Modesty. I have hated that word for many years. When that word is said, I immediately have flashbacks to lectures, shame, and socially acceptable sexism. I think many females who grew up Christan can relate. Today, I am sharing about a different angle of modesty that I think gets looked over.
In evangelical culture, you dress modestly to protect the hearts of horny guys and represent the Church. Females are taught that their body is inherently sinful and are body shamed as soon as purity hits if not sooner. In a practical manner an outfit that would be considered modest in my circles would be, not showing cleavage, having pants that are not tight and wearing a cami or tank top under tops so that there isn’t a mid-drift. Mini skirts are from the devil himself. Some would take it further and say that females shouldn’t wear pants and the collar bone should be covered up.
At the beginning of the school year, before camp started, or before a youth group outing the boys and girls were separated and someone would give a talk about modesty. They’d talk about how weak men are when we show our shoulders. You can read more about modesty culture here. https://lamaleah.com/2020/02/20/2-thoughts-about-christan-modesty-ive-never-understood-plus-cringy-video/
This was a photo of me and my dog at the 4-H dog conference when I was about 11. Besides how unhappy I was to take a photo, do you notice the tank top under the shirt? I didn’t have cleavage but the little skin that was there was covered. I didn’t stop the cami under everything trend until just a few years ago. Doing that, was a product of growing up in a shame-based modesty culture.
The longer I am out of the evangelical Buble, the more questions I have about what is actually biblical and what’s simply cultural in the church.
I grew up in privilege. Yes, we were not rich by any means but compared to the rest of the world my parents did fine. I have never been hungry or have had to worry about shelter. COVID-19 is the first time that I have really had a reason to be stressed about finances. Side note: for those of you who are concerned, between my boyfriend and me, we are doing alright, our bills are paid and we have food in our refrigerator.
The majority of my peers growing up were privileged as well. They would claim that they weren’t rich and even say that they were poor however the majority of parents were engineers, in the medical field, business owners, or farmers/ranchers. Now, not everyone was on the same level however there was a lack of realization (from me included) of how well we actually had it compared to the rest of our communities.
My mom liked styling me, she’d hit all of the sales racks, go to goodwill, and had pride when she put a cute outfit together. As a result, I had an abundant amount of clothes as a child and to this day I still do. By the time that I moved out of my parent’s house, I had one closet, one clothes rack, a dresser, three shoe racks, and the walls in my bedroom were devoted to clothing storage. I’m pretty sure that the number of outfits I could put together was excessive compared to my high school peers.
My parents bought me clothes that they deemed modest because they had the choice and resources too. You know what happened to items that my mom didn’t think were modest enough for me? Everything went straight into the donation pile.
I am not saying that you can’t be modest on a budget. I am acknowledging that not everyone has the choice to wear skirts that have hemlines that go past the knee. Some are at the mercy of what has been donated to the local nonprofit.
This is a scary time financially for many. With many employers shutting down because of COVID-19, families are struggling to come up with the money for rent and to put food on the table. Making sure that everyone is wearing clothes that the church approves of, is probably not the number one priority.
I want to challenge you to show grace and love to others. If consider yourself to be in the evangelical movement, I encourage you to present the topic of modesty with consideration, love, and understanding. Keep in mind that not everyone has the opportunity to purchase clothing that you deem to be modest. Show others humility and demonstrate that everyone possesses value, nobody what they are wearing.
With all the love,
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