I have struggled with modesty issues since high school. The fight that goes on in my brain follows thusly (I just wanted to use the word “thusly”): “It isn’t right to be skanky, I don’t want to be indecent or look like I’m offering up goods I’m not offering.” “It’s ok to be pretty, dang it, and if I have nice legs than why can’t I wear a short skirt? My butt isn’t hanging out or anything…” Variations on the theme include (you can sort out which side of the argument they belong to):
“All the important parts are covered, and I’m wearing much more than most girls my age.”
“If people think I’m immodest then they have judgment issues.”
“I shouldn’t have to dress like a Puritan to be considered modest. I’m modern day modest.”
“Guys just notice me because I’m blonde, it has nothing to do with what I wear.”
“I want to impress a good Christian guy, so I should dress like a good Christian girl.”(now moot since I’m married)
“I don’t want to attract any unwanted attention because I want my body to be just for my hubby.”
“I don’t think being married should mean I have to wear ugly, baggy clothing.”
You get the point. Here are some contributing factors that developed along the way. I was raised in a good Christian home and went to a good Christian Southern Baptist church. I mean “good” non-sarcastically, I am very grateful for my upbringing, but once I hit the “Teen Youth Group” bye-bye Bible studies and how to live right, and hello “DON’T HAVE PREMARITAL SEX OR DRESS LIKE A WHORE!” and that was it. Every youth group. Or at least that’s what it seemed like. And to make matters more confusing “Modesty” was never really explained and it seemed to break down along the following lines: If you looked pretty/attractive-you were an immodest slut tempting your poor brothers in Christ (I STILL hate that argument for modesty). If you dressed like you were 8 years old, 50 years out of date, or looked ugly- praise to the virtuous young lady!
I hit puberty late. So, up until I was 15 I was teased and bullied for pretty much everything, including my glasses, and braces, and flat chest, and bony build, and height….you get the picture. Modesty wasn’t an issue, I was firmly in the “ugly” category. I turned 15 and I lost braces, got contacts, and finally could turn in the trainer bra for a real one. The first time a sleazy construction worker whistled at me I blushed bright red and was on an emotional high for the rest of the day. To have people think I was attractive after years of being ridiculed was, well, wonderful. BUT it quickly landed me in the “immodest” category. Some of what I wore was immodest, not horribly so, but definitely not something I would wear now, at least not in public. But mostly I was a teenage girl struggling with her identity and after being picked on for years for being ugly was not so quick to jump on the modesty bandwagon being touted by her church.
College was a different story. I vacillated between still liking the whistles, and wanting to be more than “Fresh Meat” as the fraternities so nicely called the freshman girls. Then several incidents happened, some of which I never reported, and one where the police kindly told me there was nothing they could do. They weren’t super serious issues by today’s standards-although I’m not comfortable sharing on cyberspace-but they were enough to make me hate being attractive on some level. And for a year I threw the modesty book out the window and showed how ever much or little I wanted because I was so angry at being misused that I used my appearance as a weapon. Kind of along the lines of “If they’re going to treat me like a commodity than I’m going to make them wish they owned me.” I’m not proud of that, but it’s the truth. I came around slowly, thanks to a God who continued to show me in all sorts of ways that I was not only beautiful inside and out, but valuable-even coveted, to Him. I wish THAT is what I had been taught in Youth Group.
Now, I’m married to a wonderful man who thinks I’m beautiful no matter what I’m wearing, but there is still part of me that wants to look pretty. For years I thought it was wrong to look pretty (attractive=immodest) and although I appreciate someone telling me I look nice who isn’t my husband or close family- I still get a little tinge of guilt along with it. I’m rediscovering the modesty line. And I’m learning that it’s ok to be attractive. I go back and forth, some days I march out of the house in heels and a skirt going “Watch out world!” and then other days I agonize over whether or not my jeans are too tight. I’m slowly learning to dress for myself, not just for how others view me. I think it is important to be modest, I don’t want to be intentionally provocative, but if someone who isn’t my husband thinks I’m attractive when I dress up that doesn’t automatically make me a skank. And if I want to wear four inch heels because they’re super cute shoes, then I’m going to wear 4 inch heels! And so what if my favorite lipstick shade is red, I’m white and I have blue eyes, red lips just make me patriotic. My skimpy little tube tops are no longer going to be worn in public, and I keep a closer eye on my hem lines-but a skirt at mid thigh just because I have long legs does not make me indecent. I don’t have to worry much about cleavage (got to have some to worry about it) but I do keep an eye on shirts that fall open when I bend forward and how tight I wear things.
I initially thought using Brian as a guideline would work; the ol’ “Do you want other guys seeing me in this?” argument. But Brian just shrugs with this look in his eye like “If they try something they won’t last long…” and tells me he thinks I look amazing so I should wear it. So here is my conclusion-I don’t have one yet. I’m still drawing and re-drawing the modesty line everyday-with much prayer and tossing about of clothing. I don’t have any rigid rules, but I do believe that it’s ok for Christian women to dress attractively and I am not sinning by looking pretty. This also holds true for wearing makeup and liking all sorts of jewelry and if every once in awhile I want to dye my naturally blonde hair almost platinum white I do not automatically turn into a playboy bunny.Bikini’s are an issue I still go back and forth on and could probably take up another post entirely and this one is already long enough.
Ok, I know it’s a weighty issue for blog material, especially following a post all about chairs, but I warned you when I switched over to WordPress that my blog bounces all over the place so deal with it.