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Dannah Gresh, a State College, Pa., mother of two adolescent girls who leads nationwide lectures on fashion and modesty for girls, called Secret Keeper Girl, launched a shopping event on Oct. 23 and 24 designed to thank certain stores for their age-appropriate wares.
Gresh, founder of the Christian youth ministry organization True Freedom, sought petition signers at her lectures over the last year to vote on mass-retail stores that succeed in “consistently offering age-appropriate clothing” while also “creating fun and trendy looks.” GapKids, Old Navy, The Children’s Place and Land’s End received the most votes, and were targeted, according to Gresh, as shopping destinations for the more than 14,000 mothers who signed the petition, dubbed “The Bod Squad.”
“The fashion industry drives an incredible challenge for moms to present to their daughters, that they don’t have to look like a cover of a magazine,” explained Gresh, who also writes young adult novels (her most successful: “And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity”). “We wanted to convey our concerns, but we didn’t want it to be a negative message.”
As for the success of the event, Gresh, whose Secret Keeper Girl events have taken place in about 30 states, did not measure the number of petitioners who shopped last weekend. She also sent press kits to all four stores’ communications departments and received no response; none of the companies returned a request for comment. Kim Michell, a mother of three from Atlanta who served on the petition’s advisory panel, said even if mothers didn’t purchase anything, the Secret Keeper Girl Web site offered downloadable thank you notes for parents to leave at the stores over the weekend.
Gresh plans to send her sharply worded petition, which is still accruing signers via her Web site, as well as a complete copy of a two-year study by the A.P.A. (American Psychological Association) Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, to the CFDA and the Apparel and Footwear Manufacturer’s Association next week.