Teens model modest fashion in Spartanburg show

SPARTANBURG — Dozens of girls took a walk down the runway of decency recently during a fashion show at the new Marriott downtown.

Members of the Challenge Girls Club wanted to show their peers that values are in vogue. Many of these girls, ages 10-16, said they have had their fill of the vulgarities embraced by the MTV crowd and popular culture. So they have taken a stand. They want the “in” crowd to know that modesty can be popular. Beauty, they say, comes from within, not from plunging necklines and hiked-up hemlines.

They want to emphasize grace, style and decency. These girls hope that one day, flashing a smile will be more fashionable than flashing some skin.

With the help of the community, they put together a show that made every one of their parents proud. In fact, they packed the Marriott ballroom — about 300 people attended — and not once did they have to expose a navel.

One of the runway girls, Caitlin Connelly, said she was nervous at first, but then she embraced the moment and had fun on stage.

“I think we showed everyone that modesty can be fashionable,” Caitlin said.

Their cause moved Kitty Cleveland, a Christian singer who intended to perform after the fashion show. Instead, she came on stage and talked to the girls about her own walk with faith, and how these young teens had inspired her.

She told them that they have a fan in God — that whenever they dress, they are making a statement about their faith.

Cleveland also told the girls not to get sidetracked. You don’t need to chase love by shaking, shimmying and flaunting every asset you have, she said. True love, she said, accepts the self and all its wonders.

 “Kitty Cleveland reminded us that no matter what we do, God loves us to the core,” said Terry Hall, whose daughter, Deirdre, was part of the show.

That love brings security and confidence. Brie Shelly certainly felt it during her walk down the runway.

“You can believe in yourself to do great things in life,” she said after her performance. Brie also learned “that you don’t have to dress risqué to have a lot of fun.”

“Young girls can be attractive and feel good about themselves,” she said.

Brie’s mother, Nancy, said the message of modesty certainly was well received.  With that in mind, she said, shopping now takes on an added responsibility.

“It’s hard to find things that are appropriate in the store,” Nancy Shelly said.

That is exactly why the Challenge Girls Club held its fashion show. The girls want to change popular culture. They want to change fashions. They want modest styles

to fill store shelves.Their walk at the Marriott was a first step toward putting their values in vogue. They hope that others follow.