Friday, March 13, 2009

Confessions of a Charm School Teacher

As alluded to in my previous posts late last week, I am teaching a class called "Life Skills" at John Roberts Powers in the Galleria Towers, every other Saturday. JRP is a talent and modelling agency, so they place kids and teens (mostly) in a lot of print ads and TV commercials. They teach runway modelling, do photo shoots, teach acting and dance. The class I teach goes over basic etiquette, fashion tips, makeup, health, etc. So, that's basically like the old-school Charm School.

Emily Post

What is Charm School, you ask? You may be unfamiliar with this idea. But, "back in the day" a lot of young women really didn't go to college after they finished high school. They got married, had babies and kept house. Think, June Cleaver. However, if you were privileged, you might go to Charm School as a young woman, before you were married. In Charm School you learned all sorts of useful information about how to throw fabulous dinner parties for your one-day important husband's colleagues. You learned what to do with a 25-piece placesetting of silver. You learned how to build a wardrobe, including what the rules were about matching your hats and gloves with you handbag. Overall, how to be a charming woman and wife.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and we have young girls wanting to be Hannah Montana and crushing on the Jonas Brothers. Girls with eating disorders. I'm talking about 9 year olds worried about getting fat so they starve themselves. 11 year olds with fake nails and highlights in their hair. Stores like Libby Lou that dress 8 year olds like Brittany Spears and teach them how to shake their booty. (Thank GOD that place has gone out of business! At least in our mall it has.)

I guess in my day we had Madonna and the New Kids on the Block, but everything seems hyped up that much more.

So where does that leave Christian young women? If they really follow Jesus, how can they follow the culture too? Y'all know that I'm no prude, and I definitely won't advocate dressing in those much-feared "missionary dresses", going without make up, and never listening to secular music. I even have fake nails. I love my acrylics, and actually I'm about to get rid of them, but only because I'm trying to save money. I've never dyed my hair, but I'm blessed with pretty good natural highlights. Although, I do keep finding stray grey hairs, so I'm not far away from needing to color.

But I digress. I have this opportunity to teach something that I love, namely etiquette, but also an opportunity to influence young women in a positive way. Wait, you love etiquette? you ask? Yes. I'm just weird like that. I study old etiquette books for fun, and yes, I DO know what to do with a 25-piece placesetting of silver, thank you very much. AND why your hat and gloves should match. Nevermind that it's fairly useless information.

Sorry, digressing again. JRP has no curriculum for this class, or, rather, they did, but the last instructor took the manual with her and never returned it. They have given me carte blanche to teach what I want, I have only a basic outline of general subjects to go through. Like I said, a great opportunity to influence young women. Hopefully I can teach them something about inner beauty, not just the outer looks and behavior. Because I believe one of the reasons to be concerned with teaching etiquette and manners is that it reflects who you are on the inside, and if you are a Christ-follower, it reflects Him. Are we not called to love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness? Having "good manners" means that you are treating others kindly, with respect, and etiquette is merely a tool to help you do that. But, I have to translate this for a secular setting, for ages 4-19.

So, more to come about my adventures as a "Charm School" teacher, as I'm sure that I'll have interesting and funny stories. But for now, let me hear from you. If you have daughters, how do you instill godly values? What do you think about manners? Any tips on teaching really young kids manners?


Rachel said...

Every time I hear the phrase "Charm School", it reminds me of Awana's. Do you remember, in Guards, when we did a semester of Charm School? Or did they have it the year you were in there? It was actually really fun, but the pictures (and some of the ideas) in the book were HILARIOUSLY outdated.

I mean these pictures of what to wear HAD to have been from the 40's or 50's.

But I loved it.

I specifically remember Debbie V. coming in with TONS of makeup samples.

Oh and I remember that we had to determine what face shape we had (to help us know what kind of hairstyle to have), so we paired off, and Tiffany V. (H.) was my partner and she told me I had a square or round face.

Which is true,

But I was mortified.


Steven & Tiffany said...

Haha! I never thought of that day until now...Rachel, you have a beautiful face! I hope I didn't scar you for life.

I think it's awesome that you get to have influence in these girls' lives, and think it's so important to teach inner beauty. One thing I do with my choir girls is ask them if they know somebody who is pretty, but not gets them thinking about the difference. I ask them if they have ever met someone who they thought was very pretty, but when they got to know the person, they were rude and it made them seem ugly. You can also ask the reverse...have they ever known somebody who was very plain, but they were so sweet and kind that they became beautiful to them. It's a great way to start talking about how what's inside is where beauty comes from. I hope you have a chance to share your own testimony and talk about Christ.

It is so cool to see kids come to know really does change their countenance when His beauty shines through! I hope it goes really well. I'm sure you'll do great!

MaryMartha said...

I was forced through many "Miss Manners" courses. I think they have different classes for different ages! Actually, I'm pretty glad I learned that stuff too.
I'm thinking of sending Garret to sometype of "Mr. Manners" yesterday he wrote a thank you note and thankfully I checked it..I keep reminding him you just can't scratch out mutiple words, write over it and still send THAT letter. HE thinks I'm crazy :)
My little ones are already learning manners too! I found a book where all the disney princess' teach manners. As in Cinderella always says please and thank you. Belle always chews with her mouth closed. It works pretty good for them :)

Rachel said...

(sniff) it's okay, Tiffany. After years of counseling, I have come to terms with my reproachfully shaped face. (sniff).

Just kidding. I DID catch myself looking in the mirror at it tonight due to this discussion, and I think it has maybe lengthened out a bit. Or I've lost a bit of my chubby cheekity (hopefully). :)

So Ann Marie - did you get the pleasure of going to Awana Charm School like us? Because you would have L-O-V-E-D it!!

Ann Marie said...

You know, I have no memory of doing that in guards. I'm sure I was in there with y'all. It's not like I'm so much older... I'll ask mom. If I did, I'm sure shell remember!
Thanks for all the tips for younger ones! MM, I'm going to look for the princess books today! They would be perfect!