Friday, October 26, 2007

Last Teen Week Interview!

Today we have our final guest, Shari Braendel. Shari is our resident wardrobe consultant and fashion expert at P31 and most importantly, she is one of my dearest friends! She loves me even though I am somewhat of a hopeless fashion case, as I choose comfort and quick over fashion and image most days! (But that is a post for another time...)

Hi Shari-- thanks for stopping by! Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

Thanks so much for having me! I am on the Proverbs 31 speaker team and I travel and speak to women and girls regarding the topics "What Not to Wear" and "Modesty" for girls and teens. I am the wife of an amazing servant hearted husband, Dave (he does all the cooking and grocery shopping!) and I am mom to son, Luke who will be 13 in December and is a middle-schooler at Hickory Grove Christian School and I also have triplet step-daughters, Carly, Kimmy, and Jessie...who are all graduated from college and in the working world now!

What led you to working with teen girls?

All God, for sure. When I first became a Christian in my late twenties, I felt God whisper to my heart to go to a teen shelter and volunteer to lead the girls in a bible study. All I knew was fashion, so I didn't think I'd be such a good volunteeer! But I went anyway! I had become part of a new bible study group and they bought student bibles for me to take to the girls (now remember, I was a BRAND NEW believer at this point...a few weeks old!) so I had something to give the girls and read from. The first week I went to the shelter, there were about 20 girls who just sat and stared at me. But I won them over when I told them I'd come back the next week and give them all makeovers! So this is how it went, one week I'd do a short bible study and have discussion time, the next week I'd do makeovers, the following week another bible study, the week after that I'd do an impromptu fashion show with them from clothes I'd get donated....and that's how God got me started working with teens! I just showed up and tried to be obedient. (Note to anyone feeling like God is whispering something to you for you to do, don't keep it to yourself...I had no idea what shelter, where one might be located or even how to lead a bible study. But I told the others in my bible study and the doors just started opening...I walked thru them one door at a time.)

What issues/concerns/questions do you hear most often from the girls?

The thing I hear most often is they don't feel good about how they look. They also don't know how to shop for clothes because everything out there is so low cut and tight fitting. They want to fit in but don't know how to do it. Lots of teens I meet have a pretty low self esteem because they are trying to compete with others, whether it's with their looks, their clothes, boys, etc. and they just don't feel like they will ever be good enough in any area.

What do the girls seem to think about being modest?

You know, it is either completely one way or the other. There are lots of Christian girls who want to be modest but didn't realize the effect they were having on the opposite sex by the way they were dressing. Then I see the exact opposite...Christian (or not) teens who think they HAVE to dress with low cut jeans and tight tops so the boys will notice them, I see this at every event I do. I just saw a girl yesterday at my son's school with low cut jeans and her tummy and back showing, walking and giggling with the guys. Now this is a Christian school. I wanted to get out of my car and say don't have to dress like that to get attention! I really think that when they hear they don't have to do this to get a guy's attention, they begin to think differently about themselves.

Do you think there is hope for teens to be modest and hottest? How?

YES! I see it every weekend....when girls come up to me after the Modest is Hottest fashion shows and say they just didn't realize how they were dressing affected the boys. I produced a video with 6 boys and asked them questions about what they think when they see girls dressed with low cut jeans, bellies showing, tight tops, low cut tops, etc. I show this at every Modest is Hottest event and you would not believe the response from the girls afterward. I also get lots of e-mails from Moms saying how differently their daughters are thinking now. Believe me, God gets all the credit for this because he knocked me over the head to get me to do these fashion shows! I am so grateful I get to be a participant in His plan...and lucky for me, God knew girls love a fashion show! Fashion doesn't have to be about showing your body parts. A girl (and her mom) can look fashionable, cute and in-style and on-trend without showing all!

What tips do you give moms who want to connect with their daughters over fashion, but are concerned about the way they dress?

First of all, if the way your daughter is dressing is not "sin" then let it go. In saying that, I want to be clear to say as long as they are following the 5 B's of modest dressing, then they are okay. But alot of moms want their daughters to dress to their standards and girls have their own idea of what makes them feel good in their clothes. It's a battle you don't want to fight cause you will lose one way or another. You may get your daughter to dress the way you want, but you'll lose something in the process...a breakdown will occur because your daughter won't think you understand. My best advice would be to go shopping with her, find out what she likes, if it isn't breaking any rules, (No bustline/cleaveage showing, No bellies, No bottoms (too tight or with words written on them), No bra straps showing, and No bubbling (as in too tight jeans and clothes), then tell her she looks beautiful and shop some more!

I have been to several of your events and I know they are fun, fun, fun! How can someone bring a Modest is Hottest fashion show to their church?

I truly LOVE doing these events...God is so good! All someone has to do is call my office (or Proverbs 31) and I will send out my CD and pricing info with available dates. I do these at not only churches but Christian schools, too! This event is usually done on a friday night but many of the churches are using this opportunity to combine the women's ministry area with the youth area and are hosting a great mother/daughter event for a weekend retreat whereas I do the Modest is Hottest event for the girls and their moms on Friday night and then Saturday is focused on all the other women in the church, including the moms...the weekend is called The Real Beauty Retreat! My website is or feel free to call my office at 704 597-2619. Thanks for having me, know how much I adore you!

Girl, you know I adore you too!! Thanks so much for giving us some insight into how we can help our daughters be modest and hottest. I know the heart of every woman (young or old) is to feel treasured and beautiful. I am so blessed to know someone who spends her life helping women discover how to do just that, inside and out.

(Be sure to go to this page (scan down to about halfway down) to watch a video Shari uses to show girls that even the models they emulate are not what they seem to be! It's an eye-opening video, and one you ought to have your daughter watch!)
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