supporters of FamilyLife Today.  I don't know how many of our listeners know this, but in each community where we are heard, there are a handful of folks who either, each month or from time to time, help us pay the bills.  They send donations to FamilyLife, and those donations are what we use to make sure that the costs associated with this program are fully covered.  And we want to thank those of you who in the past have done that; those of you who are Legacy Partners who continue to send in monthly support for this ministry.  We appreciate that, and we want to invite those of you who are regular listeners but maybe have never made a donation to FamilyLife Today to consider doing that.

You can donate online at FamilyLife.com.  We've got a secure server, and we can take care of that easily online, if you'd like.  Or you can simply call 1-800-FLTODAY and say, "I'd like to make a donation," and we can take care of that over the phone with you as well.  Again, thanks for considering that, thanks for praying for us, and we do appreciate your support of this ministry.  We're just glad you tune in and listen.  We hope you'll continue to do that and, as you're able to help financial support, again, we appreciate that.

Well, we hope you have a great weekend.  I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday when we're going to talk about the prom – what should a Christian parent do about the prom?  Do you say no?  Do you say go?  And what do you do to make sure that your kids continue to live out their convictions for Christ at the prom?  We'll talk about it on Monday with our guest, Barbara Curtis, I hope you can be here with us for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.

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