Despite bombardment by the media on young females to enhance their sex appeal, fashion and image, recent news reports claim that that pre-teen and teen girls are opting for more modest wear.
As of late, young girls have been feverishly attempting to dress like favourite Hollywood and MTV celebrities. These women, with their ultra-thin, ultra-tight, ultra-low styles, set a high “sex” standard for girls to follow.
According to one report, during a recent shopping trip to the American department store Nordstrom, 11-year-old Ella Gunderson became frustrated when she was unable to find decent clothing. She saw low hip-hugger jeans and skin-tight tops complying with the celebrity standard. Taking action, she wrote a letter to Nordstrom chain executives based in Seattle. “I see all of these girls who walk around with pants that show their belly button and underwear,” she wrote. “Your clerks suggest that there is only one look. If that is true, then girls are supposed to walk around half-naked.”
According to a report by Margaret Wente in the February Globe and Mail, the indecent exposure of young women in society is contributing to the outbreak of deviant sexual behaviour in the school system. As she stated, “When the entire culture is telling little girls to be not only sexually precocious, but hyper-sexed, is it any wonder that deviant behaviour is now mainstream?”
Wente continued: “Instead of guarding our daughters’ virginity, we (should) teach them empowerment and self-respect. Now, they think empowerment means being the sexiest little boy-toy on the block. So much for a generation of feminism.”
A new pregnancy-prevention plan initiated in the United States, A Pause, is based on the idea of empowering girls with self-respect and assertiveness when it comes to their sexuality, dress attire included. Anne Kingston, with the National Post, reports that the program teaches girls to be educated, rather than to be sexy or modest: “Information is power, particularly when it permits girls to understand that they own their sexuality, that they can be sexual but not have sex. After all, what you value, you don’t squander. What you own, you don’t sell cheaply.”
It is this idea that is enabling girls to begin to fight back against the mainstream culture of revealing clothes. The National Post reports that for some of these girls, religion is the ultimate reason why they are demanding more modest fashions. For others, it is simply a backlash against the mainstream norms and fashion trends.
CBSNews.com reports that Tina Wells, the 24-year-old chief executive of Buzz Marketing, a New Jersey-based firm that gathers information from teens, predicts kids are going to start looking like monks. She comments, “Kids are going to say, ‘Enough already.'”
This trend has already begun, with new websites and fashion lines being launched, providing preteens and teens with a modest alternative to today’s racy clothing. ModestApparelUSA.com and ModestByDesign.com are reporting rapidly increasing sales. The new line by Hillary Duff, a young teen celebrity, sold through Zellers, is also enjoying success. When the line was launched, Duff told reporters, “Looking good and being trendy shouldn’t mean showing off a lot of skin.”In response to the letter sent Ella Gunderson, Nordstrom executives promised they would try to provide a greater variety of fashion for young girls and women. A similar situation occurred in 2002, when a group of teens in Arizona sent a petition to Dillard’s department store in Phoenix, also demanding more modesty in their fashion. Shortly after receiving the petition, the department store chain began carrying more conservative styles. The push is beginning for more modest fashions, and the girls seem to willingly follow.