Modesty: What’s In A Word?

Answer: A whole heck of a lot! As I mentioned in my intro post, I grew up in an Evangelical home attending an Evangelical church and thus I learned from an early age that modesty was of the utmost importance. In fact, girls should take it upon themselves to protect their seemingly powerless brothers in Christ from the temptation and sin of lust! We do this by following three simple guidelines:

  1. No tight jeans/short skirts!
  2. No cleavage! (i.e. must wear color coordinated tank top under V-neck/low cut shirt at all times)
  3. Absolutely NO BIKINIS!

Let me be the first to tell you that training girls like this is harmful in so many ways. For me it produced a kind of self-hatred. I didn’t realize this until a few months ago when reading another blog on this topic. As an adolescent girl I always felt like I didn’t have any body image issues. My nose wasn’t too small, my lips and ears weren’t too big, my hair wasn’t the wrong color, and I loved food too much to stop eating it!

But I did have issues. My face was too beautiful and my body was too attractive. Every time someone told me how pretty I was, I cringed inside. Every time a guy looked at me in that way I felt like I was letting them down. There were even multiple times that I asked God why he made me look like this!?

So for all those people who consistently ask me why I’ve never dated and why I’m not dating, here’s your answer: “I’m not comfortable with a man being attracted to my physical body.” And that is a shame. Because God did make me look like this. He made me in His image- heart, mind, soul, and BODY- and He is beautiful, so why shouldn’t I be? Not to mention, the physical part of any relationship is also very important!

I had these crazy fantasies about finding a guy who, when I asked him why he liked me, would say things like my intellect, my sense of humor, my passion for truth and justice, my desire to know God…and who wouldn’t mention my physical body. Turns out, guys don’t exclude that last part, and I’m glad! PS~ if they do, they’re 1) lying or 2) not the guy for you! (actually if they’re lying to you, they shouldn’t be the guy for you either)

I’m not saying that the idea of modesty is something to be thrown out the window, but I do think it’s something we need to reevaluate. Maybe I’ll post my thoughts on what consider it to be tomorrow 😉

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I have broken all of the modesty rules: I love skinny jeans, no longer wear tank tops under all of my V-neck/low cut shirts, and have been spotted poolside in a bikini.


7 thoughts on “Modesty: What’s In A Word?

  1. Pingback: Modesty: A Definition | Simply Sex(uality)

  2. I’m sorry that you felt shamed into dressing modestly. I’m sorry that no one ever spelled out that guys are responsible for their self-control. And having read the blog post that you linked I realize how very blessed I was to have the mother I did and the grace-filled church family that I did. My mom is a beautiful, sexy woman who has always dressed well and looked good and taught me to do the same. My church leaders rarely bring up the subject because we like to accept people just as they are. Their spiritual walk is more important than what they wear.

    I dress fairly modestly. I might wear tight pants and some of my tops or dresses might show some skin, but it’s never like “Hello boobies.” I grew up fully aware that if a guy is lusting after me it is his fault. I also was aware that some guys would be lustful even if I wore a baggy, floor-length, burlap sack. I never felt shamed into dressing modestly and I still don’t. Out of consideration and love for my brothers in Christ I want to make it easy for them to be around me and be friends with me, not constantly trying not to look at my body (Shaunti Feldhahn’s chapter ‘Keeper of the Visual Rolodex’ in her book For Women Only explains this PERFECTLY and I definitely recommend that book). I want to HELP them, because I love and respect them, just ask I would appreciate their help with my own strugles.

    I really don’t think about this issue very much. I look good. I’m stylish, not dowdy, and even sexy sometimes. I don’t have to show all of my legs or a great amount of cleavage to be sexy, nor do I really have the desire to. I don’t need to show off my assets to feel good about myself. Nor do I feel the need to hide my beauty, slouch, or look plain. And I’m not saying any of this to shame you or anyone who is breaking free of the oppression of the lie that your body is a shameful, bad thing. It isn’t at all and I’m so glad God is giving you a truthful image of your beautiful self! I just thought I’d share where my modesty is coming from. Keep fighting for freedom and writing great things!

    • Ace! Thank you so much for this. Beautifully said. I remember during a church purity retreat I attended in high school a guy made the comment that a girl could wear a trash bag and he could still lust after her and I was completely shocked. I felt like everything I had been taught about my ability to protect my brothers in Christ was a lie and I felt so guilty that I was unable to protect them. Blah.

      It’s so good to hear that your mom modeled such a healthy example of modesty and body image! I have a request: would you be willing to write a guest post for my blog about how your mom influenced your view of your sexuality (modesty/body image maybe)? In April, I’m doing a series on how parents affect their children’s view of their sexuality. If you’re interested feel free to email me and I can explain it more!

      Also, I will definitely look up that book 🙂

  3. Great post! Reading what you shared about feeling that your body was too attractive immediately reminded me of another lady who felt the same way–she writes about it in this blog post:

    I’m sorry that any woman would have to feel that way about herself. 😦 Not going to lie–we notice women that we find attractive (and guys differ on that)–but beauty takes many forms besides the physical!

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