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Here Comes “Girls Gone Mild”

October 2, 2007

Jeff Robinson looks at the new modesty movement.

Newsweek magazine recently reported on a growing revolution that is sending a decidedly counter-cultural message to women: beauty and virtue are found in modesty. 

The movement is gaining momentum largely through Wendy Shalit's book Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good and her corresponding websiteEliza, a recently launched modesty fashion magazine published by model and actress Summer Bellessa, is also contributing to the movement.

Penna Dexter recently touted the movement as a welcome backlash:  "The modesty movement is about much more than clothing, although dress is a sort of bellwether. Paul, in 1 Timothy 2:9, instructs women to dress in ‘modest clothing, with decency and good sense,'" Dexter writes. "It's unrealistic to minimize the impact and importance of fashion. The truth is most females love clothes. The ‘mild' girls are not rejecting the trampy look in favor of the drab denim jumper. Modesty and glamour are not mutually exclusive."

Likewise, 1 Peter 3:3-4 instructs women that clothing should mirror a pure heart. "Your adornment must not be merely external-braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

As Mary Mohler and Carolyn Mahaney have pointed out, the twenty-first century hookup culture has deemed such calls for modesty as an oppressive return to a puritanical age. Penna Dexter agrees, "Some feminists call this modesty revival a new kind of oppression. The mild girls will tell you it's liberating."

I am encouraged to see the backlash against "Girls Gone Wild." An exclusively external view of women undermines their dignity as valuable human beings made in the image of God. May God give believers the wisdom and the grace to uphold Scripture's call to holiness in every aspect of life so that we will adorn the gospel well. 

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