Sunday, February 1, 2009

The "M" word

I've heard the "M" word since I was little. In Sabbath school, in church, in Pathfinders, in school, from my parents, from other adults, from Christians, and from books. It's that dirty "M" word that most girls roll their eyes at and turn up their noses to. Well, at least we did then. Now I'm beginning to understand.


I was trying to think of some more hip word, but maybe this is the best. Modesty literally means: freedom from vanity and conceit.

Now growing up I knew, for them most part, that being modest meant not showing a lot of skin.

"Girls are to be modest, because that's what the bible says," or so I heard. I realize it may be biblical, but that's like saying, "Well, just do it because I told you so." That's not good enough for me.

I'm beginning to see the modesty issue from another angle.

This afternoon I went for a jog. Probably a little too excited about the sunny, 50 degree weather in the middle of winter, I put on a tank top and running shorts to head outside. It is noticeable to me how much more attention and awkward glances I get from guys depending on what I'm wearing. It is also noticeable to me that girls tend to like me a lot more when it doesn't look as though I'm trying to steal their boyfriend. I've made a lot more girl friends this year, probably because my appearance has become much less a competition. And believe me, it's a competitive, ugly, and vicious game that's not worth playing.

Yesterday I went to church for the first time in, oh months. First thing I noticed, the fashion show. Girls notice it more than anyone. You can talk to any female on this campus and they'll tell you it's true, unfortunately. It makes me sad.

If I walk by in hooker boots, a low cut top, and a mini-skirt, guys might like it, yet feel mad at themselves at the same time. They're trying desperately to hold up their end of a relationship, but half-naked girls walking around don't make that very easy. Guys are visual by nature, that's how they were created and that's ok. But it was never meant to be like this. On the other hand, girls just feel threatened and uncomfortable. I know. I've been that girl.

So I want to be modest to have better relationships with men and women. But also, because I'm realizing more and more that, eating disorders and pornography make up a vicious cycle. What was originally so perfect, the beauty of women and the attraction of men to it, has become warped and painful and destructive. Men like beautiful, women seek to be beautiful, it's just turned into some ugly extremes.

I'm not claiming saint-hood here. Don't misunderstand. I still gravitate towards short shorts and my tank tops could be looser. But there is balance in all things, and that's what I'm seeking.

Just because women can be provocative and sexy, doesn't mean they have to. This is not about the de-feminization of women, this is about responsibility. Men have the same responsibilities because in no way does a scantily clad woman "deserve" rape or "deserve" to be treated like a whore. But is dressing like one really the message I want to send anyway?

There is the argument that women should be able to dress, act, talk, move, how they want and men are the ones who need to control themselves. But I just figure, why not help 'em out? They're fighting their own battles and need all the help they can get.

Modesty is not about ankle length skirts and baggy t-shirts.
Modesty is not about never wearing make-up or looking nice.
Modesty is not about refusing to shave your armpits, because, well, let's just not even got there, yet.
Modesty is not about fearing what your pastor will think and feeling guilty because God won't love you if you don't.

Modesty is about thinking on a global level and considering how I can help.
Modesty is considering my effect on others, not only before I get dressed in the morning.
Modesty is about rejecting what the culture defines as "sexy" and redefining it for myself.

The "M" word isn't so bad.


Anonymous said...


Carley Brown said...


timi said...

Isn't it neat how we can affect our world for good in small ways... good job, Heather.