My oldest is set to graduate grade eight in about four months (no wait… 3 – ahhh!). So, we’ve been dress shopping. What should be a lot of fun has turned into a modest mom’s nightmare.
The addiction of allure
Ladies, you know when your guy gives you that look. You know that look. It still makes your knees go a little weak. When you realize that he finds you sexy despite the fact that you’re not wearing any makeup, your hair is a mess, and you haven’t had any coffee yet. When he puts his arms around you to let you know that he’s thinking about you, or that little grin he wears when you put effort into looking good and he notices. You can almost see the thought go through his head — she’s mine, I still can’t believe it.
The counterfeit allure
How we longed for that as teens and young adults. For a guy to look, to notice, to want us, to think we were the most beautiful creature he’d ever beheld. What did you wear, what did you stoop to, to get that attention?
As a teen I felt less clothing would always get me more attention, tighter clothes would always get guys to look, and an impish grin and a little flirting never hurt anyone. And I got exactly what I was looking for. But, it was always shallow attention and never what I really longed for — even though I didn’t even know exactly what it was I longed for. The whistles and winks, long stares and comments puffed up my ego – my pride, but left me feeling a little dirty.
The real thing
I asked the hubs what he remembered about meeting me for the first time. I was 19. We were at a club meeting at university. It was my first year, I was 2500km from home, didn’t know anyone else, and my introverted self was desperate to meet people so I volunteered to share with the large group about my summer. I was wearing this massive bulky-knit sweater (the ones from Ecuador or Peru that were popular in the 90′s), my hair in a pony, jeans and sneakers. See, I was in this quasi long-distance relationship and didn’t want to be noticed in that way, so didn’t dress for it.
The hubs hardly remembers what I was wearing (other than that crazy sweater), but remembers most of what I shared. He thought I was funny, smart, that we had a shared interest, and that I was cute. Weird, right. Totally flew in the face of what I thought I needed to do to get noticed.
I interviewed a youth pastor for an article a while ago, and he shared with me the advice he gives the girls in his church. “What you win him with is what you win him to.” Powerful advice. The reason those macho comments and stares felt hollow was because they were. Compared to the looks I get from the hubs, that teenage attention now feels more like a hasty grope in the dark.
Shopping For Modesty
My daughter and I are shopping for grad dresses amongst the prom glitter and glam, and are really struggling to find something age appropriate. It’s almost impossible to find something modest. She’s not comfortable wearing some cleavage bursting, barely butt-covering satin-sequined-glittered creation that’s so tight there’s nothing left to the imagination. The prom dresses I’ve seen look more suited for clubbing than a formal night out.
My daughter tries on these short, tight, strapless things and she stoops, hides behind her hair, won’t even look at me. So, at great risk to the budget, we went to a high end store and looked at gowns instead. We found this dress <– (though it’s still a little low cut), and the transformation in her posture was astounding. She felt beautiful in it, and it showed. With some tailoring, this dress could be the one.
It’s so much fun being a girl. Trying on dresses and choosing shoes and jewelry, deciding on makeup and hair styles. But, I want her to wear something that makes her feel beautiful and confident.
She lives in blue jeans and cotton t-shirts. She’s more comfortable in riding breeches and a stable, than in a dress in polite society, and that’s totally OK. She shouldn’t give a second thought to what any guy might think, because the right guy, the guy with good intentions and a warm heart, isn’t interested in the girl looking to get attention. The right guy will see her crouched over a horse’s neck flying over an oxer, or in rubber boots mucking out a horse stall — and find her absolutely captivating just as she is.
In my opinion, so many of these skimpy prom and grad dresses aren’t worn to make a girl feel beautiful. Girls wear those dresses as a tool to get noticed, to garner those looks, and then bases her self-worth on her ability to get that attention. But it’s the all-kinds-of-wrong attention.
Do you remember meeting your significant other? What drew you to them? Do you think modesty is important or do you think I’m old-fashioned?
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I’ll be teaching a workshop at WANA Con (an online writer’s conference) on February 23. WANA Con runs Feb. 22 & 23. You can attend the whole weekend, or just a day. Recordings will be available for the sessions you’re unable to attend.