An interview...

Culture | with 36 teens from Peace Reformed Church, Middleville, Mich.

Issue: "Troops hunt for weapons," June 14, 2003

Q My thesis is that at the pool or the beach, guys and girls think that it is OK to wear less than their underwear, when they wouldn't dare do that in any other public setting. What do you think?

A Heather, 16: Most of the girls that buy cute little bikinis, it's mostly an innocent thing for the most part because they look at themselves in the mirror and they are like, "Oh, this is so cute." It looks like a cute little Barbie (laughter). But I don't get that cute little Barbie bikini because I know that guys will look at me and say, "Wow, she's very sexy." And I don't want that. I mean, most of the guys here are like brothers to me and I don't want them to look at me in that way. So when I see girls coming out dressed in bathing suits with less material on them than my sleeve, I'm going, "Why do you have to do that?"

A Brian, 16: There are those people who intentionally go out and buy skimpy and crude bathing suits because they want the attention and it will make them feel better about themselves.

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Q Is there any girl in this room who is willing to refute that, and who will say, "I don't dress in fashion because I want guys to think I'm sexy"?

A Justine, 16: A lot of the ways that girls dress is for attention. It's a lot, like, looking for love. But I think, with as much love as God has for us-sending His Son who would die-I don't think you need any more love than that. And I think that the skimpiness and stuff like that is a supplement for something that people don't have, and once you're a Christian you don't need that anymore.

Q (To a bikini-wearer) Now the top of your two-piece. If you were to wear it under a button-down shirt to school, and then take the shirt off, would you be kicked out of school?

A Stacy, 16 (goes to a public school): I know I would be kicked out of school.

Q So it is fair to say that if you wore your bikini top to school as a bra, and then took off your shirt so that you were exposing not a bra, but a bikini top, you would be kicked out of school for sexually explicit behavior. What do you think when you try on your bikinis?

A Lori, 16: Just, "Hey, how does it look on me?"

Q Is this a double standard for the girls? Is this hard on you girls? The pressure has got to be immense. Because in one sense you want to be seen and considered attractive and beautiful and affirmed, and yet in another sense you really want to believe that, with the guys, what really matters is an inner beauty.

A Brad, 17: I think what it comes down to essentially is that it is not necessarily wrong to rejoice in your femininity as a girl. Yes it's OK to try to be attractive. But we need to focus that the main problem does lie in the male mind: We as males are physically programmed to lust. So it actually becomes a challenge for us to control our minds. It's a problem we need to address in us as well, instead of just saying, "Girls, you're wearing these horrible, sluttish bathing suits and you're flaunting yourself all over." Is it that really, or is it my own mind that needs to change?


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