The first time I thought about modesty was a few years ago. The subject took to the blog-world and everyone started debating it. Before that modesty was a non-issue in my life. My style never allowed me to really push the limits with immodest clothes. I’m more of a Banana Republic girl myself – clean, classic, timeless. Modesty is just not one of my struggles, even though I can name a dozen other areas that take its place.
Then I had my baby girl. When you have a baby you begin to think the most bizarre thoughts you never even considered before. Suddenly the gap between “maybe acceptable” and “not-at-all acceptable” tightens. This happened for me when I went to buy her first swimsuit.
Now having said that I typically dress modestly, until last year I did not own a one-piece swimsuit. I can’t really tell you the reason for this except that it’s a swimsuit, and many people wear two-piece swimsuits, and so did I. However, the thought of putting my seven-month-old baby in a two-piece swimsuit made me question possible reasons I would choose that design of swimsuit for her. Which then caused me to imagine her as a seven-year-old saying, “But Mommy, then why do you wear a two-piece swimsuit?” So when I bought her first swimsuit, I bought my first one-piece too.
I’ve continued to think a lot about modesty and how men respond to different variations of modesty in dress. The other day on Facebook a married man commented inappropriately on a woman’s picture. Most people would probably say that the woman was dressed immodestly. However, the man’s comments made me even more indignant about how I want to be treated by men.
You see, to look at the intimate parts of a woman’s body is a privilege. And privileges are earned.
Because we are designed by God, made in His image, fearfully and wonderfully made, we have the right to not be treated as a piece of meat with comments and cackles. Of course we cannot stop men from looking at us. And up to a point we can’t stop comments they say or write. However, we can prevent them from having the upper-hand. The way we do that is by not giving them a privilege they have not earned.
Some view withholding the privilege of seeing all parts of a woman’s body as confining or unjust. Why should women not be allowed to wear what they want, how they want? And are we really responsible for how a man responds to our clothing?
However, in reality the opposite is true. This mindset of our bodies being a privilege to view is empowering. It conveys the message to men that you are in control of your body and you will regulate how much of it is seen. It also conveys the message that you value yourself and your body in such a way that you do not need the attention immodest dress creates.
Sometimes I have imaginary conversations with my daughter to practice what I hope to tell her one day about boys and dating and her own self-worth. I’ll tell you what I hope to tell her:
You, young woman, are beautiful. You are gorgeous. Your body and every detail of it was intricately made with no detail forgotten. You are made in God’s image, fearfully and wonderfully made, and bought at a high price – the blood of Jesus. Because of this your body is too valuable for the intimate parts to be seen freely and commented on disrespectfully. Viewing the intimate parts of your body is a privilege that must be earned. And the only way to earn it is through the covenant of marriage. Because until a man vows to love you like Jesus loves the church, then he has not earned the privilege to see your most intimate places.
What are your thoughts about modesty?