I’ve been struggling lately trying to get back into blogging. It’s not that I don’t think about things all the time….that’s never been my problem. I guess I’m struggling now with whether or not it’s worth saying and if being a godly Christian woman means that I should be more quiet.
Now many women may cringe at that statement, but when you’re immersed in an old Southern culture that values ‘charm’ and being ‘nice’, you realize that a lot of women around you don’t say a lot at all. And again, I know that women think and reason and have thoughts and opinions about things. BUT, the majority of conversations I hear about where to buy cute children’s outfits, new boutiques, great restaurants to try out, family excursions, vacations, children’s antics, and so on. And to be honest, those are the topics that I would have never ever thought about discussing at length on a continuous basis with other people. But, here in the South, that seems to be my new normal.
So what’s this lady to do?
Assimilate to this new culture? Become counter-cultural or a dreaded ‘nonconformist’? Try to continue ‘being myself’ when I’m always the odd-ball? Stay at home? Or maybe I could try my husband’s advice and write about whatever pops into my mind here on my blog.
I think I’ll give his advice a whirl.
So, I’ll tell you what’s been on my mind for a few months now, especially with all of this hot weather that we have: MODESTY!
And no, this isn’t meant to be your traditional modesty exhortation blog and reminder. My thoughts on modesty are a little different than just saying: PUT SOME CLOTHES ON YOUR BODY! I’ve realized that there is an unstated double…maybe triple, maybe more…standard when it comes to modesty.
First, for some reason people have no problem telling a larger woman that she should be more modest and put more clothes on. Maybe it’s the cellulite around her thighs or seeing her legs rub together when she walks, but people in general don’t want to see that. Completely disregard the campaigns for bigger women to dress in a sexy, ‘I wear whatever I want to wear’ way, because in the church, you need to put some clothes. Why? Cause ain’t nobody trying to see all of that!
Second, I observe that people don’t have any problem telling an attractive, smaller woman that she needs to be modest either. I gather that the main reason is because she is actually attractive, and a lot of guys wouldn’t mind seeing that! So in an effort to tame their wild, uncontrollable lust and passions, she should make herself ‘less attractive’ by finding more ‘homely’ looking clothes that accentuate nothing on her body….they may or may not need to fit….so that she can be ‘godly’ and ‘modest’. Because I know I don’t fall in this group, I’m guessing this is an application of Romans 15:1 ‘bearing with the infirmities of the weak’.
Third, I observe that no one seems to mention modesty much to less attractive women who are fit, or physically smaller. I thought about it a while, but you really don’t see these type of women being encouraged to put on more clothes. I figure, maybe the thought is that regardless of what they’re wearing, they’re still unattractive. So why say anything? No one is being distracted or tempted, are they? Now, I’m sure that sounds mean, but I’m really going by observations here. For some reason, it’s more okay for an unattractive, smaller woman to wear something less modest than it is for an attractive, smaller woman or a larger woman (regardless of whether or not she’s attractive).
Fourth, I observe that no one really directs modesty conversations to men. No one corrects a man for wearing skinny jeans that are way too skinny. No one offers encouragement or assistance to a man who may be ‘outgrowing’ his clothes and things are getting a little tight. We don’t talk about those muscle shirts when we’re at church, but growing up, I remember ladies thanking the Lawd for “ALL HIS GOODNESS!” Shameful…smh.
Fifth, we don’t talk about modesty at home. Is it okay for us to wear our booty shorts or too small clothes at home around our kids, possibly in sight of our neighbors? Is it okay if a boob pops out when we’re with the kids and not breastfeeding? Maybe we don’t believe that modesty applies at home…that it is only necessary at church, and sometimes when we’re out. But I do wonder if people think about the unstated messages sent to their children (and possibly neighbors depending on where you live).
Finally, the last thing I think that is never mentioned is modesty and money. Now, yes, I’ve heard about not having “costly apparel” and not adorning ourselves with “gold, pearls, and braided hair”. But I’m talking about people who, by reason of their financial state, cannot afford more modest clothing while their bodies are changing. Having worked on a college campus for years, I think about students who gain a good 20 lbs. or so and find out that everything they now own is too tight and revealing, and they are still trying to be faithful in church attendance. Or, since we’ve been here, the young married couple who is literally poor and trying to make ends meet. Besides, a pregnancy can dramatically change her body (his too) and really limit what they can wear that is modest.
When we see these cases, do we actually do something though? I mean, it’s obviously easy to talk about people or just make mental notes about people and ‘wonder’ about their choices. But if modesty is a huge concern in churches today, do we act on it? Will we truly help those who don’t have the clothes to cover their bodies? I think of James 2:14-17 and the challenge it presents to all of us:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
And I can quickly add, how willing are we to have the uncomfortable conversations with our brothers and sisters in the Lord? Would it be too weird to ask someone about their views on the topic? Would you be too nervous to tell someone that something they were wearing was pretty immodest and distracting? Or does addressing this have to turn into a “tell the elder or his wife” thing, and other people have to be brought in because you were too uncomfortable to say something yourself, likely causing even more embarrassment for the person who may or may not know how their clothing really looks on them? Or are we too scared to be even minutely offensive or be taken the wrong way to say something?…..just some extra thoughts while I’m on it.
Now, this wraps up my rambling thoughts this summer about modesty. If you’re wondering how and why I was thinking about it so much, you should totally thank my husband. I honestly don’t know of any man (outside of our RLCF church family) who thinks about modesty more. What I appreciate most is that my husband refuses to have a double standard…..trying to make sure I am super modest at all times, while he can wear whatever he feels like. I mean, my husband has gone to church in 90 degree weather with a long sleeve dress shirt, undershirt, and pants on because he believes in modesty.
But when we discuss the topic, we are aware of some of the difficulties that people don’t like to bring up. For instance, finding clothes for our daughter that are modest is downright difficult. It seems like all that people want to see little girls in are teeny weeny shorts, just fitting tops, leggings, or super skinny jeans. For myself, the fashion these days are jersey knit dresses that reach your mid-thigh (maybe your knees if you’re lucky) or the super long maxi dresses that you’re obliged to wear with a cardigan or some type of cover-up because it may or may not have thick enough straps. Plus, by actually having a pretty curve body shape, I’ve found that most dresses still accentuate everything. So for me, pants and a top are actually more modest than most skirts and dresses (although my husband is quick to tell me that I really can’t disguise my body shape). But he is the one who pointed out the lack of conversation about the need for modesty among men.
So that’s where I get this stuff from (aside from random conversations with other people who don’t mind talking about modesty and their own experiences), and my hope is that this is the first of many blogs for me as I get back into the swing of things. Blessings!