In the heat of the day, I crashed for an hour in the recliner under the air conditioner. My daughter crashed in my husband’s recliner, and she turned on a television show on TLC called “Say Yes to the Dress Bridesmaids.” The show was about brides who go with their bridesmaids to pick out dresses. This is not something I would have watched on my own, but hey, I was just trying to cool off and revive so I could cook and wash dishes later.
One of the brides wanted the bridesmaids dressed in sleeveless, strapless gowns, and one of her bridesmaids (her best friend) objected to the lack of modesty and was not going to wear the dress. I found myself cheering her on and hoping that she stood her ground. At one point the bride gave her an ultimatum and told her that she could either wear the sleeveless dress or be a hostess instead of a bridesmaid. Her friend said she would rather be a hostess than to wear the dress.
I wish that was the end of the story, but there is more. The bride cried, the other bridesmaids rallied around her, and in the end her friend relented and wore the immodest dress that she was not comfortable wearing. To make matters worse, the television show played up the idea that friendship is more important than modesty. I walked out of the room in disgust.
I won’t come down too hard on the friend for buckling under peer pressure. We’ve all been there. It is extremely uncomfortable. It is often very tempting to just give up under pressure. I felt sorry for her. However, I wish she had stood her ground. In these difficult times, it is increasingly difficult, but immensely important to stand firm on principle. If you don’t stand up for your principles, no one else will.
Many years ago, I was a Camp Fire leader. There was a Camp Fire program that I taught to fifth graders called, “I’m Peer Proof.” Oh, how I wish that program could be taught in every school in this country! The kids were taught to decide where the line should be drawn, and then not cross it. They were taught how to combat “put downs” and disparaging remarks from those around them. If that bridesmaid had been “peer proofed,” she would have known how to stand up to the bride and say, “You know what, I love you as a friend, but I need to stand behind my beliefs. I’m sorry you are upset with me, but I need friends who understand my beliefs and will stand behind me. If you’d rather I step down as a bridesmaid, I will do that, but I hope we can remain friends.”
No one, not even a bride, should have the power to coerce someone into deserting their principles. It is time for all of us to stand up and be counted! Sometimes it is necessary to stand alone, but we won’t be alone for long. There is always someone peeking around the corner who will notice and say, “Wow! She’s a rock! I have so much respect for her!” True friends want you to stand by your convictions. True friendship isn’t coercive.