Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Try this on for size

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,

Suzie Eller -- Real teens loving a real God in a real world


Sarah Anne Sumpolec said...

Oh Suzie-

Your post broke my heart.

I want to give this girl a hug...especially since she represents so many others out there who aren't helped...

Thanks for being Christ to her...

Spatula said...

I want to shout HURRAY for you!!! As a teen, I know how "friends" can be. We always joke around about going in and trying on lingerie, but we all know it's not going to happen because we all respect each other too much to go through with it. I know that it really is hard to tell people that what they're doing is not acceptable, and I'm so very glad that you stood up for her. She deserves to know that guys like that are not worth her time. Yay for bravery and strength! Applause from Texas!

Barb Huff said...

Way to go, Suz. Way to go.

Samantha said...

Wow, Suzie, i feel for that girl so bad. It's not because what those guys did was wrong, it was but it's feeling that insecure that she leaned on guys for affection. i don't mean to sound condescending, because in a way i am that girl. i know what it's like to feel unloved and reach out for something visible to comfort me. it wasn't until I became a Christian that i realized this was way unnecassary. Don't get me wrong, there were still times that I leaned on guys after becoming a Christian, but now i'm safely in the arms of another man and I dare not leave.
You're incredible and I wish someone like you was there for me to pull me away from a situation like that.
God bless you

Mitali Perkins said...

teens need 1000-year old "blessers" like you ... you inspire me to claim my role as a truth-telling, love-bearing sage for their sake ... for His sake

Thrasher said...

Oh wow...

Thank you. Thank you for doing something about that horrible situation. I only wish more people would be willing to step up and stop America's youth from destroying themselves.

My generation needs all the help it can get. As Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing." Thank you so much for doing something; I hope more will follow.

Donita K. Paul said...

Suzie, I cried, when I read this. Thank you for standing by that girl. Maybe your example will give the manager and sales people the courage to stand up to evil.

Bless you and God bless that teen girl.


Donita K. Paul said...

Oh, Suzie, I cried when I read this post. Thank you for standing up for that young girl. Perhaps your example will give the manager and sales people to stand up against this evil.

Bless that young lady and give her purpose in her life.


Hannah Beth said...

For the sake of that girl, thank you for not ignoring the situation!

Kelly said...

As i was reading your post, i put myself in your position. Six teen guys, probably a lot taller than you, a lot scarier than you...but just guys. Would i say stop it to them, too, if i was in your spot? After reading your post, i decided the answer is yes. I will. As a twenty-one year old girl, i have seen disrespect from guys to girls, seen girls do the same, seen girls blatantly disrespect themselves, and been severely disrespected myself. I haven't found that one man God wants me to be with yet, but i sure won't settle for less, no matter how lonely i get, no matter how sad or jealous i let myself become, i want the respect i deserve, and in return i will respect the man that loves and respects me. Thank you so much for your story.

Anonymous said...


Way to go! Thank you so much for standing up for that girl. Our generation really needs TONS more 1,000 year old people like you. God Bless.

Smart_Pippi said...

I'm 17. If my life had gone differently, that could have been me. I have the names and faces of at least a hundered girls at my school that, in a different situation, could have been her. Someday, years from now, that could be my niece or godchild or daughter.
Thank you.