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Have you given modesty much thought?
There’s a movement among some circles to encourage women to dress in a way that’s a little more covered up, with the intention of leaving more to the imagination. In fact, “modest fashion” is big business!
There is also a backlash toward modest dressing, stemming from the idea that it’s not up to women to encourage or discourage men from falling into temptation.
But, guess what? Modesty is so much more than a way to dress, or a set of rules to follow! Modesty starts in the heart and its fruits spill over into the way we dress, as well as other areas of our life.
Modesty entails a measure of humility and gentleness, as well as putting God and others first. Modesty of the heart means that I’m not trying to be the center of attention, but rather directing attention toward the Lord whenever possible. It makes Christianity an appealing way of living to people we meet throughout our life, in a natural and intuitive way.
But let’s take a moment to think about how we dress and why? For example, when I get dressed each morning, I generally consider the following factors before I choose my clothes for the day:
- What’s the weather like?
- What am I doing that day?
- Who will I be spending time with?
Dressing appropriately for the weather and for my daily activities is fairly self-explanatory. But why it is important to take into consideration who we’ll be spending time with?
Friends, before we move on, it is really important that we all understand what I’m about to explain. And by “understand,” I explicitly mean “not misunderstand!”
There is quite a bit a confusion surrounding the folly of blaming the victim of sexual harassment or a sexual assault by insinuating that she deserved it because she was dressed in a way that called too much attention to herself. To be clear, this is never ok. A victim of such a heinous crime deserves compassion and justice, regardless of what she happened to be wearing at the time of the attack. It is 0% her fault, and 100% the fault of the attacker who chose to make a horrible decision.
Ok, now we can move forward…!
What is crucial to be aware of is that clothing is powerful. Have you ever put on a dress that fits to a “T,” and seems to immediately transform you into a princess? You slip into beautiful heels and you just feel lovely. You stand a little taller. You carry yourself differently somehow. You feel like you’re on the top of the world, like you can knock your presentation out of the park in the boardroom, or that you’re the talk of the town (in a good way!) at a wedding! You may have bought this dress on clearance for $5, but money has nothing to do with it! You know what I mean!
On the flip side, you may have also worn clothing that really doesn’t do anything special for your figure. It might be extra baggy or stained. It definitely doesn’t add to your femininity. You feel self-conscious all day. You don’t feel confident. You aren’t motivated to meet new people or try new things. Been there?!
Right or wrong, clothes can help mold the moods of the people wearing them. The style and cut of the clothes we choose to wear may also solicit certain behavior, responses and reactions from people looking in from the outside. These reactions can be interpreted negatively or positively.
First impressions leave lasting impressions!
This doesn’t mean you need to be dressed to the nines every time to run to the grocery store, but it does mean that the more consistently you dress, and the more thought you put into your wardrobe in general, the higher the chances of you being able to make a positive first impression to each soul you encounter throughout your day!
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself as you identify what kind of image you want to portray:
(These questions don’t necessarily have right or wrong answers, but rather they’re designed more to get you thinking about the clothes you have in your closet. You may not have ever (honestly) considered some of these questions before!)
- Is it important to you to exemplify femininity in the way you dress and style your hair?
- Is your view of femininity geared more toward highlighting your figure and physical assets, or is it portraying the fact that you are a woman, wife and mother?
- What’s the first thing you wish people would think when they see you walking by? (Other than you wish people wouldn’t form opinions of others before getting to know them!) We cannot control other people’s thoughts, but we can help direct their opinions toward our target first impression. We do this not only by what we are wearing, but also by how we carry ourselves. Be especially honest with yourself on this question!
- Do you want attention from people you don’t know? If so, what kind of attention would make you feel good about yourself?
- Do you struggle with your personal convictions regarding modesty and femininity in relation to generally-accepted standards from your peer group? Why or why not?
- Do you take into consideration your husband’s preferences on the way you dress, the kind of makeup you use, and the way you style your hair? Why or why not?
- Can you do your regular daily activities in the clothes you normally wear?
- Do you often feel out of place at church, the playground, the office, the grocery store, or on dates related to how you are dressed?
- Do you wish you could act differently (more confidently, less dominantly, more feminine, more patiently, etc.) but you feel the clothes you’re wearing are holding you back, or dictating how you should be speaking and behaving?
- What are your concerns toward changing items in your wardrobe, if you were to be convicted to dress more modestly or femininely? Do you worry about the potential financial burden? What about what your fellow playgroup moms will say? How about what your own husband will think?
I sincerely hope these questions made you take stock of the message you’re sending when you get dressed each morning! They are meant to be thought-provoking and self-examining, not contentious or judgmental.
Dressing modestly means dressing in a way that conveys selflessness by choosing clothing that works for the general good, and not only for your own preferences. It means being humble enough to realize that there may be venues and circumstances that call for covering up a bit more, or not accentuating certain areas of our bodies, even if we know we could totally rock that look!
Modesty of the heart isn’t for women with low self esteem or poor body image! It actually takes more courage and strength to dress and carry yourself in a more demure manner!
Dressing modestly is not a set of legalistic rules, stating you have to wear dresses that cover your knees (though you may choose to) or you have to wear a cami up to your neck under any blouse (but go for it if that’s your groove). It’s more of common sense guidelines that jive with your own (and your husband’s!) personal convictions for how the lady of the house will be viewed!
Another very powerful point to consider is dressing and carrying yourself modestly is a personal conviction, and we all have different paths and draw different conclusions. It is not my place to judge another woman (whether or not she is a believer) in any way, shape or fashion, based on how she’s dressed! It is my duty to take care of myself (let’s face it, that’s a big enough job!) and honor and respect the convictions my husband and I have agreed on, but not to impose my views on others! We don’t know what any other woman’s journey toward modesty of the heart has been like. We are all at different points on this journey!
One last point before I wrap this post up. Dressing modestly doesn’t mean wearing shapeless potato sacks! In fact, doing that would probably draw more attention to yourself, which would be completely counterproductive to the goal! Clothes that speak modesty of the heart are flattering and appropriate for the occasion!
It is my genuine prayer that this post has touched your heart and has stretched you to consider a different way of both dressing and carrying yourself, with the goal of pointing others toward God!
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3
Gracia y paz,
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