Listen up my dear young sisters, this one is for you.
I remember when my parents finally allowed me to buy a bikini.
I remember when I started caring about other girls’ bodies and “keeping up” with them.
I remember when I got my first real bra.
I remember when I got called “hot” for the first time.
I remember when the girls’ that I hung around started wearing low cut shirts and shorter shorts.
I remember when I realized that my body mattered to other people. When boys started noticing the curves (or lack thereof) of the girls’ chests and hips. That fateful day came when we were no longer judged by anything other than by our looks.
There comes a point in every little girls’ life when from that point on, she chooses bras over Barbies, she chooses learning how to wear makeup over learning new games to play in the backyard. She notices that the boys pay more attention to the girl with the bigger cup size, and so she follows her lead. She starts wanting push-up bras. She starts wanting more makeup, cute bikinis, tighter jeans, and shorter shorts.
As my friends and I started stumbling through puberty, I began to notice that their parents were allowing them to wear more provocative clothing (I mean, as provocative as a 12 year olds’ clothes can be) than my parents would allow me. And it made me mad.
All the boys like them better.
All the boys paid more attention to them.
My friends all had clothes from Hollister, Aeropostale, and Abercrombie & Fitch (a store that for a long time, I believed included a swear word), while I had clothes from Belk and JC Penney. There was one specific night I went into Hollister for the first time with a group of girls, and I was shocked at the size of the shorts.
I distinctly remembered thinking to myself, “who fits in these jeans??” and even better, “if they actually do fit in them, how does this small stretch of denim keep everything in??”
There were many discussions-more like borderline arguments- over why I wasn’t allowed to dress like the rest of my friends. I was taught that tight clothes and low-cut shirts distracted the boys, and as their Christian sisters, we needed to do everything we could not to interfere with their Christian walk. The phrase “stumbling block” was mentioned numerous times.
Do not be a stumbling block for the minds and hearts of the boys around you.
Let me provide a little disclaimer here: I am ardently against the idea that a man’s inability to control himself, his thoughts, or actions, is the woman’s responsibility to fix. The blame for any type of sexual harassment, rape, unwelcome sexual advances, or any other type of undesirable attention or flirting is not to be placed on the woman.
Men are responsible for their actions.
“Boys will be boys” is not applicable anymore.
It makes absolutely no sense for a man with a fully functioning brain and with the ability to reason logically to place the blame for his sexual urges on a woman.
This post is an encouragement for dressing modestly. However, I could walk down the street dressed in any way I wanted, and I would still not be deserving of the blame of a man’s actions or urges.
*takes a deep breath*
*steps off soapbox*
Anyways, while my parents’ conservative views frustrated me as a pre-teen staggering into womanhood, I am now beginning to see the impact that their guidelines had on the value I see in myself and my body.
Now, as an almost-kind of-semi-adult, with my clothing choices free from the control of my parents (mostly), I am still uncomfortable with overly-revealing tops, tight pants, or short shorts.
When my mom would not allow me to wear that low cut, tight, V-neck t-shirt from Abercrombie, she was really saying, “There are more important traits about you than your looks and your body”
When my dad always pointed out when my shorts were a little shorter than necessary, he was really telling me, “Boys should not be attracted to you because of how much skin is exposed, but because of how much of your heart is revealed.”
When I was forced to wear a cami or cardigan in order to cover up more skin, I was really being told, “You should do everything you can to display your Godly character to those around you, not your skin.”
To me, dressing modestly is no longer a set of rules that I follow to keep a guy from thinking impure thoughts or becoming distracted. Dressing modestly is a decision I make because I see value in my body.
Girls, I want you to see yourself as something treasured and as someone who deserves respect- from yourself, and from those around you. I want you to be uncomfortable to reveal an excessive amount of your body because you recognize Who it belongs to. I want you to know that you are created in a unique and beautiful way, and you and your body are deserving of love and respect. I want you to know that your intelligence, compassionate heart, kind soul, and love for God are much greater attributes to show off than your looks or your body. You are worth more than a boys’ opinion of your body.
I dress modestly because I am a girl who has much more to offer to this world than my body. I make this choice not because I feel like I have something to be ashamed of, but because I know I am deserving of respect from everyone around me.
“Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20