Colleen Carroll Campbell

They may also be more likely to engage in sexual activity, as girls who look older tend to attract more sexual attention. That sexual activity carries risks beyond the physical for girls: A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine showed a strong correlation between sexual activity and depression in teenage girls – a correlation far stronger than the one seen in boys, with girls’ depression rates rising as the number of sexual partners rose. The study suggests that sexual experimentation is not a symptom but a cause of depression in teenage girls.

Many parents feel powerless to resist the objectification of their daughters. But others are fighting back. A new modesty movement is sprouting in cities from Denver to Atlanta, with Pure Fashion shows drawing crowds of modesty-conscious mothers and daughters, new retailers like Shade Clothing reporting multi-million dollar sales figures for clothes that keep private parts private, and feisty online communities like encouraging rebels against raunchy culture.

The girls and women behind this movement say they are not looking to revive gunny-sack dresses or relive the 1950s. They simply want to be seen as more than the sum of their body parts.

Their modesty message is controversial in the era of Paris and Britney. Yet it is also common sense, as even Paris seems to know. How else to explain her unprecedented choice of a collar and covered neckline for her recent court appearance? It seems that even America’s quintessential girl gone wild realizes that when she wants to be taken seriously, she must stop the striptease and show some self-respect.

Colleen Carroll Campbell

Colleen Carroll Campbell is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a former speechwriter to George W. Bush, and author of The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Loyola, 2002). She is a frequent commentator on such networks as FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, and PBS, and she hosts her own television show, “Faith & Culture,” on EWTN, the world’s largest religious media network.

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