Girl! Interrupted!: An interview with Teresa Coelho of Power of Modesty

3 03 2011

Interviewing Teresa Coelho of Power of Modesty is such a blast. As a former model and a mother she has a keen eye for what teens, especially girls are going through. Issues like peer pressure, clothing, sex and pleasing God are on top of every girls list of questions. For me (as a guy) I also learned a lot.  And now without further a due, here is our interview Teresa.

ROCK:    Teresa, why do teens especially girls get peer pressured?

Teresa: Being a model in Southern California for 15 years, I understand the expectation to maintain what Hollywood and the fashion industry consider “perfection.”  It’s a never-ending, forever changing culture that pressures especially girls to compromise character and their self-worth.  It’s unfortunate that nine in ten teen girls are influenced by T.V. fashion mags and models.  Even though most girls know that the photos they’re looking at have been altered or photoshopped, still 75% of girls become depressed after fifteen minutes of reading a glam mag.  What I’ve learned after working in the entertainment industry is to be content with my body, and be happy and with whom I am when I look at myself in a mirror.

ROCK: How does this affect their life specifically being a Christian? How about you as a teen then?

I made mistakes as a young adult and it wasn’t until I had the opportunity at a second marriage that my fiancé’ stated that he would only marry me if I made Christ a priority in my life. I was a young Christian at the time, and I didn’t want to fail at another marriage, so I read my Bible often and listen to Christian radio broadcasts. I’ve learned to stand firm and trust God with my life, my marriage, the raising of four girls, and a ministry.

The Bible gives us an edge over the culture’s deception. As Christians we exist in Christ and in this world. But like most of us, it’s easier to listen to the lies that we’re unworthy than to believe that we are “Wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).  Romans 12 is key to remember when we struggle with those lies that whisper where not good enough.  The Bible says for Christians to be transformed by the “renewing of our mind” and not to conform to the pressures of a hostile world. Allowing God to transform us is like a metamorphosis, it’s a total change in our attitude towards how we think or feel about ourselves that develops from the inside out.

ROCK:   I thought this generation or culture taught us individualism yet why do teens and young adults fall for conformity on what media thinks, views on sexuality and the more obvious how they dress up?

Teresa: Media is always saying “Be your own girl!” “Embrace your uniqueness!” but then flashy sexy cover stories that read, “How to Look Like Your Fav Celeb”, or “25 Ways to Look Sexy.” Our culture is double-minded and if we choose the counterfeit culture over Christ we will set ourselves up for failure.

When I modeled, my life evolved around having a sexy appearance. I think for me that word “appearance” says it all. I appeared sexy, but that really wasn’t my heart at all. It was what I thought I was supposed to be, the girl with the sexiest clothes and the hottest body wins…right?

But after rededicating my life to Christ, I was convicted over the clothes I’d been wearing I began asking myself these questions:

Why do I choose to wear “sexy” outfits? Am I really that insecure that have to show off my body to compete with other women? Is it a rush knowing that my body caught a man’s eye and became the focus of his attention?

I think it’s important for every girl that struggles with modesty to ask themselves these questions, so that they can keep their heart in check with God’s standards and not the worlds.

 

ROCK: What are your advice for teens on how do they stand out while maintaining their Christian values?

Teresa: Isaiah 59:15 says “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes prey.”

I believe this next generation of Christians must stand firm and engage in the truth of God’s Word. We have become too passive and have allowed evil to walk all over us.  It’s time for a grass-roots movement of repentance to wash across our heart so God can heal us and our land.

That’s why I’ve created the “Rebellion Newsletter.” It’s an email the gets basted all around the world to encourage girls to speak up against the culture when others are afraid too.

ROCK:   Lets go to clothing, why is clothing very important to teens?

Teresa: For teenagers, clothing is a social statement. It expresses to their friends and everyone else who they are and what they like.  It’s their signature or identity.  Clothing can categorize you into cliques or groups by what you wear. But most the time, teens are into a certain look of clothing because of peer pressure to wear the latest style.

ROCK:   How about sex. How can we tell teens to wait and invest in purity while their friends had given it already?

Teresa: Over 50% of teen girls between the ages of 12-17 feel pressured into having sex, either by their boyfriend or class mates.

Here are some statistics that I just read today from the Alan Guttmacher Institute:  They’re reporting there are 4 million new sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) that infect teens each year. And that the Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections account for about half of STIs diagnosed among 15- 24year olds each year.
I also found a study dated Tuesday, January 26, 2010 that reads: Following decade-long decline, U.S. teen pregnancy rate increases as both birth and abortions rise.

But let’s not forget about the AIDS/HIV report from The Kaiser Foundation that “new HIV infections among young people are at 2.6 million.”

I could go on about the statistics and risks of premarital sex, but many girls believe that getting pregnant or an STD would never happen to them. The reality is…its happening. And it’s happening to girl’s every day that have to go home and tell their parents their pregnant or have a sexually transmitted disease because they couldn’t wait till they were married to have sex.

I think it’s time for us girls to get real.
God is a relational God, and He created a husband and wife to be sexual. Marriage invites a man and a woman into each other’s life to know and to be known. There’s no shame. No regrets. No boundaries. Sex God’s way, is the best and safest sex out there!

But how do you wait when everyone around you isn’t? I tell teens that their feeling toward wanting to experience sex is normal. But God says to wait and for very good reasons until you’re married. Did you know that over 25% of teens that have premarital sex become depressed.  Dating and breaking up then dating again when sex is involved with different partners, overtime will callous your heart. What you’ve done is trained your heart, your body, and your brain to not fully give or accept love the way God intended.

Now that you know the truth, it’ll be easier for you to overcome Satan’s scheme.  Read Ephesians 5:5 and keep this verse in your brain. “Let there not be a HINT of sexual immorality.” What that means is this: When you talk to the opposite sex there should not be an indirect suggestion, a slight indication, a touch, a trace, and a drop of a hint or a potential opportunity for sexual behavior.

ROCK: Wow, Teresa very well said.   I know there are parents out their reading this, so what can you say to them on the proper way to talk to their kids about Christian modesty?

Teresa: It’s important to talk to your children about modesty when they’re still young. Instilling morals and values right away into your children teaches them that this is your family’s life style and expectation. Otherwise when your children become teenagers you’ll be battling over a freedom that once belonged to them. The double standard will cause friction and frustration between you and your teen.

ROCK: Any tips or advice to teens and young adults that I know for sure wants to please God and their parents. So what do think are the steps in doing it?

Teresa: Every teen deep down wants to please their parents. I’ll give you a few tips that I believe teens need to be intentional about that are non-negotiable when it comes to relationships with God and their parents.

The first tip is trust. If you break your parents trust, it’ll take time to rebuild, so don’t expect your parents to just hand over the car keys or allow you to go out after you’ve gotten caught breaking the rules. Many times teens feel the need to sneak around behind their parents back.  This behavior only results in a guilty conscience that will cause all kinds of emotional and physical attitudes to flare up between you, your parents, your friends, including your relationship with God.  The best thing to do is talk with your parents about how your feeling, before there’s a mountain of tension in your relationship.

The second tip is to obey your parents.  Many times teens refuse to listen and will talk back or flat out rebel because they don’t agree with their parents rules. It’s important for the teen to understand that your parents are there to empower you through your teen years to help prepare you now, so that you will make wise choices for your future.

My last tip is to honor your parents. I know that this could be difficult for some teens that have been neglected and hurt by their parents.  I was mistreated growing up, and my mom made me feel as though I was destroying the family when I chose to get Christian counseling. But when she got older, I honored her by lovingly caring for her needs. It’s important to honor your parents by the choices you make with your life. The things you choose to do are a reflection of your Heavenly Father.

These simple steps are what God desires from you too.  He wants your relationship to be built on trust, as you depend on Him to get you through the turbulent times of your teenage years.  However, that depends on you being obedient to His Word, and putting it into action in your life.  And most of all God wants you to honor Him by representing Him and His Kingdom.

ROCK: Teresa it’s such a pleasure interviewing you. I learned a lot from you. Now, Teresa what is Power of Modesty? Please tell us about it? Invite them to check you website or Facebook page.

Power of Modesty was founded in 2004 and it was created to be a safe environment where teen girls can find the love, understanding, support, accountability and guidance that they’re seeking through relationships, and to give them the message of freedom and grace that we can only receive through Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to be a process and a journey so they can make a positive influence on our culture.

I would love to have your readers’ blog me and join the Rebellion Newsletter on the P.O.M. website at http://www.powerofmodesty.com