Modesty Culture – Blaming the Beautiful Girls

I remember the day. It feels as if it was yesterday. It was the first time a guy was “checking me out.” I was in middle school. I was wearing no makeup, a t-shirt, and sweat pants. I had come out of sports practice that evening. I was making a run to the store late at night for a mother’s day gift and was with my father and big sister. It was late in the night, probably around midnight / oneish, not many were in the store. However, there was a group of college aged boys in the store. I noticed that these boys were REALLY nice. I was nieve about these things as a young girl. When the trip was over and we got into the car my father told me that a couple of the boys were coming on to my sister and me. At first I was flattered then it sunk in what really happened. I was embarrassed and ashamed.

That was the first time and I continue to encounter situations such as this. It didn’t matter what I was wearing it happened. I hated that evening for the incident.

I have been taught about modesty all of my life. But modesty culture leaves out some key ideas that are vital to a young girls well being. Through the years I have heard,

“Dress modestly and don’t cause your brother in Christ to stumble.”

“When you show that bra strap, he’s only thinking about were it is leading to.”

“Boys are pigs! They only think about sex.”

“It is YOUR job to protect a man’s heart.”

I dread the dress code assembly at the beginning of the school year. Every girl walks away feeling embarrassed about having a sexual body. We are taught that the only thing a boy sees in us is a body to have sex with.

I have always been a part of modesty culture my entire life, and  I honestly feel punished for being beautiful. No matter how I dress men still cat call, flirt, wink, smile, and try to get me in their bed. It is hard trying to find male friends. I don’t flirt with them, I try to dress cute, not sexy, and I think that I treat them like any other friend. But as I
look back on my high school years, only a select few of those boys that I once called “friends” haven’t pressured me to have sex with them. It’s disappointing when I think that I actually have a male friend but then after too long they start coming on to me.

Modesty culture teaches that girls are responsible for men’s thoughts, so when I deal with a bad boy, I blame myself. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to be beautiful. When will modesty culture teach men to take responsibility for their thoughts and actions? I am a beautiful young lady who loves God, who has come in contact with many men who don’t respect femalea. I am not ashamed of the body and face He has given me. I won’t change the way I dress. I won’t try to be sexy. I will still strive for modest and cute, but I am no longer going to take responsibility for the actions of others, because in reality it is purity in their heart that needs to change — not my clothes or my make-up.

There’s a a hash tags in social media. This is #thefirsttimeiwascatcalled. I had to learn how to deal with men trying to flirt with me at a young age. Fortunately, I never had a catcalling until I was older. The first time I was cat called was prom night. My girlfriends and I wanted have some fun after our big night. Well, there was nothing godly to do late at night in the town we were in. We decided to go to the twenty-four hour grocery store to buy some junk food before our big sleepover. We had previously changed out of our dresses, but we still had our hair up and make-up done. We looked stunning. When we were paying for our items we were whistled at. As we tried to leave, they yelled some degrading words to us. They started to follow us outside, but we walked swiftly to the car and drove away quickly.

The danger of saying that it’s the girl’s job to protect the men’s heart is the female is the victim of modern day sexism, harassment, and sexual assault and she will likely blame herself. I know I certainly have. I understand that God instructs women to be modest. Modesty is great, but God always says to protect your heart and keep it pure. Modesty isn’t completely about wearing fingertip long shorts. It is a heart issue. You can dress “modestly” and still be sexual permiscuous.

Summer is approaching and as every girl at bible summer camp hears about modesty, I challenge you to look at it in a different way. Remember that most importantly you are not at fault for men’s actions. If you are catcalled when walking home at night, it’s not your fault. Young girls, especially, need to hear this because is not being taught in churches. It is a two-sided issue. Protect your heart — both men and women. Lastly, live and dress as if Jesus was coming over for dinner. What would you want your heart to look like if you were having a conversation with Jesus? In the end, modesty is a heart issue in both genders.

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