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Fashion meets faith

Teen girls face more pressures today than ever beforeto fit in, to dress stylishly, to express themselves through their clothes and actions. Pamela A. Stillinger, director of events and administration at Abounding Grace Christian Church in Schenectady sees young girls struggle with those pressures every week and decided to do something about it.

Fashion Meets Faith" is a two-day conference split into sessions titled "Modesty Rocks" and "Maximizing Beauty" on Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2. Stylist, author and motivational speaker Shari Braendel hosts an event that teaches women and girls how to dress trendy and modestly.

"One of the things, especially for girls, is that we as Christians have assumed that our girls know what modest is, so what's happened is we say 'don't do this, don't do that' and we're teaching them what not to do," said Braendel. "They're getting advice from the world and learning how to dress from the world."

What the world is teaching girls, said Stillinger, is that the way they dress says more about who they are than what's inside, something that often leads to self-esteem and self-image issues. That's a notion she wants the church's young congregation to get away from.

"It's so difficult to find things to wear that if you don't have a certain body type, you don't look good in it. Either it's very short or a lot of cleavage is showing and it's about body image," said Stillinger. "We want girls to understand they were created beautiful, God created them beautifully, and they need to see themselves that way."

Both Stillinger and Braendel said that the word "modesty" is sometimes thought to be synonymous with drab, un-trendy or boring. In reality, that's not so.

"The bible talks about modesty and a big reason for that is because when a man is looking at a woman visually, especially boys in their teen years, they're not looking at a warm personality or how caring, giving and compassionate they are," said Stillinger. "We want girls to understand you can still be dressed fashionably and modestly and let your inner beauty do the work for you."

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