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Author brings empowering sexual theology message to Tampa Bay

By Sarah Whitman, Religion Columnist
Dannah Gresh with husband and Secret Keeper Girl CEO Bob Gresh. Photo courtesy of Secret Keeper Girl

Modesty.

The word means different things to different people. It can spark debate. Or create a movement.

Author Dannah Gresh travels the United States speaking about her definition of modest.

Gresh, 50, is the founder of Pure Freedom, a ministry focused on sexual theology, and Secret Keeper Girl, an event tour targeted to mothers and their daughters, ages of 8-12.

Secret Keeper Girl, based on Greshís book of the same name, aims to educate girls on their worth and inspire greater inner-confidence. The event tagline, "Discover the Power of True Beauty and Modesty," speaks to Greshís testimony affirming women and girls as more than physical objects.

Secret Keeper Girl will visit several Tampa Bay area locations in March.

I spoke to Gresh about modesty, #metoo and raising confident girls.

What inspired you to advocate for women and girls?

Like most women who are advocates for womenís issues, my own pain and hurt led me to this. Growing up, I never felt beautiful. I learned how to put on my mascara without looking in the mirror because I didnít want to have to look at myself.

As girls we compare ourselves to others. And these days, girls arenít just comparing themselves to unrealistic photos of celebrities. They see photos of their friends taken with filters on their phones.

Secret Keeper Girl started as a small gathering of my daughterís friends at our church to talk about things like eating disorders and the sexualization of our bodies. Someone suggested I write a book and I did. It turned into this amazing thing. Now, 15 years later, my daughter is 23 and a speaker on the tour.

Can you define the Secret Keeper Girl message?

To teach each girl she is a masterpiece created by God. The Bible says God knitted us together in our motherís womb. Knitted means made with precision. Itís intentional how God made each of us. If he made your hair curly, he did it on purpose. If he made you tall or gave you crooked teeth, he did it on purpose. Each girl needs to hear she is a masterpiece to be protected.

What does modest mean to you?

There are two ends of the spectrum where there is a hyper focus on a womanís body. On one end you have repression, where women are asked to cover all of themselves, where women are taught to feel ashamed of their bodies. And then on the other end, you have the oversexualization, the provocative dress. We teach body confidence. We teach you donít have to repress yourself or dress in a way that distracts from your whole worth.

What do you think keeps girls from embracing body confidence?

Peer pressure is the biggest challenge. Iíve learned the number one thing that impacts a girl, including how she dresses, is her circle of friends. We invited mothers and daughters to bring their friends to the tour. To share the evening together.

The event includes a modesty fashion show. Details?

Itís a fun look at how to be tasteful and appropriate. This year we have mothers and daughters on the stage together. We have a mom in a 1980s prom dress that is worth the price of admission.

What are your thoughts on the #metoo movement?

I think there are great things about it and things that could be better. Iím happy it is happening, that women are speaking out and change is happening. At the recent Grammy Awards, it was awesome seeing celebrities advancing the movement. At the same time, there were female presenters dressed in ways that promote objectifying women. I think that double-mindedness is contradictory to what we are trying to communicate. I am thrilled men who are not well are getting the help they need and losing the privileges they do not deserve, that women have been given a voice and are trying to heal. I think itís also okay to say to women, donít objectify yourself.

Do you think this generation of girls will benefit from the movement?

There is change. But there will always be people who try to exploit women. It is sad but it is real. It is important to teach our daughters self-respect and that they have value.

Your daughter took your message to heart. She now works for Secret Keeper Girl. What is it like listening to her speak?

Itís so fun. I was listening to her and someone asked how she got involved with Secret Keeper Girl. It is amazing to hear how the event impacted her. She is a strong woman. And she said she thinks that it is because of Secret Keeper Girl.

Contact Sarah Whitman at [email protected]