Girls flirt too much. They worry about their hair and makeup all the time. They like you one day and ignore you the next. They send out conflicting signals and change moods with the weather.
And what’s with their clothes? Skimpy tank tops and jeans so low they reveal way too much. And sometimes these are girls in church.
That’s the kind of thing that confuses guys like 18-year-old Mike Newcomb of Butler, Pa. When he sees a girl dressed “sleazy,” the first thing he thinks is that she’s willing to jump into bed with any guy. “I know that might not be true for all girls who dress like this,” he admits, “but girls need to be careful of what they wear. It really does have an effect on what people think about them — even if it’s not true.”
Fifteen-year-old Emily TeKolste of Carmel, Ind., admits that girls are often hard to read. “What goes on inside a girl’s head is so confusing, even the girl doesn’t understand it,” she says. But when it comes to guys and dating, she insists that “a girl just wants to be respected and be in a meaningful relationship.”
If that’s true, why do girls — even some Christian girls — send out such conflicting signals? And is there any way guys can help the situation?
Believe it or not, guys can do a lot to help girls be more modest, and — impossible as it might sound — it starts with understanding what makes girls tick.
Girls Just Want to be Loved
Gail Hayesis an author and international speaker who helps women understand that they are created by God with special identity and purpose. She has a good understanding of what motivates young women to act and dress immodestly.
“Women love relationship,” Hayes says. “We thrive in the relationship realm.” She explains that God created women with a natural desire to please the opposite sex, and that desire is appropriate within God’s boundaries. But our society has perverted the natural need for relationship, and our media encourage girls who want to feel loved to use their sexuality to get attention.
That desire for attention is often expressed in a girl’s choice of clothing. Hayes says that girls have four basic needs: to be appreciated, to feel safe, to feel welcome and to feel important.
“Young girls who don’t have those needs met will dress for positive or negative attention,” she says, “as long as they get some attention.”
That means that a girl dressed in revealing clothing probably isn’t looking for sex, but simply wants a guy to notice her and make her feel important. The media has convinced her that the way to do that is to be sexy, flirtatious and immodest.
It’s All About Sex?
Girls’ magazines like Seventeen, CosmoGirl, YM and Teen People are full of articles on how to flirt, kiss and dress in the sexiest clothes in order to land a date with the hottest guy in school.
And that’s only the beginning. “Movies and television show that all relationships have to be about sex,” Emily TeKolste says. If girls think sex will give them a meaningful relationship, which is what they’re looking for, they’ll want to act sexy.
Jessica Butler, 17, of Winchester, Ind., says that she knows girls who dress immodestly because they desperately crave attention. “They are usually at the point where they will give up everything,” she says, “including their bodies, to have someone care about them.”
So if a girl really wants a meaningful relationship, but has been convinced that she needs sex to get one, what are the guys supposed to do?
Stop re-inforcing that message, says Emily, who admits that “the girls who dress immodestly will usually attract more attention from guys.”
Jessica agrees, admitting that she wages an inward battle between wanting to dress attractively and be noticed by guys, and not wanting to compromise her beliefs. “When they only stare and drool over the girls who dress provocatively,” she says, “it makes me feel as if it will take a miracle for some young man to be willing to accept my moral standards and be willing to wait for marriage.”
But while a girl wants a guy to notice her, she wants that attention in an appropriate way, says 16-year-old Beth Cannone of Ashville, N.C. “If guys wouldn’t whistle, or stare or nudge, it would be easier on me,” she admits. “It kinda makes you feel pretty in a very bad way.”
“A guy’s opinion affects the way girls think about themselves,” Beth adds. “If a guy treats me less politely than another girl, I feel worthless sometimes. I think I’m not as pretty as her, or have an ugly personality.”
Guys have more than a little influence over how girls feel about themselves, and as a result, how they act. And it all boils down to respect.
“The days of chivalry are gone, unfortunately,” laments 18-year-old Ashley Nier of Hilton, N.Y. Ashley thinks it’s time to go back to the days when it was expected that a guy would open a door for a girl or stand when a woman walked into a room. She says that a guy can also show respect if he refrains from swearing, offers to pay for a date, gives a girl his jacket on a cold night and walks her to the door after a date.
“If a guy disrespects me,” she adds, “that’s an immediate turnoff.”
But even more, being courteous to a girl will help her to see herself in a positive light and encourage her to focus on her inner beauty.
Ashley says that one of her guy friends recently told her she was a perfect example of an attractive girl. That kind of positive feedback — given when Ashley was dressed in sweats and wearing no makeup — can help a girl understand that you’re looking at her heart instead of just her body.
It basically means seeing girls through God’s eyes.
“Today’s media are telling us as guys that women were created for our enjoyment,” says Jeremy Thiessen, drummer for downhere. “How sad. We have managed to turn women, who were created in God’s image, into objects of pleasure.” Instead, Jeremy says a guy should treat a girl with respect and in a way that makes her a better, more confident person.
What a Guy Can Do
Jessica, Beth, Emily and Ashley agree, and have suggested some ways that guys can respect girls and act modestly themselves:
• Look in the girl’s eyes — not at her body — when you talk to her. Every girl interviewed listed “being ogled” as a huge sign of disrespect. “Fall in love with my heart — not my waist size, chest size, hair or eyes,” Jessica says.
• Don’t “accidentally” run into a girl, poke or punch her, or touch her anywhere without her permission. Remember what your kindergarten teacher taught you? Keep your hands to yourself.
• Don’t talk about your bodily functions in front of girls. Girls don’t care how loudly you can burp or what you do in the privacy of your bathroom. And no spitting, Ashley adds, “because that’s just gross.”
• Watch your language. The girls agree that swearing and coarse joking are total turnoffs. And call a girl by her name, Jessica adds, not some offensive slang word.
• Don’t make jokes at a girl’s expense. Lonnie Chapin, bassist for the group Tait, says, “Pull the chair out for a girl — don’t pull it out from under her!” Embarrassing a girl is never a good way to get her attention. Jessica agrees, saying, “The way a guy shows me his respect is by treating me like a human being and not like some sort of an amusement.”
• Keep your shirt on. “Guys need to know that the way they dress affects girls,” Beth says. “When guys walk around with no shirt on, it causes a similar reaction from the girl as from the guy when the girl is showing off her body. It’s called lust, and it’s a human thing.”
• Don’t just pull in the driveway and honk the horn when you pick up a date. Get out of the car and go in and meet the girl’s parents. Let them know where you’re going and when you’ll be home. Remember, she’s on “loan” from her dad for the evening.
Christian artist Todd Agnew says that it all comes down to understanding what God thinks about girls. “He loves them, protects them and desires their holiness above all else,” Todd says. “When you realize that they are His treasure, they become your [treasure] and you’ll desire to treat them the way He does.”
That means that once guys really understand what God thinks about girls, they’ll begin to act as the guardians of God’s treasure — and help girls to see themselves as daughters of the King.
Joanne Brokaw is a freelance writer who lives in East Rochester, N.Y. Photography by Ron Nickel.