Modesty

Last week a friend of mine posted on modesty. She argued that we are to dress for ourselves and not for others. She said how modesty is ‘choosing to dress a certain way based on personal choice.’ And you know what, she got alot of backlash for that.

The whole modesty debate is so sticky because despite what some people think, you can not simply declare, ‘wear this and not that and therefore you will be Modest’. It is a simplistic approach that completely ignores the fact that we have different body types. There are busty gals who unless they wear a turtle neck, they will show cleavage. There is nothing wrong with them.

Note that I said ‘them’. What bothers me the most about the modesty debate is that it puts gals with certain body types in a lose-lose situation. If they dress in a way that flatters their figure, they are told they are being immodest. When you are curvy, or busty, unless you wear completely shapeless clothes, it will be clear you are busty or curvy. So if these girls dress in those shapeless clothes, they are told they are being dowdy.

No woman should be shamed for her body. Whatever her shape. And I believe every lady should be allowed to dress in a manner that makes them feel beautiful.

Modesty is an attitude. It is how you carry yourself, you present yourself to the world. How you dress has little to do with it. The busty gal who is showing some cleavage, can be more ‘modest’ then the girl who is wearing a tight turtle neck and a long skirt.

But the main reason I think the modesty culture should be talked about is because of the thinking behind it: that women are responsible for another human being’s thinking. I cannot tell you how many things I’ve read or heard, or sat through about not letting our ‘brothers in Christ stumble’. My mom put it best, for some men you could be wearing a ‘potato sack’ and they will still have lust in their heart. These men are accountable to God for their thoughts, you are not accountable for their thoughts. And before I go further, there are men who struggle, and I have great respect for those who work hard against letting their thoughts wander. I have more respect for those men, then the ones who think ‘oh, had a lustfull thought, it’s that girl over there’s fault.’

This attitude that is being taught, that men are incapable of controlling their own thoughts and actions, is insulting to men. In my opinion, it is even more insulting to men, than to the women who are told they are responsible for keeping these men from stumbling. Those who argue this are basically saying that men are incapable of controlling themselves if someone might be wearing a low top.

Both men and women, we are accountable for our own thoughts and actions. If I see a handsome young man, I am responsible for my thoughts. Not him. Regardless of what he is wearing. Same goes for men, they are accountable for their thoughts.

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5 comments

  1. I agree that men are responsible for their thoughts, but think we have a responsibility to dress in ways that won’t prompt good men who otherwise have pure thoughts to think of us as sex objects — ie, super short skirts and low tops. Men ARE different from women in that they’re sexually stimulated visually; we need to remember that when on a shopping trip.

    I’ve actually held back from showing a few costume dramas to guys before, because the Regency tops were so low. I don’t mind doing it, and I hope most of them would appreciate my desire to help them avoid temptation — just as I hope they would help me avoid temptation if the situation were reversed.

  2. I think it is up to each of us to decide how we choose to present ourselves to the world. I choose to dress in a way that would generally be considered modestly, I choose this out of respect for the environment I am in. And for respect for the men I am around. But I am very hesitant to say I am *responsible* for dressing this way…because once the language is such that it is our responsibility to dress a certain way then it is very easy to slip into that the responsibility is *off* the man for treating a woman poorly, physically or mentally, if she is dressed in a way that could be deemed immodest.

    1. I think that standardizing modesty is very close to legalism, which I don’t like at all, but it does make me uncomfortable when I see super sexy mini-outfits on Christian girls. I saw that movie about the Christian girl dating a nonbeliever (um… “I Fell In Love With a Church Girl” or something like that?) when it came out and her immodesty made me cringe — I get it that she’s gorgeous, but did I really need to see that much cleavage? It was a good movie, but the way she dressed had my girlfriends and me side eyeing one another.

      The way we dress not only impacts other people, it tells the world what we think of ourselves. It’s hard to think a girl in a super skimpy outfit respects her body, but then, I’m a super introvert so I try and wear things that both keep me feeling comfortable and don’t draw any attention to myself — pretty, fashionable, but modest. I went on a date recently and wore a tank top — and I was forever tugging the back down, out of concern that in leaning forward to eat, I was giving him too much of an eye full. Sorry, bud — only my husband, if he exists, will get to see very much of me. He told me later that he appreciated it, because it indicated to him that I was thinking about being appropriate.

      1. I haven’t seen that movie, but I’ve never seen a movie portray a Christian girl in a manner that was not immodest or purposefully dowdy.

        In real life, I have seen more often a girl (in Christian circles) who was trying to dress modestly, and was torn down for being ‘immodest’ then I have seen girls who were dressed in mini-outfits.

        I admit, I distracted now by this question: how did your date go??

  3. You’ll have to watch it, then — short, very tight skirts and pretty low necklines. It surprised me a lot because usually you’re right — and Christian movies take care about that. This one glammed her up into a hot Latino chick.

    I rotate in nondenominational churches now where no one cares — so I see a lot of super-short shorts and skirts among the teenagers. =/

    It went fine. 🙂

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