Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Modesty


I write a lot of blog posts about my kids, but I often wish I had time to write posts about other things…like modesty. Haha! Random, right? 

If I had time to write about the things that are on my mind, conversations that I have with Steve or other people, my blog would be a lot different. So, while this may seem totally random compared to the usual flavor of my blog, it’s not random to my life and the kinds of things I think about and/or talk about on a daily basis. 

I am actually thinking about modesty today. Steve and I have been talking about it lately because, although we don’t have to be concerned quite yet, we do have two girls who are quickly approaching an age where it will be an issue. 

This might have started because I was laughing the other night as I wore a sundress with thin rope-like straps to church. The dress was long and didn’t feel immodest at all, but I was thinking about how, what seems like a very short while ago (although it was when I was 15 or 16, mid 90’s), my friends and I would whisper to each other, “Ahem, your bra strap is showing.” This would be while we were wearing t-shirts. T-shirts. You know, if a t-shirt shifts too far to one side or the other you might see a tiny hint of strap.  It is laughable now – but we were so modest. Nothing we wore was too short, too low, too revealing. I think I basically wore jeans and t-shirts or sweatshirts every day of my life.

And now things have changed. Even as a 30 year old mother of 3 I struggle with thinking about modesty when so many things that are in style are so immodest. I like clothes, and I like to wear things that are in style. It’s not that I think that because I am a mother I should be concerned about immodesty. I mean, I don’t think, “Oh, I shouldn’t wear that because I am a mother and getting too old, or because I have stretch marks, or don't look "good" in that.” I think, “Oh, I shouldn’t wear that because I am mother and I would not want my daughters walking around in something like that.” And pretty soon they are going to start noticing what I am wearing. And when they want to wear something that is “less” than what I wear I don’t want to be a hypocrite. 

But then, as Steve and I talked about, what exactly is modest vs. immodest these days? I used to be of the opinion, and actually still am, that if I was wearing a dress or skirt that would only cover certain areas by an inch or two when I bent over that it was too short. Well, it seems like almost every dress for sale in stores these days is immodest. Very frustrating. I also think that shorts that don’t have a few inches, as in 3 or 4 not 1 or 2,  of material that measure from the inseam are too short. However, I looked for shorts in Target a few weeks ago and they literally didn’t have a pair that were between the 1 or 2 inches and knee length. 

I chose not to wear a shirt that I had first put on while getting dressed on Sunday. I decided it was too low cut, but then opted for the totally socially acceptable “showing of the bra straps” by wearing a dress with thin straps. You can see why this was laughable to me. And when and why did I decide that was an acceptable change?

Steve posed the question to me recently, and I had to tell him that I honestly don’t know (based off the question: Do women ask themselves if something is modest/immodest anymore?), do women just not care? Do we put on the low cut shirt, notice that it is really low and revealing, and not care? Do we think it is modest…even when it isn’t? And why? Because it’s in style? Because of the attention? What is immodest for most people these days? Because, really, it doesn't seem like much. Honestly though, do you really want guys, and girls, to be noticing just one certain area of your shirt all day long

I had this friend back in high school that one of my guy friends told me was one of the most beautiful women he knew. He also pointed out that she never wore anything even questionably immodest, therefore, what she was wearing did not make her more or less beautiful. When did we get so shallow that our beauty started to be defined by how much bare skin we can show and how good said skin looks while it is bare? It seems to me that women seem to think that wearing less and less makes them more and more beautiful. All I think it really does is draw attention. 

And why do we want that kind of attention? I mean, do we really want that kind of attention? Do you want your husbands (or boyfriends) noticing another woman because of the way that she is (barely) dressed? Probably not…but we choose to do it to other men all the time in the clothing choices that we make. (And why? Is it for personal gratification? "Wooing" our mate? Poor self image? And, does that justify?) And that's just the attention from men. While men are looking at the niceness of bare skin, women are looking at the bare skin and judging whether or not it actually looks nice enough (by their standards) to be showing. And all that could be avoided by wearing something with a few more inches of material.

And if girls are struggling with “barely there” clothing choices now, how much worse is it going to be in 10 years from now when my daughters are struggling with it?  Is that even something I want them to spend time thinking about, putting energy into? I remember as a teenager being frustrated with the fact that guys could wear whatever they wanted or, say, take their shirt off if they got hot while raking the yard. It would be nice, as a woman, to have that same freedom...but should my freedom be limited by my care and concern for my daughters and all the men in my life? Yes, I would say so. It's just the way things have to be right now.

This is what I am thinking about today. Anybody have any thoughts they want to share? Anybody have any experience with how you are teaching your daughters about it? Anybody have any thoughts about modest or immodest “guidelines” for the rest of us?

3 comments:

Kayla said...

I think about modesty all the time. Lol, I still even think about the bra strap thing! I've thought about it a lot lately partially because one of my teachers flipped out on me one night in class because I wore a tank top. Before class I had made sure it didn't show my bra strap, it wasn't low cut, it wasn't see through, it wasn't revealing in any way except it showed my arms and she thought that was so inappropriate. To me, and to pretty much everyone I know, I was being extremely modest, but to her, who dresses very old fashion, I was being immodest. We all have different levels of what we think are appropriate or not so it's a hard thing to 'put a cap on'.

I know we all want to look cute, dress fashionably, and what not. But my guidelines are, if you feel uncomfortable about it, it's questionable, or it's a teaser or shows things that probably shouldn't be seen, then don't wear it! Also, it's totally possibly to be fashionable and modest at the same time! lol!

Leah said...

Funny you should write this. Adrian and I were talking about this very thing a few days ago. If someone would have asked me what modesty was a few weeks ago I would have said "keeping yourself covered", but now I can say that I believe the virtue of modesty is realizing the sexual weaknesses of others and dressing and acting appropriately. I agree that our "freedom" to dress however we want for whatever reason should be limited out of concern for our girls and the men in our life. After all, true freedom comes from choosing what is good and right, not just doing whatever we want. So glad to hear that we are not the only ones thinking and talking about these things. As far as guidelines, ask your husband - being a man who's concerned about modesty, he would know what clothing would cause inappropriate thoughts. I think one can still dress in style and be modest it's just more difficult when there is so much that is immodest "for sale" -pun intended :)
Leah

Heidi said...

Thanks girls for your comments! Leah, I like your comment "the virtue of modesty is realizing the sexual weaknesses of others and dressing and acting appropriately." I agree :)