Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mourning Modesty

One interesting aspect of American culture is the idea most Americans have about how much skin it is acceptable for women to show in public, compared to other countries. In India, women are expected to cover their legs and wear a scarf that will cover up their bosom. Although some belly is allowed when women wear a sari, the voluminous skirt and wrapped upper scarf create a general effect of modesty and femininity.

Since our return to this country I have noticed that American women are now not only showing a lot of leg and belly, but also displaying large amounts of cleavage. What used to be acceptable clothing only in strip bars, fashion shows, and nightclubs is now every-day-wear across the country in malls, dentist offices, and even churches. Shorts are shorter than ever and shirts are tighter, with deep v-necks being the order of the day. As many of us know, most American women are overweight (I include myself in this--I need to drop about 25 pounds.) Yet even extremely overweight individuals are wearing tight, revealing clothing. Have all of the floor-length mirrors in the nation suddenly shattered? What ever happened to looking in a mirror before leaving home, and if anything was hanging out, exposed, too tight, or too see-through, CHANGING?! I really don't want to see that much of other people's bodies, and I don't think it's good for the men of the world to have all of that cleavage around, either. As for swimsuits...don't get me started!

I really am disturbed by the trend over the last five years or so of women showing more and more of their bodies. It used to be that undergarments were hidden--it was a big deal if a girl's bra strap was showing, for example. Now, bras and underpants both can hang out of clothing and nobody is supposed to even notice. This trend has spread into churches, where women show up in short, short skirts and deep-cut blouses and then wonder why some guys stare at them.

In 1 Tim. 2:9-10 Paul wrote, "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

1 Peter 3:3 says "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes."

Apparently in those days women were drawing attention to themselves through their adornments rather than by exposing themselves, nevertheless immodesty was a problem even that long ago. It is a huge problem today. I have taught my daughters that modesty is not just about clothing but about our general attitude and behavior. It is possible to be dressed modestly and yet behave immodestly. So we must ask ourselves the question: Do we behave modestly or are we constantly drawing attention to ourselves? Does the way we dress make us a spectacle, or just reflect a humble, modest attitude?

When I went shopping a few days ago it was hard to find anything that was modest and yet remotely "stylish." For me this isn't that big of a problem since I don't really care that much about fashion; I prefer to wear things that are comfortable but look decent (or at least "semi-decent" as Eric will attest to.) But for my 13-year-old this is a MAJOR problem. I don't want her to have a "hoochie-mama" look, but I also don't want to make her dress as though she's forty. Thank God, she already prefers longer skirts to jeans or shorts, and she tries to dress modestly. Tomorrow we are going shopping for clothing for her, and I am sincerely praying that we can find some clothing that will not look old and fuddy-duddy, yet will still be modest.

I mourn the general loss of modesty in our nation. I pray that Christian ladies everywhere will promote modesty of dress, attitude, and behavior, following God's Word in Titus 2:

3Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,

4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,

5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.


Maël said...


You said: “I have taught my daughters that modesty is not just about clothing but about our general attitude and behavior.”

I find it very true. As a matter of fact, the same Greek term is translated sober-minded in Tit 1:8, then translated temperate in Tit 2:2 and then modest in Tit 2:5. It is all about our general attitudes and behavior.

Isabel said...

Hear, hear!!

It's hard not to notice this trend. I also hate the writing across the seat of pants! Our neighbors back in Texas let their little 5-yr-old wear those, and she also rolled the top of her pants/shorts down a few times as was the fashion then, exposing body parts that only overweight construction workers used to show.

Alice C. said...

Mael: Right you are! And you are blessed with a modest wife, aren't you? We miss y'all!

Isabel: Check out the Ads Absurdum at Sacred Sandwich to see someone's idea for "Emerjeans" which would be jeans with "Christian" writing across the seat--since we know where the boys are looking anyway. It's hilarious, but a little too close to the truth in our church these days. We have a rule that our daughters never wear anything with words across their rear end. In fact, I prefer that their shirts be long enough to cover their rears. Just call me old-fashioned.

selahV said...

AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! Not long ago I wrote a protest post about a Dove Advertisement that was placed in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and sent to my address with completely NUDE older women. It was their funny little campaign idea to get our attention to purchase their new line of age-defying regeneration products. I was outraged!

Following my post and mailing of it to the editor of BH&G magazine, I was inundated with hits from BH&G's website. I'm suspecting they wanted to see what kind of traffic comments my blog generated. Since then, I've not found one ad in the BH&G with Dove products. And the ad campaign has disappeared into obscurity. Praise the Lord!

And I Sooo agree with you on this post, dear Alice. I'm weary of those deeply cut, napkins that women wear in public and to church. Someone recently wrote about culture isn't a sin. I say sin is creating our culture and soon we will be overrun with sin-culture driven ideology of our own apathetic making. Thanks for your post. selahV

Elder's Wife said...

Really relevant post. It is difficult to find modest, appropriate clothing even for little girls these days. And then there are all the pregnant gals who let it all hang out--literally! What are they thinking?

Alice C. said...

SelahV and Kat: Thanks for your comments. BTW we did find some modest skirts for Mary (age 9) at Wal*Mart. They were made in India and are really cute. We also found
modest swimsuits for Caroline (13): Land's End brand at Sears; and modest athletic shorts for Caroline: Hanes brand at Wal*Mart. Goody's store here in Savannah also has decent stuff for girls. So it is possible to find the stuff but it took us a day and a half of shopping to do it. And I hate shopping, although that's a story for another blog post.