Rachel Lee Carter was a popular model who is now the author of Fashioned by Faith, a book designed to help young girls connect the way they dress to their core faith values. Carter says that many guys prefer girls who dress modestly instead of those who focus on maximum skin.
“Skins” and “Teen Mom” have made teen sexualization and modesty a hot topic. Would you be interested in hearing about an international supermodel who recently discovered that teens who dress modestly actually are accepted more by their peers than teens who dress for the “skin is in” scenario?
In her new book, Rachel Lee Carter uses her success in the industry to offer a cutting-edge approach to the concept of beauty and offers the perspective of teen boys to deliver a new trend to teen girls about how they dress. This mother and modesty advocate recently started a faith-based organization to promote modesty in today’s teens and offers a do-good approach to the concept of beauty.
QA with Rachel Lee Carter, author of Fashioned by Faith
YouthWorker Journal: Why do you feel this topic is important into today’s society?
Rachel Lee Carter: Somewhere along the line in fashion history, the phrase “Skin is in” inundated our society. Unfortunately, many girls and young women have bought into this lie and their reputations, morals and self-esteem has suffered. It’s a growing problem that needs a resourceful answer.
YWJ: What are ways to feel beautiful that don’t relate to style and fashion?
RLC: Taking hygienic care of oneself is important. Also, by concentrating on one’s spiritual assets—her inner beauty—helps her to focus on what true beauty really means. We’ve all met someone who might not look like a Barbie Doll on the outside, but because of her inner beauty, she exudes beauty that fashion and style can’t touch.
YWJ: How can you express your own personal style while still being modest?
RLC: Layering. Nearly everything that seems immodest at first glance can become modest after some strategic layering. I give lots of examples of this in my book, Fashioned by Faith.
Accessorizing. I like to joke that
YWJ: How can adults help encourage modesty in the younger generation?
RLC: Moms and female youth workers can set the standard by modeling modesty themselves. This is not only a problem among a younger generation; it crosses age lines and is just as evident in the church. Dads and male youth workers can provide guidance and set standards that must be adhered to. Not only is a girl’s reputation and morality at stake, but so are the boys who struggle to keep a
YWJ: Why did you choose to speak with a panel of teen boys to get their thoughts on modesty and beauty?
RLC: Girls automatically assume that guys want them to dress sexy. I once thought so, too. Some guys do—but not the kind of guy a self-respecting girl wants to grow up and marry. That’s why I interviewed a dozen guys from across the country—cute guys, guys who love the Lord, and who are into sports, music or acting. They each gave their perspective, and it amazed me how much they had to say about modesty and why it’s important to them. I’m hoping these conversations will derail any myths that say, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” As Seth from chapter one says, “If you’ve got it, protect it.”
YWJ: The dialogue and journal format that you used for the book is cool, as is the Scripture. Why did you think it was important to include that?
RLC: I want girls to see for themselves what a search through Scripture looks like. They have the opportunity to join with other girls in a Bible study format to discuss questions in the “So what do you say” section, as well as a quiet time journal that can be done alone for 45 days. This will help her further dig into Scripture about matters such as true beauty, modesty, self-esteem and other important topics for teen girls.
YWJ: Do you think this book could be helpful to someone who does not have a Christian or faith-based background?
RLC: Absolutely. I’m hoping I can win her trust in the beginning chapters as I mesmerize her with my experiences in the fashion industry. Then, as we look at how she is a masterpiece created by the God of the universe, I pray the Holy Spirit will capture her heart. In the final chapter, I share how I accepted Christ as my Savior while living in New York as an aspiring fashion model. I share the plan of salvation and offer the reader an opportunity to invite Christ into her heart and life.
YWJ: In what ways can parents use this book?
RLC: Moms and daughters or dads and daughters could use the book as a Bible study together. Also, I have devoted two chapters on my personal guidelines to modesty, such as finger-tip length shorts. If parents know the guidelines, they can shop with their daughters, maintaining these standards or their own in mind.
YWJ: Most youth workers are male. Some are single. How would you recommend these young men deal with young women in their groups about the issues you explore in the book?
RLC: It can be tricky and I understand their apprehension, but we know what happens when no one says anything. If there isn’t a female leader who can spearhead the topic or a woman in the church who is able to lead a group of girls through the book, then it often falls on his shoulders.
I would suggest he read the book first; it will give him ammunition on modesty and help him to understand a girls’ heart.
Next, have an all-girls’ open forum (with their parents’ permission), Bible in hand, and explain that modesty isn’t legalism but that if we’re not tolerating legalism, then neither should we tolerate license. Explaining these terms to the girls, and getting a guy’s perspective will challenge the girls and keep them from becoming defensive.
He also needs to share how guys think. Girls don’t know how guys are wired because they’re not guys. If they hear this from a man who has their best interest in mind, it will resonate better with them.
YWJ: What can you say to a young girl who feels as if modesty puts her at a competitive disadvantage against other girls who dress more alluringly?
RLC: I would tell her that those are not the kind of guys she wants to compete for. She will realize there is a fair amount of attention that girls get when dressed provocatively, but she also will learn that the good guys share her values for modesty and purity. Those guys do exist and are the ones worth waiting for.
What can you say to young males who have easy access to an unprecedented amount of sexually explicit material, to encourage them to appreciate modesty in girl friends and girlfriends? A guy needs to think about—really think about—the kind of girl he wants as a wife and the mother of his children. Does he really want a girl who flaunts herself in public and expects all eyes on her, regardless of whose eyes they are? Or does he want a girl who appreciates him and respects him enough to let her body be for his eyes only and who doesn’t need confirmation from other men? If that’s the kind of girl he wants someday, then he needs to be the kind of guy in whom she would be interested: a pure guy with a pure mind. Because guys are inundated with sexual material at every turn, it is especially important for them to guard their hearts and eyes. Additionally, they should encourage and compliment the girls who do dress with standards.
Order the book at Amazon.com.