Dear Parent/Caring Adult,
For several years I worked as the Production Manager for a fashion show for teens. My family and friends thought it was hilarious. It was. I don't necessarily consider myself a fashion guru. I'm more a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy. I didn't accept the position because I was fashionable or because I loved going shopping with teen girls (30 young ladies at the mall is terrifying, by the way). I loved the job because it gave me an opportunity to help teens discover their own style and boost their confidence. They discovered that dressing modestly didn't mean hiding everything or wearing a giant sweater but that it was more about eliminating distractions and letting their inner beauty shine.
One of my favorite questions to ask my cast was this...
"If your body was a billboard, what would you be advertising?"
As a parent, you may have said "What in the world are you wearing?" at some point. Getting our kids to understand the messaging that our clothing portrays is a valuable lesson. Now, I'm not saying that it's important to have the best designer brand or that you should even look prim and proper every time you walk out the door. My point is simply that we understand that how we present ourselves effects our reputation and offers a window into who we are.
I would encourage you to talk with your kids, especially your teens about what they are wearing. Ask them about their style and let them explore their dress a bit. Through this exploration they will start to learn more about their look and their style. They may discover that their dyed hair doesn't go well or that the low cut shirt attracts the wrong kind of attention. It's all part of the process. You can provide some great encouragement, set some boundaries, and simply hang on for the ride.
BONUS: My Prom Dress Checklist for Dad's
I have had the privilege of serving as a guardian for a teen girl. Here's the checklist that her prom dress had to pass. Dads, feel free to use it with your daughters.
1. You want to spend your night having fun, not constantly fixing your dress. Check to make sure that the top isn't too low, the bottom isn't too high, and that it stays in place by itself.
2. Make sure that the dress that you pick makes you feel cute and comfortable. Just don't look too cute. I don't want the boys getting too comfortable.
3. Ribbon can be added to make straps for a strapless dress or you can wear a shawl to cover your shoulders. It may get cold at the end of the night. Plan ahead by picking a 'cover' that will look good with your dress.
4. If it makes him say "DANG!", it's the wrong dress.
5. Remember that you'll be dancing all night. You should be able to move around in your dress without it causing issues. Check that it's not too short when you bend and no one can see anything as you're dancing, bending.
6. Know that no matter what dress you choose, you'll look beautiful. I can't wait for your prom pictures and to hear what an amazing night it was. I love you.
Love is not self-seeking
Jeff Veley loves talking with teens about dating, healthy relationships, and sexual risk avoidance. He's best known for his ability to address these topics to diverse audiences with humor a bold dose of truth. He is a certified trainer and facilitator of Safe Dates, an evidence-based curriculum which focuses on dating abuse and forming healthy relationships. To learn more about Jeff speaking to your group, click here.