Last week I was in a lingerie store. I received a gift certificate and was excited to be able to buy some cool and comfy pjs.
I watched a girl walk in. She was about 14, maybe younger. She had short brown hair and wore her confidence around her loosely. I stood still as about six teen guys walked in behind her. They were older, ranging in age from about 16 to 19.
They surrounded this girl and walked with her to the scanty stuff. One guy started picking items out and holding them up. The guys laughed and nudged each other, all pointing to the girl, and then to the dressing room.
Uh uh. No way. Not on my watch, you don't, I thought.
I saw a sales associate nearby. "What's going on over there?" I asked.
She looked over nervously. "We're near a school. It's lunch time. This happens all the time."
"Are you going to stop it? That girl is no more than 14. There's six guys."
She shrugged. "What can you do?"
People all over the store watched the scene unfold. These guys were picking out the most revealing pieces and throwing them over the girl's shoulder. One guy laughed, snorting. "Try this on. I'll see you now and then I'll see you later. You got it?"
The women in the store either left or looked away.
The girl blushed.
I turned to the sales associate. "Where is the manager?" I asked.
She pointed across the store. A woman stood by the cash register. Her face was flushed and angry, but she did nothing.
I watched as the girl walked toward the dressing room. It was open. The door was a 3/4's door and you could see her feet. She started to undress. The guys lounged around, nudging each other and pushing to get the best vantage point.
God, what can I do? What should I do?
I walked over and stood to face the guys. "What are you doing?" I asked quietly.
One guy pushed another, hitting him on the shoulder. "Nuthin."
"I want you to leave," I said.
"You going to make me?" one said.
I turned and whispered through the door. "These guys don't care for you," I said. "They are not your friends. If they were, this is not something they would ask. You are worth more than this, sweetheart. Please don't do this."
One guy got in my face. "You disrespecting me?"
"No," I said. "You are disrespecting her and you are disrespecting yourself. I can't let you do this. I won't. She's worth more than six guys standing around waiting to stare at her in lingerie. You need to leave."
"We aren't doing anything wrong. They wouldn't let us do this if it was wrong," one guy said. He pointed at the manager.
"I'm telling you it is wrong. I won't let this happen."
One guy walked away. Then another. One turned and glared at me.
I walked away a short distance to give the girl privacy. She walked out and stood still, looking around until our eyes met. "I didn't really want do it," she said quietly.
"Then don't, hon. Don't ever let anyone do that to you again."
I walked past the store manager, the sales associate, the people who stood around nervously, but did nothing. I was angry, so angry that I needed to talk to God, that I wanted to cry.
Someone had forgotten to tell this beautiful 14-year old girl that she was worth waiting for, that there was a man who would one day love her for what was on the inside, who would nurture her and only ask for her what was best for her. No one told her that guys who stand around waiting for you to model see-through lingerie weren't worth hanging around.
Someone had forgotten to tell these teen guys that it's wrong to do this to a young girl, that they could be better men, better people, that relationships are more than what you see on the outside, it's what a girl loves, her laugh, her dreams, her hopes, how to connect in friendship and fun and so much more. No one told them that girls are more than their current fantasy.
Worse, someone forgot to tell the adults that did nothing, said nothing, looked away as if they were at a train wreck, that it is our job to love and protect teens, even if it's uncomfortable.
I don't know if I did the right thing or if I handled it correctly. All I know is that this incident burned in my mind for several reasons.
I want to take every 14-year-old girl in my mamma arms and let them know that they are beautiful and valuable and to ask them to expect, demand even, respect from others and from themselves.
I want to sit with cool teen guys, even these not-so-cool guys who got caught up in the group mentality, and explain what it means to be an amazing man, a godly man who cares and who wants only the best for others.
I want, and plan to, contact this store's headquarters and ask them to change their "see nothing, do nothing" policy. I want them to "try on" responsibility toward teens.
So I know I sound a 1,000 years old in today's post, but this incident burned within me on a lot of different levels.
It still does.
My two cents for today,
http://realteenfaith.com -- Real teens loving a real God in a real world