Jackie Gingrich Cushman

The short answer is yes. "Research links sexualization," the report states, "with three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression or depressed mood."

It's not only the focus of clothing, but of much of the media. Think of how women are portrayed on television. Many women commentators on news programs wear pseudo cocktail dresses. Men wear suits. Both are supposed to be experts in their fields, but they are portrayed differently through their dress.

What we wear does not define who we are, but it is important. Clothing is how we initially express to the rest of the world who we are, or who we think we are, or who we would like to be or possibly a mixture of all three. First impressions tend to endure, and in middle school the name of the game is fitting in, belonging to one group or another. This desire to belong, to be a part of something, helps explain why fashion trends can fly through schools during these formative years.

It's also the time when crushes begin and social skills are learned, practiced and understood. What is most important to others? Is it looks and attire? Is it sexualization? Or is it what is on the inside of a person, rather than the outside?

Almost 50 years ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. talked about having a dream where the importance of the "content of their character" was a person's most important attribute, not the color of his or her skin. Nor should it be beauty that is only skin deep.

It will be interesting to watch the modesty trend unfold and to see if it catches on.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.