It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written about modesty.
This is a topic that has gotten me fired up for quite some time. I have sat through dozens of these lectures and through the years I’ve gone from seeing my body in a negative light to a positive one. Heres two semi unrelated questions I have revolving on this topic.
- Why is modesty still a big issue at all-female events?
– This is something I never understood. In my community dress codes were enforced at events that were female only such as PE, dance class, etc. At the beginning of each semester, the teacher would go over the rules and talk about how long our shorts had to be. I would always wonder about the importance of modesty in these situations because not a man would be on site. Boys and men were the ones who were villainized, why did I have to be modest if they weren’t around? It’s kinda like staying in your pajamas all day when you aren’t leaving the house. Yeah, getting dressed in day clothes is a decent idea but not necessary by any means.
The answer I eventually started getting was “Fathers might be picking their daughters up.”
I didn’t think about this answer for ages. It hit me last night how crazy this answer was. If so and so’s dad is “Tempted” by a little girl wearing short shorts, then we have a huge issue here. IF a grown man is openly having impure thoughts over an underage girl, then that man should not be around children. Period.
It is insane to me that I put so much energy into dressing modestly so that I could protect the eyes of adult men. As a pre-teen was genuinely worried about how older men would see me. I believed that it was my sole responsibility to protect myself from being sexualized and even assaulted.
I wasn’t strutting around in the ever so popular booty shorts and crop top. Even if I was, it shouldn’t have affected how men saw my pre-puberty self. I didn’t own anything that was inappropriate. My mom’s rule was that all skirts and dresses had to be at least knee-length and if it was even a smidge shorter, I had to put leggings with it. I had to wear a tank top under every shirt so that my belly didn’t show. And most of my shorts we knee-length MAYBE a little bit shorter. I dressed like the homeschooler that I was.
- Why is every outfit sexualized?
-At the start of each school year, we had the dredged Dress code chapel. Depending on the year, we would get a lecture or watch a video. The boys and girls were separated for this chapel. The guys would never tell me what they talked about at there lecture *if any boys that I went to school with are reading this please send me an email*
The majority of the females left, feeling weird about our bodies and sexuality. I did a quick google search and found a video that we were forced to watch.
We were left feeling/believing that we were constantly being sexualized unless we were wearing a potato sack. At certain points in my life, I hated that I got attention from guys because it made me feel that I wasn’t modest or pure enough. No matter how modest I dressed, I got attention and I felt like something was wrong with me. For me, this led me to being embarrassed/self-conscious for having traditional beauty however that is a whole separate blog post there!
After viewing this convicting (maybe body-shaming is a better way to put it). A short lectured followed it. We were reminded to think of our brothers when getting dressed in the morning (that sounds way more culty when I type it out). We’d be encouraged to think about how our outfits would make the boys feel.
We were told that not only our peers but also our male teachers feel uncomfortable when the dress code was broken. How’s that for a boost of confidence? Your teacher who you are supposed to trust feels tempted when you show a little bit of leg. Again, this goes along with carrying the responsibility to protect the eyes of those who are old enough to be your Dad or even your Grandpa.
We weren’t supposed to wear anything fitted. If we sat down and pinched one inch of fabric on our slacks or skirts and if it snapped back, it was too tight. As someone who was thin, and petite this style did NOT compliment me one bit. I may as well just purchased a pair of Kahki Jnco jeans and called it good.
I wonder how much victim-blaming went on back in the day, and even now.
- Why are men (and women) taught that it’s alright to dehumanize others?
– This question is the gist of purity and modesty culture. This logic is why I started questioning this theology in the first place. If I am being taught that it’s alright to disrespect anyone else because of what they are doing in their personal life and they aren’t hurting anyone, I have an issue with it.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I was told that you don’t deserve respect if you don’t cover-up. To this day, I can still hear the lines, “Why should someone respect you if you can’t respect yourself?” being said to me when having a disagreement about how short the shorts can be. A phrase such as this made it easy to be judgmental of those didn’t follow specific guidelines of Christian modesty.
I am embarrassed to admit that I’ve been guilty of judging females that I didn’t think were dressed modestly. If you’ve felt my judgmental eyes or comments, I humbly ask for forgiveness. I am working on changing my mindset, if you know me personally, please keep me accountable.
When I started modeling, I was CONFLICTED when I started having to purchase clothes that were flattering to my body type (ie short, and tight clothes). I was anticipating to be disrespected because I suddenly had dresses that showed my legs. You know what happened? The religious boys I was spending time with were vocal about the implications of the dress and nothing changed with anyone else.
Respecting myself has nothing to do with what I wear. For me, it’s taking the time to love myself and others even when I’m not feeling it, being open to criticism, finding the courage to stand up for myself when needed, and believing in my innate value, while showing it to others.
In the past few years, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been dressing modestly because I’ve been scared of judgment from others. It took me too long to realize that this isn’t that important in the great scheme of things.
The outfit a woman chooses to put on doesn’t affect you in any way.
- In conclusion, I challenge you to look past the superficial and see others for who they are. These are simply some thoughts on a controversial topic. Be confident, stay away from creepy people, and friend to those in need.
With all of the love,
PC: Christina Mathews Photography