I live in a land of perpetual spandex. Everywhere you go women seem to be on their way to or from a workout wearing yoga pants or something of the like. On top of this we seem to be bent on resurrecting the 80’s as leggings and tights have made their way back on top once more. We’ve modernized this look by placing pockets in the back, coloring them a shade of denim and calling them “jeggings.” At least in that decade we coupled these with long sweaters and shirts every time. Not anymore. A friend of mine posted a very funny infograph a couple of months ago along these lines entitled, “How To Know If You’re Wearing Pants.”
While I consider all of the above ridiculous and even at times inappropriate I never realized they were an issue of immodesty. That is until I came across a blog post that spoke on the topic. As a matter of fact it has seemed like these “modesty” posts have been really quite the rage for the last several months. There have been many Moms who have asked girls to watch themselves for their sons. Young women have spoken out on how it is their responsibility to keep “pure” for the guys in their lives.
Now don’t get me wrong. I have two daughters at home in that teen range. Sometimes we walk through the mall, and I will point out the “never” outfits. You know, those items this parent will never allow them to don on their bodies.
It begs the real question about what modesty is and what it is not. In the 18th century it was considered terribly immodest for a woman to show their ankles. In some cultures it is considered risque for a woman to show her face to anyone other than her husband. There was a time when men wore tights and this was simply considered the “style.”
So what are the constants in this issue?
It’s Not Just A Girl Issue
We have the tendency to keep telling our young ladies to help protect the purity of guys. At the same time, we allow our girls to drool over a shirtless guy. The idea that “only boys” are visual is a terrible misnomer. We women can easily take a second glance at something that causes us to to “stumble.” We need to be teaching our boys and girls to be sensitive to what might cause someone to “lust” after you.
When I first moved to Florida I was shocked at what the “good Christian” teens wore. Tank tops, strapless shirts and bikinis were all regular attire for the girls. Guys found excuses on a regular basis to remove their shirts and wear low slung board shorts. It didn’t take me long to realize why. It’s hot there. Most of the year it’s over 80 with 70% or higher humidity. It was less about modesty and more about the ability to not feel like you are on fire. Styles change and they sometimes expose more or less skin. We need to find ways to teach our students how to deal with the ever-morphing culture.
It’s A “Heart Issue.”
A young woman asked me once if I thought her shorts were too short. I asked her why she wore them. If she wore them so that boys would look twice and decide she was “sexy” well then yes they were. If she genuinely thought they were “just the style,” then it was for her to decide with God. Anytime, a girl or guy starts dressing so that someone will drool a little over them, then they are dressing immodestly in my opinion. It isn’t always about what someone wears, sometimes it’s about why they wear it. Now that does not mean that we have an excuse to join a nudest colony because our “heart is in the right place.” This is a constant navigation. We are held responsible when we follow the Lord to be in the world but not get sucked into it. We must be very careful about why we wear what we wear. It’s a constant assessment.
It’s Not Just For “Them”
This is not merely an issue for the young. I wonder if there are times we point fingers because we wish we had the “body to wear that?” We can think this “modesty” thing is just for the young because they are the ones “struggling.” If in our deepest soul we wish we could wear it, that’s immodesty too.
Modesty is a much more complicated topic than we give it credit for. I think we would like it to simply be about a list of rules of “what not to wear” and then it’s dealt with. The reality is that it is much deeper than that. When we are totally head over heels in love with Jesus, then we have a deep desire to live differently. We fight a little less about what we should and shouldn’t wear and navigate this track with Him in mind. I think that is what we need to be teaching the next generation and ourselves. I also think us Moms need to write some posts to sons about how to dress so my daughter isn’t “crushing” on you. We’re all responsible.
What do you think about this topic?
How are you dealing with it yourself and then teaching your students?
Leneita / @leneitafix