Living in a house with six girls (seven including my patient and saintly mother) means we talk about clothes. We buy clothes, we share clothes, we may even fight about clothes. I know without a doubt that if I’m wearing something that is hideous or makes me look homeless, my sisters will tell me. Emphatically. And perhaps with a look of disgust. But I’ve learned to appreciate the honesty.
I can also count on my sisters to let me know if what I’m wearing is a bit… sketchy. A bit low cut. A bit short. A bit too tight. They are my very own fashion police and have no qualms with reminding me about being modest. Because we are good, decent Christian girls after all.
Modesty. I kind of hate that word. Modest. Being modest. Dressing modestly. I hate it because it’s a bit overused and a lot ambiguous. Ask anyone to describe what it means to be modest, and no one will describe it the same way twice. Not even my sisters and I can agree, and we grew up in the same household, with the same rules, and the same religion. The idea of modesty is shoved at young girls in churches these days, but no one can really explain what it means.
And maybe we think we don’t even need to worry about modesty anymore. We live in a progressive, post-feminist, post-modern world where Magic Mike and Fifty Shades of Grey are setting the tone for sexuality in society. Honestly, when they are making movies about male strippers, why do people even care what I’m wearing?
It’s hard to impose rules or how-to’s on being modest. I could probably annoy the conservative Christians by being too lenient or the strong-willed feminists by being too limiting. Navigating through that is frustrating for ladies everywhere. As we transition from girls under our parents rules into young women making our own rules, how do we define modesty for ourselves? How do we dress to glorify God while still dressing with individuality?
So! Here are a few tips I’ve come up with that may make all this frustration a bit easier and less daunting. Take or leave them at your discretion.
1. Don’t ever wear something that makes you uncomfortable. There are a lot of fashion trends out there that seem really cute, until you pull the dress/shirt/skirt of the hanger, put it on, and look at the mirror. Yeah, it’s nice, but you just don’t feel right in it. You pull it up or pull it down, look at yourself from all angles, but just can’t seem to like it. You show your friends, and of course they love it. “You look hot!” “Guys won’t be able to resist you!” “You HAVE to buy that!” So you do. But whenever you wear it, you just don’t feel like yourself. You should never feel uncomfortable in the things you wear. Besides the fact that everyone has a different idea of what looks good on a person, no two girls have the same body. What fits your friend perfectly might not fit you perfectly. So if you don’t like yourself it, don’t buy it.
2. Don’t think you have to dress less conservatively to appear more attractive. Girls like to look good. We like to take our time and dress ourselves up. Sometimes we like to wear something a little suggestive or seductive with the hope of catching the elusive Mr. Maybe. We cover less skin, wear more make up, and flaunt what we have. Perhaps we compromise our notion of modesty, because we imagine ourselves not attractive enough for the opposite sex. But a nice guy, the right guy for you, the sort of guy you want to attract won’t think you have to cover less to be sexy. You don’t have to cover up head to toe, but you don’t need to show off everything you have. Besides, if you have to prance around scantily clad to get a guy’s attention, he probably isn’t only looking at you.
3. Don’t think how you dress makes you more or less of a woman. Some women believe that a true independent, feminist, strong woman will wear whatever she chooses regardless of the dictates of society, religion, or other people’s opinions. No one can tell her what’s too weird, too modest, too flamboyant. But at the same time, if I choose to cover up more than the models in the magazines or the celebrities in Hollywood, that doesn’t make me less feminine or attractive. That’s my choice. What you wear isn’t what makes you a woman. It’s the way you act, how you talk, what you believe, what you love. That’s what makes you the lovely, beautiful woman God created. Your clothes don’t determine who you are.
This looks mostly like a list of things you shouldn’t do. So to end on a positive note…
Wear clothes that you like, that you feel happy and confident in. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good, to look your best. Dress for yourself, not to impress your friends or a guy. Dress the way you would want your daughters to dress around guys, or the way you would want women to dress around your guy. Remember that what you wear isn’t who you are. It’s only a means of expressing the woman you are on the inside, in your heart and soul. Recognize that your body is God’s temple, so it should be treated with respect, but doesn’t have to be shrouded in mystery. Though maybe a bit of mystery is good (I hear that may keep a guy interested).
And finally, remember that God loves you. Period. What you wear won’t affect that. But you are a representative of Christ, and what you wear does affect how people see Him.
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