“Modest is Hottest”

Hi Joel,

I’ve been thinking about Melanie Springer Mock’s post this week about the unsurprising result of the mixed messages we (US culture broadly and conservative Christian culture in particular) send to girls.  I think that, if you don’t witness it first hand (like, if it’s not targeted at you), it can be hard to see. Like, what’s wrong with requiring your child to wear shorts that are bigger than her underpants or saying no eye makeup during elementary school?

Then, you see this stuff. I found it on an endcap at a CAMPING AND MILITARY SURPLUS STORE. So not at a Christian bookstore or homeschooling supply store.

The photo picture (sorry for the fuzziness!) is of a set of six stickers. Each is a T-shirt. Half of them say “I [heart] Modest Girls!” and the others say “Modest Girls are the Hottest Girls!”

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Who these are for isn’t quite clear to me. The “I [heart] Modest Girls!” t-shirts are in yellow, baby blue, and pink, and it’s the pink, in particular (and the heart, too) that makes me think they might be for girls. It could be that modest girls love other modest girls.

The “Modest Girls are the Hottest Girls!” t-shirts are in red, lime green, and white. Nothing gendered about those colors, so they could be for girls or boys. But who describes girls as “hot”? Boys, right? And this division would mean that each sticker set has stickers aimed at boys and ones aimed at girls–perfect for use in a mixed-gender children’s Sunday School classroom.

It’s that “Modest Girls are the Hottest Girls!” that is (at least part of) the reason why Christian girls can’t catch a break. They have to be modest. But also hot. They have to have self-confidence, but that self-confidence is based on the approval of others (especially boys).

And what does that sticker say about boys? That they are here to judge girls.

As a parent of both sons and a daughter, I feel pretty sensitive to these messages, but I’m not sure I would see them if I were parenting ONLY boys. And that’s because I don’t see them appear very often in situations where boys are the focus.

Parents of boys–do you see them? Parents of girls–how do you counter them?


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