Since dressing modestly is something her family has spoken about since their reality tv debut, it’s no great surprise that Jessa Duggar Seewald will be booking events to pass the rules her family made on to others. However, a few factors in the family’s belief system really stand out when considering that these modesty classes will be taught to elementary-aged children. Since Josh Duggar’s police report bearing allegations of child molestation, came to light a few years ago, many have looked more closely into the beliefs Jessa and her siblings were raised with regarding sexual assault and modesty.
A few years ago, Gawker published pages from the homeschooling curriculum published by the Advanced Training Institute (ATI) — an organization created by a man who has actually now stepped down in light of sexual assault allegations against him by a number of women and girls who were in his care. The Duggar family subscribes to the beliefs of this organization and has endorsed their homeschooling materials and uses them in their own home.
How does this relate to Jessa’s teaching of modest dress? Well, the curriculum is startling in a few ways, but one page in particular addresses an older brother sexually assaulting younger siblings in the home — just as the Duggar family revealed had taken place in their own home. The directions given by the documents include addressing the faults of the victim, who it suggests was to blame for being assaulted because they dressed too immodestly. Another page tells victims God might have let the assault happen because of their immodest dress.
In short, Jessa Duggar Seewald was raised in a home where the educational teachings included that young girls who do not dress modestly enough are to blame if they are attacked by an older person. Now, she will give a talk passing on the modesty standards she was taught to others, including very young girls.
Though it’s called ‘Fashionably Modest,’ the event isn’t just being billed as a lesson in how to choose clothes that are both fashionable and modest, but as a lesson in why one would want to do so. Jessa Seewald’s lessons in this matter come not from formal training, but from her own upbringing and experiences, and the teachings of ATI.
“Come hear first hand why Jessa has taken the road to modest living, while being directed by Gods word.”
The event excludes men (who are invited instead to participate in a barbecue outside the venue), as well as babies and children under age nine. Instead, it is for ‘ladies’ aged nine and older. The age line is an interesting factor here. Jessa grew up in a family that took small children everywhere. TLC even has a recap of an episode in which the Duggar children turned cartwheels and ran through a wedding dress shop when Michelle Duggar sought a dress for her vow renewal!
However, if Jessa Duggar Seewald doesn’t intend to merely address how to look current and cute while showing minimal skin, but to address the dangers (as ATI teaches) of immodest dress, then that might explain why the youngest girls aren’t welcome. However, passing on warnings to nine-year-olds that sexual assault can be caused by a too-short skirt is alarming in itself.
In fact, Jessa’s own clothing and styling choices have been criticized, since definitions of modesty vary. However, in the book Growing Up Duggar, Jessa and her oldest three sisters explained that they define modesty as covering up, and not as including any rules against make-up and hairstyling, which they describe as a good way to draw attention to the face (and thus away from the body). Seewald has also been criticized for wearing shorts or pants, as well as for wearing tight tops.
Jessa Duggar Seewald isn’t the only family member jumping back onto the public speaking circuit, either. Her husband Ben is scheduled this summer to speak at an event about trusting the Gospel.
[Featured Image by Jessa Duggar Seewald/Facebook]