An 11-year-old girl from Redmond, Washington, says she has had enough of the low-cut, tight-fitting styles of today. And recently she did something about it.

Rising sixth-grader Ella Gunderson wrote a letter to a Nordstrom department store, complaining of how few modest clothing choices were available for girls. She says she had two very important reasons for objecting to the immodest styles she found so prevalent on the store's racks: "One, they're not comfortable, and two, you really shouldn't sacrifice your human dignity for the sake of fashion."

The Seattle-area youngster wrote that, while clothes shopping at a local Nordstrom store, a clerk had suggested to her that "there is only one look," a bit of fashion advice Ella resisted. "If that is true," she wrote to Nordstrom, "then girls are suppost (sic) to walk around half naked. I think that you should change that." Ella also stated, "I see all these girls who walk around with pants that show their belly button and underwear. Even at my age, I know that is not modest."

The child's letter, which founds its way up the Nordstrom's corporate ladder -- all the way to executive vice president Pete Nordstrom -- drew an overwhelming response and prompted company officials to write back, promising to offer a wider range of clothes. And as Ella's mother, Pam Gunderson, notes, not only did Nordstrom's write back, but so did almost every girls' clothier around. "There seems to be a note that was struck that really spoke to a lot of people about this," she says.

But the very thing that struck such a resonant chord with the clothiers merely struck Gunderson and her daughter as obvious: that the trend toward provocative and immodest garb has been taking over in the clothing industry. "I think the funny thing for us is that we don't think it's news. We think anyone who's been buying clothing for girls or women has known this for a long time," she says.

Nevertheless, the Seattle-area family found themselves in a media maelstrom after word spread about Ella's letter. So not long afterwards, Ella and her friends in a Catholic girls group called Challenge took advantage of the spotlight and held a fashion show to demonstrate what kind of clothing they wanted to wear.

Gunderson says the windfall of fame her daughter's letter prompted was unexpected, but God led the message. And she adds, what has been great about the whole experience is "the prayer power behind it."

The mother says her family and the others involved started praying a special Catholic prayer called the Novena nine days before the fashion show. "Our whole prayer was just that it would be God's will," she explains, "just that the fashion show would be whatever He wanted it to be and would speak to whomever He wanted to hear about it."

Gunderson says right after the group started praying, a story appeared about them in the local paper. And soon afterward, she adds, news outlets around the country began to take notice as well.

An article in the Catholic Northwest Progress, a publication of the Archdiocese of Seattle, notes that Ella Gunderson has so far been interviewed on NBC's Today show and on CNN about her campaign for more modest clothing style choices, and that newspapers and magazines around the country have helped spread her pro-modesty message, as have thousands of Internet publishers.


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