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How Do I Look?

How Do I Look?

 Why should you care about what you wear? Because clothes make a statement. What message do yours send?

 Three big fashion mistakes and how to avoid them

Mistake #1: Letting the media dictate how you should look.

 “Sometimes I’m attracted to a trend because I’ve seen so many ads about it,” says a teenager named Theresa. “When your brain is pumped full of images of people wearing a certain item, it can be hard not to follow along.”

 Girls aren’t the only ones who are affected by advertising. “Boys are just as susceptible to fashion trends,” says the book The Everything Guide to Raising Adolescent Boys. “They don’t go far in life without seeing something aimed at them from a marketing perspective.”

 A better route: The Bible says: “The naive person believes every word, but the shrewd one ponders each step.” (Proverbs 14:15) In harmony with that principle, learn to scrutinize what you see in ads. For example, when you see ads for clothes that are touted as “sassy,” “hot,” or “sexy,” ask yourself:

  •  ‘Who really profits if I follow that trend?’

  •  ‘What lifestyle would it associate me with?’

  •  ‘Does that lifestyle really define me and what I stand for?’

 Fashion tip: For a week, look closely at clothing ads and other media that focus on fashion. What lifestyle do they promote? Are there subtle messages that are geared toward making you feel as if you need to follow a certain trend? “There is huge pressure to look perfect, dress perfect, and show off your ‘perfect’ body,” says a teenager named Karen. “Advertisers who realize that have an easy target audience with young people.”

Mistake #2: Adopting a popular look just to fit in.

 “If a certain type of clothing is in style,” says a teenager named Manuel, “then everyone is going to wear that style. If you don’t wear it, people will judge you.” A teenager named Anna would agree. “It’s not so much about fashion as it is about fitting in,” she says.

 A better route: The Bible says: “Stop being molded by this system of things.” (Romans 12:2) In harmony with that advice, look through your wardrobe and ask yourself:

  •  ‘Which factors primarily influence my clothing choices?’

  •  ‘How important to me is having a brand-name label?’

  •  ‘Am I trying to impress people with my clothing?’

 Fashion tip: Rather than seeing only two options​—trendy (and accepted) or out-of-style (and rejected)​—consider a third option: self-confident and secure. The more comfortable you are with yourself, the less anxious you will feel about fitting in.

Mistake #3: Thinking ‘the sexier, the better.’

 “Honestly, sometimes it’s tempting to wear something a little edgy, as in too short or too tight or too skimpy,” admits a girl named Jennifer.

 A better route: The Bible says: “Do not let your adornment be external . . . but let it be the secret person of the heart.” (1 Peter 3:3, 4) In harmony with that advice, think about what’s more attractive​—eye-catching outfits or heart-touching traits.

 Fashion tip: Your best ‘fashion accessory’ is modesty. True, that’s not a popular word today. But think of it this way:

 Have you ever had a conversation with someone who talks too much and only about himself or herself? The sad thing is, that person probably has no clue that he or she is putting you off!

Clothing, like conversation, can be so ‘me-focused’ that it repels those around you

 When you dress immodestly, you become like that person. Your attire sends out the message ‘look at me,’ and that can make you appear either insecure or self-absorbed​—or both. It can also make you look desperate for any kind of attention​—even the wrong kind.

 Rather than advertising something you’re not selling, try modesty. “Modesty doesn’t mean you have to dress like your grandmother,” says a teenager named Monica. “It just means that you respect yourself and others around you.”