Teen program fosters modest dress, community service - Catholic Courier

Teen program fosters modest dress, community service

PITTSFORD — When Tiara Bonifacio’s mother told her about the Pure Fashion program, the eighth-grader at Burger Middle School jumped at the chance to participate.

Tiara, 14, said that the fashion show to promote modest dress for girls interested her because she would like to be a fashion designer some day. Plus, she added, she liked the idea of being a role model for other girls.

Christina Guzm√°n agreed. This will be the second year the 14-year-old freshman at Pittsford Sutherland High School will model for Pure Fashion and participate in the monthslong preparation process. The teens, who are among the growing number of Hispanic girls getting involved in the Pure Fashion movement locally and nationally, spoke about their experiences at Christina’s house on May 27.

“I tell my friends (about dressing modestly) and try to advise them,” Christina said. She and her family have been parishioners at Church of the Transfiguration for 15 years, said her mother, Beatriz Guzm√°n.

Christina said that it’s easy for her to not give in to peer pressure about dressing in the latest, more revealing clothing styles that she sees some girls at her school wear.

“I have a firm faith,” she remarked. “Dressing modestly is really important to me.”

This year’s Pure Fashion show will be the third one locally, said Anne Olek, this year’s coordinator. Olek and Carmen Ana Klosterman, who is from Puerto Rico, have alternated organizing the program since it began in the Rochester area. Two of Klosterman’s daughters will model in this year’s show.

Of the 20 girls participating this year, nine are Hispanic, Olek said. In Atlanta, where the program originated, organizers have been working to attract more Hispanic models, she added. The increased interest from Latina girls in the Rochester area is largely due to Klosterman’s personal connections, Olek observed.

“It’s so neat to see the girls, the different cultures and diversity in the group,” she noted.

The Pure Fashion concept grew out of Regnum Christi, a Catholic lay ecclesial movement that began in Mexico, Olek explained. Some shows are organized through ties to Girls Challenge Clubs, which encourage service and developing faith in Christ, according to www.purefashion.com. All shows are open to girls of any faith between the ages of 14 and 18, according to information on the program’s Web site. The entry fee is $350, said Olek, who added that the organizers would love to find more sponsors to give more girls the opportunity to sign up for the show.

During the preparation process leading up to the show, organizers offer a retreat as well as monthly sessions on such topics as manners, inner and outer beauty, and community service, Olek said.

This year’s community service focused on children, she noted. Several of the girls spent part of the afternoon June 1 in Rochester at Catholic Family Center’s Sanctuary House and Women’s Place, which both offer shelter for women and children.

At Sanctuary House the girls helped several elementary-age children paint clay pots and make ice cream sundaes, said Christina and Amaryllis Labue, a junior at Rochester’s Aquinas Institute. They also played with the children on an adjacent playground, they said.

“I wanted to make a difference and make them feel they were really important,” said Amaryllis, 16. “That made my day when I saw how happy they were … running toward us and wanting to hang out with us.”

Christina said that the children had an impact on her as well and helped her be more grateful for what God has given her.

“It kind of made me more humble,” she said. “It was a really good experience.”

Lisa Santiago said that she recommended the Pure Fashion program to her daughters, Tiara and Amaryllis, because of its focus on faith and modesty. Santiago’s family is from Puerto Rico.

“With fashion going in different directions, the fact that it’s Pure Fashion and Christian based, it made me comfortable as a mother,” Santiago said.

Pure Fashion organizers have had mostly good luck finding modest clothing that offers such comfort to parents, said Olek, except for selecting a prom dress this year that would be suitable for any of the girls to wear. So, the girls have been asked to come up with a design, she said, and the winner will have her dress made and will model it during the show, which will be Oct. 4 at Henrietta’s Rochester Institute of Technology Inn & Conference Center.

Santiago said that Tiara is excited about the design contest, especially since their family comes from a long line of seamstresses. Amaryllis will submit an entry as well.

Sofia Fern√°ndez, who a year ago moved from Mexico to Pittsford, learned about Pure Fashion through her friendship with Christina. She added that she has enjoyed participating in the entire process.

“It’s helping me learn a lot,” said Sofia, a freshman at Pittsford Sutherland High School. “It gives you a good idea of what a lady should do … and how to wear (clothing) without sending a bad message.”

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