Quick Query: Does it "Take a Village?"

Today, we went to the mall, so I could get a new eyeglass prescription (my eyes have gotten worse over the last year, as they have with each additional pregnancy). And yes, I went to a mall optometrist.

Anyway, while looking around the food court, I noticed two VERY underdressed teenage girls. SO over-the-top (or should I say, SO under-the-behind) that I almost said something. I really had to restrain myself.

Here's something along the lines of what I might have said:
"Hi ladies; I just wanted to ask you if you had ever considered that the clothes you're wearing not only entice the 17- and 19-year-old guys you're interested in, but that your clothes and bodies on display also entice 57-year-old men, like that one sitting right over there watching everyone walk past (while pointing to an unattractive, slothful but observant old man)? It's something to consider the next time you get dressed to come to the mall."

With the way today's world works, there aren't the same built-in societal restraints that we had when we were kids. 

For one thing, my parents weren't dropping me off at the mall to walk around by myself. For another, I could never have worn cut-just-under-the-tush shorts. For another, even if I COULD have somehow snuck around to buy them and get them to the mall, I would have never had the guts to actually put them on, for fear that I'd run into someone who knew me. I feared running into an adult from church, or one of my old school teachers. I knew that dressing like a tramp would make people see me as one, and I had enough sense (and an overall fear of people finding out) that kept me from underdressing.
SO, in light of all this, my question for you today is this:

DOES it "take a village" to help raise a child (as Ms. Clinton once suggested)? 

Should I have said something? 

Do we have the right (or even the obligation) to say something in situations like these? To remind young people that there are societal standards?

No multiple options for this "quick query" ... I just want to hear from you!


Jennifer said...

Oh Jess-

Great question! I agree that the girls should not have been wearing those clothes. It drives me crazy when my girls see teenagers dressed like that and then think that is "cool". I limit TV but it's hard to limit "real life". I'm not sure what you should have done. I am going to think about it and get back to you tonight.


dcrmom said...

I would never say something in such a situation. But what you witnessed is, unfortunately, a pretty common sight.

Bobbie Diaz said...

Hi Jess
If you EVER see my daughters anywhere, not dressed according to our standards, please say something, even if they are married, then tell me. :)


Even if you had said something to the mall girls, they probably would have told you, where to get off. How sad, that old guy could be a monster.

sealjoy said...


I understand your plight. I have seen too many girls wearing just about nothing and even ones with words like "sweetness", "sexy" and "bunny" on it.

The sad thing is saying something to these girls would have little impact on them. I don't think you should hold your tongue though.

In my evangelism class that I am taking not saying anything would be taking the mute approach. The problem with that is this: How will they know if we don't tell them?

How did the cripple know that it was his sins and unbelief that kept him from walking? Jesus told him, "your sins are forgiven you, take your bed and walk"

We have to be willing to put ourselves in uncomfortable, and unappealing positions in order to make even the smallest impact.

I used to be like those girls, constantly flaunting what I had. I would even defend it as my right to wear what I wanted. It wasn't until God brought someone to tell me how it affected others that I decided to change.

I thought I was the only one affected by how I dressed, but in retrospect, I affected and probably cause lots of Christian men to stumble and think ungodly things because of my style choices.

Clothing is one of many things in our lives we take for granted as having an impact on people, but then we also see it played up in the work place as an important stepping stone. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. The same can be said to those girls, dress for the man you want to attract, not attract the men you don't want.

This is just my opinion.


Janel said...

The clothes are just an outward sign of a much bigger inward problem. If you can't nail the heart of the problem, you won't be able to make inroads for change - especially in a total stranger.

Although lack salvation is the ultimate problem, it might not be "the" reason they are currently seeking the attention. How is their relationship with their dad? Why are they looking for attention? etc., etc.

IF I could engage them in conversation like Jesus did with the woman at the well and grab their hearts so they see the problem, the need and the Gospel, not just point out they are dressed inappropriately, then yes, I would do it.

What you mentioned you might say doesn't strike me as that, but it's water under the bridge and definately something to pray about.

I found your blog last week and have enjoyed it. Thanks!

Sheila said...

I'm new here, and I really appreciate your perspective on things, Jess.
It makes a big difference, our response, if the offending people (in this case, the underdressed girls) are professing Christians. We have an obligation to bring our brothers and sisters "back," so to speak. (Though this at the same time doesn't give us a license to condemn, it is a God-mandated responsibility.) I personally am a chicken when it comes to confrontation, though God is pretty faithful to prick our hearts if He wants us to speak.
That being said, what about total strangers? Your unsaid response could, indeed, be what they needed to hear, though I agree with Bobbie, they may well have told you off. But, that doesn't mean the words wouldn't sink in long after you're gone...

Kim said...

I do think part of it is just plain old peer pressure. I remember in high school wanting to dress in the cute clothes my friends wore, but being the wrong size, and uncomfortable with my body, I often ended up in the more modest and appropriate choice.

All that said - I often wish I was brave enough to go up to "those" girls and say something. Girls dress like that in our church. It disgusts me. But I am too chicken to do anything about it. So I do think if you said something, you would not be out of place.

And who knows? Your gentle comment might change their perspective, or at least give them some!

CappuccinoLife said...

Well, I'm not sure I'd agree with Mrs. Clintons concept of "a village"--I have a very strong feeling I'd completely disagree. ;)

But I do believe that we have lost a very important part of life--community. A few generations ago you would have been *expected* to say something. Now, you might find yourself attacked by a "mother bear" who took offense at your "judgement" of her daughters.

There are many times I've wanted to say something, but never had the guts to do so. :(

EmmyJMommy said...

I have had to really sit down and think about my thoughts on this. My daughter is 6 years old, and I already struggle with what she should wear. We are trying to help her make correct decisions in modesty. I discuss with her what we buy, why we buy certain things and why we don't buy certain things. We made a decision when she was 3 not to let her wear 2 piece bathing suits anymore because we wanted her to understand that it was revealing too much of her body to people. So, now when we are looking at bathing suits she doesn't even look at 2 piece ones...she knows. We also struggle with "spaghetti" straps on outfits. We stopped letting her wear them about 1 year ago, explaining to her that as she gets older there are certain things she cannot wear because of the way they either expose skin or fit on the body. We still struggle with the "spaghetti" straps because even though she is 6 years old, she is small enough to fit into a size 4 or 5...and there are some really cute outfits out there...but we try to stay diligent to our rules.

It is a struggle when seeing young teenagers and young women out and about that are dressed inappropriately. I, like Jess, struggle not to say something to these girls, especially when they are with someone who I believe is their mother/grandmother. I want to ask that adult what they think they are permitting when letting their young person dress like that...to tempt older men, to give the idea to others that it is okay to reveal so much...I even get irrate over places like Victoria Secrets that pretty much allow pornography in their store windows...but I must digress.

I hope that gives you a little insight in my struggles and thoughts with dressing...


P.S. Sorry it is sooo long!

Andrea said...

I have not read anyone's responses yet, so forgive me if mine is similar.
I think it *does* take a village. The nuclear family, the extended family are first responsible. Close friends and church friends should join in. Does this realistically happen *all* the time. Well, no, but it is a good ideal.
Today we have issues of people not wanting you to "butt in on their personal freedoms". So it makes it harder to raise children in the *village model*. But I still think it's neccesary.
All in all we should look at Jesus. In many instances, He prized relationship before rebuke. To go up to girls in the mall and say something to them like that probably would cause them to recoil and close their ears. SAid to them by a person who obviously cares about them is another thing. So, no I don't think you are obligated, but if you really are convicted about those young ladies, then it's relationship first. How that would work out practically with those ladies is another thing!! God can do anything, though. ;)

The Humble Housewife said...

I feel the exact same way Jess! I have two girls and would be appalled if they ever dressed like that, but it certainly wouldn't happen on my watch! Already some of the outfits out there for TODDLERS are just disgraceful!

As for saying something I don't think it would have done much good. If they were with parents though, perhaps saying something to the parents might have worked.

There are so many sick people out there today ready to prey on innocent children and most parents are all too aware of that - unfortunately that awkward teenage psychology believes their parents love is an attack on their personal freedom.

I know we will have a tough road ahead... I remember my own teenage years and how rough it must have been for my parents... I just hope you're still blogging then - your posts inspire me so much!