On our week of vacation in July, we spent a day at the local water & amusement park. It took just a few minutes in the park for me to wonder…where did modesty go?
I almost hate to write about modesty. It has such an air of legalism and being “out of touch”. I read some articles while researching this post and all I could picture was a woman dressed like she came out of a Little House on the Prairie preaching to me about how my skirts should touch my ankles and my collar be at my neck in order to “bring glory to the Lord”.
I’ve had my own journey with modesty. My mother has always dressed very well – neat, feminine, classy, modest – and mainly from clearance racks and consignment shops. She taught me the value of looking nice without making it more important than it was. She also did not give me free reign over my clothing decisions. I didn’t make it too hard for her since I didn’t have much to show anyway (is it just me or are teenaged girls getting bigger boobs these days?) and I chose mostly to wear age-appropriate clothes. I do remember one time being told to go change. I was swearing a black “skort” (shorts that look like a skirt) and my argument that they were really shorts didn’t fly. “It doesn’t matter,” my mom said. “They look like a skirt and it is too short.”
Even as I gained freedoms in college, I wasn’t much of a flaunter although I have a few recorded outfits I now regret. For example, the sorority event where I decided to go for a rock star look in pleather, skin-tight pants or the night I wore a backless top that drew a lot of attention. And there was the Halloween when a few of us decided to dress as Playboy bunnies. Even though my outfit of a black long-sleeved shirt with an iron-on bunny head and long black skirt were definitely modest against Playboy standards, I know now that the implications of the costume were still the same.
The times I most regret are the career days early in my marriage. It wasn’t that my clothes were grossly immodest, but rather the place where my heart was regarding how I dressed. I dressed to get men’s attention. I worked in sales in a predominantly male industry and found that my looks helped me get meetings and get clients. I was even coached during that time in sales training to use this to my advantage. This goes to show that modesty is less about what clothes you have on, and more about where you heart is when you are making wardrobe choices.
“There is a difference between dressing attractively and dressing to attract.” – Joshua Harris, Not Even a Hint
I don’t think rules about what to wear and what not to wear is how to address the modesty issue. It is an issue that presents itself on the surface, but in fact derives from the deep parts of our heart.
How do we define beauty? What value do we put on ourselves? How aware are we of the struggles that men face every day for pure minds and do we really want to be part of that temptation?
Once again I come to you with more questions than answers, and I still have so many more. Like how to raise my sons to battle this barrage of temptation in a world that flaunts sexuality so openly and so young? Or how does one go about raising a daughter who thinks she is only being “fashionable”? Or how does this affect and play out in our marriages?
Join me in this journey of discovery. Where has modesty gone? What does it look like in our world today?
I’ve taken the liberty over August and our “Day at the Beach” theme to share with you what questions about marriage I most often ponder, but I’d like to get back to your questions. Please send your questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking the button.
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