“Ms. Shannon, why are you wearing those shoes with that dress?” Kariss sketched her first “look book” at the age of four, sending her drawings for her ideal fall outfits to her grandmother, along with color selections and sizes. It was about that time she stopped letting me put bows and other adornments in her hair and insisted on styling it herself. Once school started and SSA (Standardized School Attire) was required, she balked at the conformity and still found a way to make each day’s outfit uniquely her own. Even now in junior high, the one piece of clothing she’s allowed to express herself with is her socks and she has quite the collection of knee socks she shows off with her varying styles of Converse hi-tops each day.
I’ve always marveled at how she’s embraced her unique style, but I have never completely understood where it came from.
In fact, while I was writing this article, my daughter happened to be sitting next to me drawing in her sketchbook, so I casually asked her, “How would you describe your sense of style today?” Without even a moment of hesitation, she responded, “Unique with an edge,” to which she quickly added, “and Marvel sweatshirts.” Where did she get that definition? Definitely not from me. But even though we’ve never seen eye to eye when it comes to fashion and style, I’ve never stifled her. Instead, I’ve provided parameters for her to express herself within. From my experience, teen and tween girls dress to dress within three categories:
1. Express Their Personality: They truly love fashion and find a way to make their clothes become a true extension of themselves in an appropriate way.
2. Rebel Against Authority: They don’t like being told what to do and find ways to “stick it” to authority figures (parents, teachers, etc) by dressing in the exact opposite way expected of them, even if they wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards that style.
3. Fit In: These girls have at one point or another been told their sense of style isn’t good enough or “cool enough” so they go to extreme lengths to fit in with everyone else and not stand out. In the new book “Liked” by Kari Kampakis, she tells girls,
“The real you is better than the false you. Be true to yourself. What people say about you is opinion. What God says about you is fact. The way to know your worth is to focus on the facts.”
Too often we allow the opinions of others to outweigh the facts from God.
And in an era where our young girls are quicker than ever to define themselves by likes and comments on social media rather than listen to what we try to instill in them as parents, it’s more important than ever to point them to the truths of God’s word. As Kari says, “At the end of the day, only two questions matter: “Am I pleasing God?” and “Do I like who I’m becoming?” To make this more tangible, Kari offers five ways to cultivate the real you:
1. Focus on what money can’t buy
2. Look for light
3. Leave free time in your schedule
4. Invest in friends who like the real you
5. Choose an accountability partner
As moms, it’s ultimately up to us to model these principles for our daughters.
If we are sending them mixed messages about identity through our words and actions, the natural confusion within our daughters will only continue to grow.
However, if we truly embody the love of the Lord while embracing our own unique style, our daughters will grow up doing the same.
So go on mom, let go of your expectations and allow your daughter to express herself while still living in the light and love of the Lord. YOUR TURN!
How are you helping your daughter embrace her unique style? Check out, Liked, the new, best-selling book from Kari Kampakis.