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Teens blend style, self-respect at fashion event



Nineteen volunteers modeled teen fashions from Dillard’s for the event, and others offered tips on skin care. Speakers and door prizes also were featured, Locke said.
The program also served as part of Barrett’s Gold Award project, the highest rank a Girl Scout senior scout can achieve. It is comparable to the Boy Scout’s Eagle Award.
“I think the average girl is interested in fashion, wants to be liked and look pretty,” said Barrett, 16, a junior honor student at David Lipscomb High School in Nashville.
“But that can bring some problems because a lot of the world’s definition of fashion doesn’t necessarily fit in with what is modest and respectable,” said Barrett, who emceed the style show.
Initially, the idea for the program came from Locke as she watched hundreds of teens at a Christian youth conference last spring. Despite the event’s focus on a virtuous lifestyle, the clothing many teens wore disturbed Locke.
She began planning a fashion show to prove to young people that they could look stylish and cute without giving up Christian principles.
“It’s so frustrating,” Locke said. “When parents go out to buy clothes for their kids, what they can find are clothes that are too short, too revealing or they look too old.
“Clothing manufacturers don’t care. They just want to sell sex.”
Helping teens learn how to dress appropriately can fuel family feuds.
“You have to set their mindset early for wearing appropriate clothing,” Locke said. “It’s a fight you have to fight, whether you want to or not.”
Locke arranged for Dale Thomas Smith, a professional motivational speaker, to talk to the girls about the powerful impact of clothing and actions on self-respect and on earning others’ respect.
Thomas’ regular fee is $5,000, but Locke said that when she described the event’s purpose and asked her to participate, the former beauty queen gladly waived her fee.
Jane Thomas, a Concord Road member, thought the style show was “a very positive” experience for the church, visitors from the community and for her daughter, McCarley Thomas, who modeled in the show.
“I think one of the biggest challenges modern parents face is helping children understand that their body is a temple, and God expects you to honor that temple,” Jane Thomas said.
She believes that dressing modestly and appropriately encourages a positive self-image and promotes healthy relationships.
“People have a better chance of getting to know you if they don’t get distracted by what you are wearing,” Jane Thomas said.
McCarley Thomas, 13, believes that today girls feel strong pressure to present themselves publicly in a sexualized way.
“You feel like you have to dress like the people in magazines and TV programs to be ‘in,’” said Thomas, a seventh-grader at David Lipscomb Middle School.
“This show helped me realize how you can be modest and fashionable and cute, ” she said. “You just have to look at it with a Christian mindset and a positive attitude.”
Scanning the evaluation forms for the show, Barrett said they were very positive. “I think this is going to have a big impact on the people who came,” she said.
And on church members as well: Concord Road’s elders already have asked the women to host another fashion show next year.
Sept. 3, 2007

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