Are Moms Responsible For The Way Their Daughters Dress?

A five-year-old post about modesty and girls went viral, generating more than 1 million reads

The original blog by Shelly Wildman was posted in March 2011 and titled “How Your Daughter Dresses Matters,” and referenced a Wall Street Journal column from around the same time that also dealt with the issue. “[I]t’s been an interesting week,” Wildman wrote Thursday.

 

A Chicago-area author and blogger learned the power of social media this week when a five-year-old post about modesty and girls went viral, generating more than 1 million reads and sparking pushback against a column that would be considered tame in most conservative circles.

The original blog by Shelly Wildman was posted in March 2011 and titled “How Your Daughter Dresses Matters,” and referenced a Wall Street Journal column from around the same time that also dealt with the issue.

“[I]t’s been an interesting week,” Wildman wrote Thursday.

Wildman has three daughters and in her 2011 column said she has had many battles about modesty in her home. She bemoaned the notion that “probably 80%” of clothes in stores are not appropriate for girls to wear and that girls everywhere – at school and even at church – are dressing immodestly.

She included a quote from the writer of the Wall Street Journal column that read: “We wouldn’t dream of dropping our daughters off at college and saying: ‘Study hard and floss every night, honey—and for heaven’s sake, get laid!’ But that’s essentially what we’re saying by allowing them to dress the way they do while they’re still living under our own roofs.”

“Think about that,” Wildman wrote. “If, as mothers (or fathers!), we’re encouraging our daughters to dress inappropriately, that’s basically what we’re saying. At the very least we’re saying, ‘Here’s my daughter. She’s on display. Take a good, long, hard look at her.’ Ugh. The thought of anyone looking at any of my daughters inappropriately just makes my skin crawl.”

Wildman said she worked with junior high girls at church and told them that “dressing a certain way attracts a certain kind of guy.”

“I doubt very seriously that the kind of guy you want to attract is the kind of guy you’re dressing for when you dress like that,” she said she tells them. “Besides, you are above that. You are better than that. You deserve better than that. So dress for the guy you deserve.”

Wildman concluded her 2011 column by encouraging moms “to see your daughter as the precious gift she is and to help her see herself that way too.”

“It is my prayer that we can encourage our daughters to reflect the image that God has of her—one that loves her completely and loves her enough to give up His life for her,” Wildman wrote. “She’s that important. She’s that special. Let’s help her to reflect that image to the world.”

But not everyone agreed with Wildman’s column. In addition to more than 1 million reads, the column also attracted 174 new comments. (She did not make all of them live.)

One woman wrote, “The way some of you are commenting, it sounds like if there was a case of rape, you’d blame the woman based on how she was dressed. Sad. BOYS HAVE TO BE TAUGHT TOO!!!”

Wildman, in her Thursday post, said some readers were missing the point of the original column.

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