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(© LarsZahnerPhotography iStockPhoto.com)
Does our appearance really matter?  I think it does, and this is the reason why.
 
I am a baby boomer and lived through the era of young women removing their bras, exposing their flesh and destroying their personal dignity.  Thankfully, I married young and escaped the influence of our university campuses. Therefore, I did not succumb to such behavior.  But I am even more grateful that my mother was actively engaged in my life and dressed me “pretty” when I was young.  Her training was deeper than the dress I wore.
 
Mother did not dress me like a radical teenager when I was young, sticking “tattoos” on my skin to be cute. I did not wear metallic leggings and tops that pulled off my shoulders. Yes, tattoos, drug culture, and sexual promiscuity were the signature of that generation, just as it is today.
 
But thankfully, I was dressed with ruffles and bows, patent leather shoes and, when we went into public places like church, shopping centers, or school functions, we were trained to look our best. My hair was freshly combed and fastened with a barrette. My brother wore clean clothes, freshly ironed, and had a well-trimmed haircut. When we came home, we changed into play clothes and saved our best for appropriate times.
 
How did this train me?  It gave me a sense of personal dignity (self-respect) and respect for others. When we dress appropriately for an occasion, that protocol and tradition trumps our self-centered, selfish desires and causes us to respect others and comply with others’ expectations.  (That’s not all bad.) This is why, before traveling to another country, I learn about their customs and manners so I can dress and behave in a way that will honor others.
 
Jack Hayford, a famous pastor and author, while addressing a large group of pastoral leaders explained to them the difference in casual dress and sloppy dress. In a current culture of pastors being “cool”, their appearance had become less-than-cool; they had become disrespectful and inappropriate in their appearance. Pastor Jack was raising their standard.
 
Mothers, raise your standard for your family.  Do not allow your children to go to a hotel breakfast buffet in their pajamas. (Don’t you do it either.)  Wash their faces and comb their hair before going to the store. Everything you do for them becomes training for their future.
 
Better appearance of children, well groomed and clean, improves their behavior. Why is this true?Because they feel better about themselves, therefore they treat others better.
 
Check yourself in the rear view mirror.  Now bend over and see what you are exposing others too. Dresses are in fashion now and I love them. It is a great opportunity for you to train your young daughters to sit with their legs together, covering them with their dress.  But if you are exposed, she will also expose herself.  
 
Dresses always look and feel longer in the front than they are in the back. Outfit your bedroom and the rooms of your children with full-length mirrors. Teach them their appearance does matter; modesty, self-respect and respect for others are our goal.
 
Your son’s appearance is important too. How you dress him when he is young will shape his associations and self-image when he is grown. You determine his association by what you allow. How you cut his hair when he is young tells him who you want him to associate with. “Punks” always have certain “punk-looks”. Pull his pants up, not down around his loin, and dress him in a shirt, tie and jacket on special occasions. Take him to fine dining in something other than jeans. Clean appearance, combed hair, and a fresh haircut speaks loudly of a man’s attention to his self image and his respect for others. 
 
Individualism gives freedom of personal expression in our appearance. But one should never compromise the standards of self-respect and respect for others when it comes to choosing how we look. Our appearance should bring glory to God at all times.
 
Devi Titus, wife of Larry Titus, is among America’s most recognized Christian conference speakers and authors. She is an award winning communicator with the Washington Press Women’s Association and speaks to multiple thousands annually, both nationally and globally.

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