Modesty on the Catwalk

with Dannah Gresh, Teresa Coelho | March 23, 2006

Today on the broadcast, Dannah Gresh, founder of Pure Freedom Ministries, teams up with Teresa Coelho, creator of the "Power of Modesty Fashion Shows," to talk about teaching girls to be fashionable--and modest.

Today on the broadcast, Dannah Gresh, founder of Pure Freedom Ministries, teams up with Teresa Coelho, creator of the "Power of Modesty Fashion Shows," to talk about teaching girls to be fashionable--and modest.

Modesty on the Catwalk

With Dannah Gresh, Teresa Coelho
|
March 23, 2006
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: If you're the parent of a teenage daughter or a teenage son, for that matter, and modesty is an issue for you at your home, there are some winsome ways you can address that.  Here's Dannah Gresh.

Dannah: If we approach this issue of modesty so that we take all the fun away, we lose the battle, and what my friends and I have developed is a series of tests called the "Truth or Bare" fashion test. 

 For an example, one of them we call our "raise and praise" test.  Raise your hands as if you're reaching for God, and we just want to praise Him.  Raise your hands up, and then we say, "Okay, look around.  If you see any of your friends' bellies, you have our permission to poke them."

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, March 23rd.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  For parents we've got some strategies today on how to make modesty fashionable at your house.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  Have you seen the ads for that TV show, "The OC?  Do you know what I'm talking about? 

Dennis: I haven't seen the advertisements, but I did catch a glimpse of the OC.

Bob: Yeah?  It doesn't look like the kind of place I'd want to live, you know?

Dennis: Really?

Bob: Well, yeah.

Dennis: Our guest is from OC.

Bob: Well, maybe it's not like it is on the TV show.

Dennis: We want to ask him if they want to live in Little Rock?

Bob: I just want to know if it's like that out there.  Teresa Coelho lives – you live in Orange County, right?

Teresa: I do.

Bob: And are you familiar with the show?

Teresa: I have not watched the show but just the commercial alone just …

Bob: Is that what it's like in the OC?

Teresa: You know, it's probably pretty close to that, yeah?

Bob: Really?

Teresa: Oh, yeah, we have zero morals in Southern California.

Dennis: Now, wait, I want all of our listeners to know that the guest said that who lives there.

[laughter]

 We also have joining us someone from the other coast, almost the other coast, State College, Pennsylvania.  Dannah Gresh joins us on FamilyLife Today.  Dannah, welcome back.

Dannah: Thank you so much.

Bob: They haven't done a TV show about State College, have they?

Dannah: No, I don't think it's in the works.

Bob: If they did, what would it look like?

Dannah: What would it look like?  It would be Penn State blue.

Dennis: Yeah, that's for sure.  Dannah is an author.  She heads up a ministry called Pure Freedom Ministry.  She holds Pure Freedom events all over the United States – modesty fashion shows.  Teresa used to be a model, and I say "used to be" because I looked up in Titus, chapter 2, and I've determined she's another kind of model.

Bob: Yes, you still are a model, aren't you?

Dennis: You were a fashion model before you became a Christian, and now, as a mom of four daughters, you're another kind of fashion model for modesty and its power, right?

Teresa: I am.  What an example and opportunity that God gives moms to be that model for their children.

Dennis: Okay, take us back at a staff meeting with the team here at FamilyLife.  Look me in the eye, with a little fire in your eyes, a little glint, there it is, I see it now – you blamed this event called "The Power of Modesty" – you've now done this twice, is that right?

Dannah: Yes.

Dennis: And you looked me in the eye in front of our whole staff here, and you blamed it on me.

Teresa: I did.

Dennis: And you kind of had fun doing that, didn't you?

Teresa: I did it in front of your staff.  It was getting you back.  Danny, my husband, he encouraged me to do something about how our girls – they don't have choices in how they dress.

Bob: But they're growing up in the OC, right?

Teresa: They're growing up in the OC, and they don't have a choice.  So he told me to do something about it.  I kind of kicked around a couple of ideas, but I was really downplaying the whole thing, maybe even not wanting to go through with it.

Dennis: Kind of in your backyard.

Teresa: Exactly, and how do they feel?

Dennis: And then he told me about it.

Teresa: Then Danny opened his mouth, and he came home, and he told me, "I told Dennis about your Power of Modesty, and I'm like, what did you do that for?  "Oh, he's so fired up."  And we make this announcement out of the blue and afterwards I had all of these wonderful women come up to me and want to be a part of it, wanted to be invited, wanted to know when it was, wanted, you know, to have all the details, to have their daughters and their friends come.  I was obligated at this point.

Bob: Dennis had created an event for you when you'd just been planning a little tea with your daughters?

Teresa: Exactly.

Dennis: Just have them over to your backyard.

Teresa: Yeah, just have these ladies over.

Dennis: Now, Dannah, you hold these events all over the country as well.  Are you seeing a groundswell of parents who kind of pound the table saying, "Something's got to be done about the immodest clothing that's being retailed to our daughters?"

Dannah: Well, I think I see both, would you agree, Teresa, that there are moms who say "We've got to do something," and then there are moms who pretty much empower their daughters to dress immodestly.  Would you agree?

Teresa: I do agree, and we get a lot of letters.  We've had a lot of parents come up to us and it's exactly what you said – either they are providing the clothes and encouraging their girls to dress inappropriately, or they're saying, "You know what?  We have a big problem and you know what?  You're hitting the nail right on the head, and you are helping us right now."

Bob: All right, hang on here.  I'm a parent who is not encouraging my daughters to dress immodestly, but I, frankly, finding anything – you know what I'm about to say – I either have to teach them how to sew, right? 

Dennis: Tell me about it – I used to take Laura out on dates.  We don't do this anymore because it was so depressing.  We'd go to the stores, and it was very, very difficult to find clothing that was stylish, really quality clothing that my daughter would look good in.

Bob: You've got four daughters.  How have you found modest clothing for them?

Teresa: You know, it's been difficult, especially, I think, in Orange County, because you are expected to look a certain way, and if you're not, you just don't fit in.

Bob: And that certain way is immodest?

Teresa: It's very immodest.  There's a lot of flesh showing, you know, and I think what we've learned is just there's a lot of layering.  You know, you just put on a different-colored t-shirt underneath, and another t-shirt that might be a little too low.  You know, there's other ways of getting around it, but it's really hard to find.

Dennis: Dannah, you coach moms in how to dress their daughters.  Any thoughts as they go shopping?

Dannah: It has to be fun.  I mean, why do girls want to go get a dress for the prom?  It's fun for girls to dress up like a princess and be beautiful.  Why do girls shop 'til they drop – because it's fun.  And if we approach this issue of modesty so that we take all the fun away, we lose the battle.

 And what my friends and I have developed is a series of tests.  We've developed a series of tests called the "Truth or Bare" fashion test.

Bob: Truth or bare?

Teresa: Truth or bare fashion test, and this is how we make shopping fun with our daughters.  We have about 10 of them.

Dennis: Ten questions?

Teresa: Ten tests.

Bob: Okay.

Dennis: Oh, ten tests?

Teresa: Yes.  For an example, one of them we call our "raise and praise" test.  And that is, you know, in the OC you have a little belly thing going on all the time?  Yes, okay, so, I don't know, I'm not a guy, but I've heard that can be relatively intoxicating, the belly thing. 

Bob: Yeah, I mean, I am a guy, and I'll be honest about that, that can be something a guy would notice.

Teresa: So the test we've taught our daughters is raise your hands as if you're reaching for God, and you just want to praise Him.  Raise your hands up, and then we say, "Okay, look around.  If you see any of your friends' bellies, you have our permission to poke them."  And that's their little test.

 Now, for my eight and 12-year-old daughter, this is a fun test, but it's getting a really deep truth in her heart, too.  There are about 10 of them that we have for different issues.  You talked about a  longer shirt that you can tuck – or that you don't have to tuck in, you can just let it out.  We've named that.  We call it our "secret weapon."  And every girl should have a secret weapon - a drawerful of secret weapons.  They're just tank t-shirts.  We like to buy them in the men's department, actually, or the boys' department, depending on the age of the girl, because they're longer.

Dennis: I was going to recommend the tent.

Teresa: The tent department?

Bob: That's a great tip just right there, because I hear – the raise and praise test, I'm going, "Okay, we could do that," but then I can see me sitting in the store and saying, "Okay, try this one on.  Raise your hands.  That doesn't work.  Try this one on."

Teresa: You have to have a solution.

Bob: But if you go to the guys' department.

Teresa: They don't make belly shirts for guys.

Bob: And there's a reason for that, too.

Teresa: Yeah.

[laughter]

Teresa: So, yeah, making it fun, and on our website at Pure Freedom.org, we have those tests posted so that moms can log on, and they can even add their own tests if they've come up with some.  One of them is called the "Palm Pilot test," because a lot of girls, young girls, are getting into these plunging necklines, and so we have the girls just take the palm of their hand and kind of place it in – I don't know what this is – this is a clavicle, I think, this little bone here.

Bob: Yeah, right below the Adam's apple, right?

Teresa: Yeah, you place that palm tightening up there, and you really don't want to have any flesh showing on the opposite side of the hand, you know, that whole area there.  Just little fun tests.  Giving them names makes it fun, and it doesn't take the joy out of shopping.

Bob: Teresa, I want to go back to the event that Dennis created for you, and that your husband Danny came up with – these are the requirements for it, and now you had moms saying "We want to join you."  Okay, so what did this first event look like.

Teresa: The first one, God was amazing.  I had no idea where to begin.  I didn't know what to do, and I just continued to pray about it, and He just really encouraged me to go to Steinmart.

Bob: I don't know if there are Steinmarts where everybody lives, but this is a clothing store, and it's off price or, you know, it's a discounted clothing store, right?

Teresa: Right, and I was really seeking that, because not everyone can go and shop at a Nordstrom's or a Gap.  They're a little bit more pricey.  Steinmart just really came alongside and encouraged the vision.

Bob: Now, wait, what did you do?  Did you go into the Steinmart and say, "I want to have a fashion show, do you want to join me?"

Teresa: Pretty much.  I went in there, and I asked who was in charge of that, and …

Bob: In charge of …

Teresa: The fashion shows – I don't know what they call it – fashion show coordinator, and told her what I was wanting to do.  I didn't have a date, I didn't have, really, and agenda, and she pretty much said, "You know, we are booked up for the rest of the year."

Dennis: Booked up on what?

Teresa: Doing fashion shows throughout every weekend.

Dennis: So they do a lot of these.

Teresa: They do a lot of them.  I came in, and I just stated that I wanted to do a fashion show, and she pretty much was ready to, like, whisk me out the door.

Bob: Yeah, "Sorry, we're all booked."

Teresa: Right.  The Lord really continued to prompt me to keep talking to her and letting her know what my vision was, and I was, then, you know, girls don't have a choice on what to wear, and that kind of perked her interest.  And I said, "You know, we're really looking for a store that will come alongside these girls and teach then and give them an opportunity to have that choice."  And she was, like, "You know, come into my office," and I continued to talk and let her know what I wanted that day to look like.

Bob: So you were talking to her about modesty.

Teresa: I was.

Bob: And it was resonating with her.

Teresa: It really was, and I just loved how, even though I could tell that she was ready to, like, go back to work and kind of kick me out of the store, she invited me to come into her office, and we sat down, and we talked more about it, and I said, "You know, I really want to do this.  I want to tell the kids that they have a choice but, most importantly, I want them to know that there is a moral standard, and it's in the Bible."  And she opened up her book and said, "You know, I don't have one, single weekend open, but I do have this one Monday open," and it was the Monday before Thanksgiving, and you know how moms are just crazed during that week trying to provide Thanksgiving dinner.  But you know what?  I went on God's direction, we booked it, and it was an amazing day.

Dennis: Tell us what happened.  Did you then go about promoting it with other moms around Southern California?

Teresa: We went ahead, and we had invitations made.  I went to schools; I went to the churches.  Again, I just wanted to kind of keep it small, because I wasn't exactly sure how God wanted to lead this, and I wanted it to be 100-percent Him.

Bob: And was this in your backyard, like …

Teresa: This was not in my backyard.  God had a different idea, because we were moving at the time, and I didn't have a backyard anymore. 

Bob: So where did you host it?

Teresa: Steinmart.

Bob: They did it there at their store.

Teresa: We did it there, in their store.  We took up a whole side of their department store.  We had desserts and waters brought in; we had Rebecca St. James music; we had Jump Five music going throughout the whole fashion show.  My oldest daughter, a lot of her friends from the high school came and committed a few days of preparing for the show and to actually do the fashion show with us.

Dennis: So they were in training to be a model and go down the runway.

Teresa: Exactly, yeah.

Dennis: And how many girls did you have?

Teresa: We had 10 girls and one gentleman, and it was just real exciting to see how they really felt as though they made a difference in the lives of these girls that were watching.

Dennis: And how many ended up coming to the event that day?

Teresa: We had almost 80 girls with their moms come, and along with them were the customers in the store that were shopping who came and listened, and it was really neat.  We provided a microphone and to stand and teach God's Word to these girls in the store, you know, and to have Christian music blaring throughout the store as another way of communicating that modesty is not boring.

Bob: Did each girl model one outfit?

Teresa: They modeled two outfits.

Bob: So you showed 0 outfits from clothes that were there at the Steinmart that were modest?

Teresa: Yes.

Bob: You were able to find that?

Teresa: We were able to find that, and it was not a problem.

Bob: Way to go, Steinmart.  Give it up for them [claps].

Dennis: Dannah, as you host these around the country, where are you having your fashion shows?

Dannah: Well, different places.  Sometimes we go into churches and at our events well have a fashion show, but we'll do them at places like Barnes and Noble.  You know, they've called me at times and said, "Can we do a little book signing?"  And with fear and trepidation I saw, "I don't think so.  No one will come."  But I'll do a fashion show.  Can I do a fashion show in the back of the store?"  And we do the same kind of thing, and we've had as many as 200 girls cram into the corner between the bookshelves, and they just get so excited about clothes.  They're fun clothes, they're fashionable clothes, and then you're able to wrap it up with God's truth, and you're able to minister in a public place.

Dennis: Where do you find the clothes?  I'm picturing 20 outfits at Steinmart.  I'm still kind of wondering where Teresa found 20 outfits.  You must have found appropriate clothing as well?

Dannah: Yeah, it's really, really hard, depending on the styles of the season.  Some seasons you see longer, like, walking shorts in style or longer skirts in style, then other seasons there are no inseams in the shorts whatsoever.  But this is the way we approach it, my daughter and I.  We'll just have to spend more time in the mall!

Bob: We just have to shop longer.

Dannah: That's exactly right, and it takes some creativity, and you have to go to this store and find this part of the outfit and that store and find that part of the outfit, but you make it fun, and you keep it positive, and you can do it.

Bob: And I can imagine, you're right, seasonally, in the fall, it's probably a whole lot easier to find modest sweaters, to find outfits that cover you up more because you want to stay warm when it's cold.  But, boy, when it gets to be springtime, when summer is coming, it's, like, are there really options available anywhere?

Dannah: There are options, and what you teach your daughters is that you don't try on God's truth like you try on clothes.  Well, this is out of fashion, this season.  God's truth is God's truth, and we're not trying to dress more modestly than the neighbor girl.  We're trying to dress according to God's standards, and what are they?  That's that we save all of the deepest secrets for just one man.  A lot of young teenage girls think that "if I have all my skin covered, I'm dressed modestly."  But the clothes are pasted to their bodies, and that's not modest.  And so it doesn't really matter what season it is or how much flesh is covered.  It does come back to the heart. 

I think it's important that we teach our daughters to understand, in an age-appropriate way, the mind of a man.  Because I confess that four years ago when my publisher and my husband approached me and said "We think the next step is for you to talk about modesty," I laughed.  I didn't want to talk about modesty.  I like to shop.  I wasn't necessarily dressing immodestly, but I certainly didn't have any motivation whatsoever to dress modestly or to be a spokesperson for it or to pursue it with my daughter or to fight about what she might wear when she's 13 or 14. 

But they asked me to pray about it, and when I got into the research, and I looked at how we're causing godly men to struggle, and when I looked at the fact that the Medical Institute for Sexual Health outlines the top five factors that place teenage girl at risk of having her heart broken by sexual pain, one of those factors is appearing older than she actually is.  How does she appear older but by the clothes that she wears and the makeup that she wears?  That changed this mother's heart, and I decided this is a battle that's worth fighting.

Dennis: It really is, and if moms don't fight the battle, then who will?  And the answer is there isn't anybody.  I don't think the youth pastor is going to take this on.  Most youth pastors are guys, and that's a difficult subject for a young man to take on in the church.  And, really, I think if you break America down into its most basic unit, it's the family.  And if you want to change a culture, you change the family one home at a time, and by changing the values of those homes where you begin to, first, as you did, Dannah, look inwardly and say, "Well, do I want to dress in a fashionable and modest way?"  And I think that's where you have to begin.

 Sometimes at church, some of the churches I visit, I wonder if the moms really understand the model they're setting for their daughters.  But then I think you have to do what Teresa has done, and you have to take the step of saying, "You know what?  I want to stop griping about all the clothing that is so immodest, and we're going to create our own island of clarity, and that really is what you've done, Teresa, and I just applaud you, and I want to challenge the moms who are listening.  Go to FamilyLife.com, and we're going to have just a brief outline of how Teresa put this event together there and how a mom could have one of these in her backyard.

[laughter]

Bob: Or at Steinmart – you did the second one in your church, right?

Teresa: Yes.

Bob: And you had hundreds of girls show up for that.  You had a Christian band come in and do a concert afterwards.  You made a huge event out of it.

Teresa: We really wanted the girls to just remember the day and to make it memorable for them – not just to go to a fashion show and then walk away and kind of forget.  We really wanted it to just be engraved in their heart.

Bob: But the point is, you can pick your location, you can find a place, but any mom can do this, right?

Teresa: I really encourage moms, and I think with the first one, that's really what I wanted.  I really wanted to encourage the moms that were there to go into their own churches and to do the same thing.  It isn't difficult.  Communities really will back you up.  It is amazing to see how many moms really are searching for help, because they don't want to be the bad guy to tell their daughter, "No, you can't wear that.  It's not appropriate," and they really don't know why it isn't appropriate, because maybe they grew up wearing something similar.                But I do, I encourage the moms to go into their churches and to do their own show.

Dennis: And I'd encourage the dads who are listening, who are grousing about all the belly buttons that they have to deal with as they go to work or have recreation – come alongside your wife and help her host this like Danny did with Teresa.  He got her into trouble, and then he helped her out, you know?  Danny's a pretty good guy when you really get down to it.

Bob: He nudged her, but then he was there to help you out, wasn't he?

Teresa: He was.

Bob: When it came to crunch time for putting the show on.  And, again, we've got information on our website about how a mom can do this.  In fact, Dannah, in the kit you've put together, the Secret Keeper Power Pack, there is a DVD that shows one of the fashion shows that you've done that's a modesty fashion show.  So if a mom wants to get an idea on what one of these looks like, she can watch the DVD that's a part of the Secret Keeper Power Pack.  There is also a daily devotional for a girl to go through, and there is a copy of the book, "Secret Keeper," that reinforces these modesty ideas for a daughter.

 You can get more information about what's in the Secret Keeper Power Pack on our website at FamilyLife.com along with other resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife designed to help promote the idea of modesty.  Go to our website, FamilyLife.com.  In the middle of the page, you'll see "Today's Broadcast."  You click the button that says "Go," it's a red button right there in the middle of the screen.  That will take you to the page where you can find out more about the resources we have available.  In fact, you may remember a few weeks ago when Vicki Courtney was on our program, and we talked about the magazine that she has created for girls called "Teen Virtue."  We have copies of that still available in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  And if you wanted to get Dannah's Secret Keeper Power Pack and the "Teen Virtue" magazine, we can send you at no additional cost the CD audio for our visit here with Dannah Gresh and Teresa Coelho.

 Again, go to our website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button on the screen that says "Go," and you'll get more information on all of these resources and additional resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife Today.  You can also contact us by phone at 1-800-FLTODAY, if that's easier for you.  Someone on our team is available, an they can help you have any of these resources sent out to you.  Again, it's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  And don't be surprised when you do get in touch with us if somebody asks you "What are the call letters of the station on which you hear FamilyLife Today?"  We want to make sure that we keep our records up to date and that we know who is listening where so that we can be good stewards of the financial resources that are entrusted to us, and we can make sure that the syndication costs associated with this program are fully covered.

 And, to that end, if you can help us with a donation for the ministry of FamilyLife Today, you will help make sure that this program stays on in your city and in cities all across the country.  We are listener-supported, and we depend on those donations, so thanks for whatever you can do to help with those costs, and we appreciate hearing from you, and it's always nice to know that FamilyLife Today is having an impact in your marriage and in your family.

 And we want to invite you to be back with us tomorrow.  We are going to continue to talk about moms and daughters and modesty and what we can do to help all of us be a little more counter-cultural on this subject.  I hope you can be 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.  Have a great day, and we'll see you back tomorrow 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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