For as long as I can remember, I've always dressed modestly. Skirts, dresses, shirts that weren't so tight or cut so low that they exposed my body. I've always wanted to dress in a way that draws attention to my countenance, my behavior, and my heart instead of what I look like. What I look like can change either for better or for worse in an instant, which means that if that is why others love me, their love will also change in an instant, and so I want the people around me to love me for who I am inside. I've also wanted to dress this way out of love for the men around me. They struggle SO much day in and day out because of the fashions around them. Many styles of pants that are low cut and so tight they accentuate every part of a woman’s body; Shirts that are so tight, so sheer, and cut so low that they bring all attention to a woman’s body parts that are desirable to men. These clothes are made so that there is just enough not shown that men are left to fantasize and lust. But there are so many men who try SO hard not to do this, and try to fight this temptation, but they have no help from the women around them! :( By dressing in a way that is attractive and womanly, but which protects and respects my body, I have the opportunity to help the men in my life to grow closer to God and grow in purity because they don’t have to fight temptation or involuntary feelings and urges when in my presence.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just been walking through the grocery story, or around college campus, or anywhere else and when I turn around and catch someone’s eye I give them a smile, but find them to be looking me up and down with a very negative expression. Or how many times I’ve been asked by friends, co-workers, fellow students, and strangers “Why don’t you wear pants? Why do you wear skirts?” (some of them friendly and curiously, but many extremely disdainfully and even disgusted). I always answer by telling them it’s because I personally feel more modest, more comfortable, and want to draw attention to my countenance and personality rather than my body. Or how many times I’ve been teased for being the girl who’s “not like that”, or who is “too innocent” to hear or talk about the things that those around me are talking about (for being the goodie-goodie). Or how many times I’ve been sitting somewhere and behind me heard a laugh and the words, “She’s wearing a DRESS???”. Or how many times I’ve been stared at and told over and over “You have an odd / weird style … good, but weird”, or “You’d fit in really well in the 60's” while they stare at and analyze me for 10, 20, sometimes more than 30 minutes during a class lecture. Or been asked “What’s your problem? You’re making it clear you hate us” when all I would being doing is sitting doing homework and minding my own business.
I always wondered what it could be that prompted these actions and questions from these people. I wondered … had I don’t something to instigate it? Had I said something? Done something derogatory? Or acted conceited, proud, or judgmental? For example, the question of “Why do you wear skirts? Why don’t you wear pants?” that I’ve been asked SO many times. Why was it that people felt they had to ask this? For myself and other women who wear skirts and dresses, the question “Why do you wear pants? Why don’t you wear skirts?” never comes to mind. There was just something that seemed to make them uncomfortable and caused that need to ask this question. As time passed and these things happened over and over again, I realized that it wasn’t anything that I had done or said directly to these people, it was that they felt judged and were reacting to those feelings.
Many, many people in today’s society haven’t gotten a good impression of modesty. In fact, most of them have gotten quite a bad impression of it. They see it as old fashioned, constricting, something that goes along with strict rules and regulations of some religions, and they’ve received a lot of judgment. They’ve received judgment from individuals who are the kind who can be outspoken and sometimes rude, and though fervent and devout in their beliefs / practices, are the type of individuals who are much more quick to condemn and harshly correct those who are different or don’t have the same morals instead of kindly teaching and encouraging them, showing them the good in modesty, and accepting them for who and where they are on their path so that they aren’t threatened and will be more open to considering modesty as a new moral and new change in their life that they may treasure the way we treasure it. These are the actions … this is the judgment that in turn causes society to look at women who honor and value modesty with contempt and disdain.
It’s so sad to know that when society considers modesty, it is a negative response and mindset that they have towards it, and those of us women who value it. But it is even more sad to know that the reason they feel this way is because of the judgment others have brought on them when this judgment isn’t fair in any way. Yes, it is very true that from the way someone dresses and the way they exploit their body, most of the time you can make a very clear guess as to what kind of person they are, what type of life they live, and what type of morals they have. HOWEVER! We still are in no place to make a concrete judgment on these individuals, or condemn them for the way they are or the way they dress until we know them deeper. We have to get to know their life, know what they are personally like, and what they’ve gone through and experienced in life before we can make any judgment on them because there are many times that what you’re going to see on the outside is not at all what’s on the inside.
Modesty is very different for everyone depending on how we’ve grown up, what we’ve experienced, where we are in life, and what we’ve been taught. For me, modesty means wearing skirts and dresses that aren’t shorter than my knees, shirts that are cute and fit well, but that aren’t tight enough or cut low enough that they show off my body that is to be saved for my future husband. For a woman in the Middle East, modesty may mean being completely veiled, showing nothing but her face or eyes. But for a girl or woman who has always worn short shorts, and shirts that are so low and tight that there’s very little you can’t see, for them modesty may mean wearing shirts that are still very form fitting but don’t show excessive skin, or form fitting jeans that cover their legs instead of shorts that greatly expose them, because that for them (even though there’s still great temptation in tight clothing that shows every curve) is still a really big step and accomplishment from where they had been. I remember reading an article in which a woman showed up to church with her child in a very short, tight fitting skirt and a tight, low cut top. She received very harsh judgment from several of the women there who wouldn’t even speak to her. But what they didn’t understand was where she was in life. Even though she wanted to be able to go out and buy clothes that would be more modest, she had no money. So she put on the best clothes she had because she wanted to dress up for church, and from the way she had grown up, the things she’d seen, and the way she used to dress, this WAS an improvement for her that she had worked to achieve.
For people like this woman, we have to remember that until we know them we cannot make harsh judgments on them because they may be in the learning process and the judgments that they may receive will only hold them back and discourage them. We also must remember that for someone still learning, modesty isn’t as easy as it seems for some of us. Practicing modesty takes GREAT courage. Just think …. All the questions, negative and derogatory comments, looks, and teasing that we women who practice modesty have to go through. For us, this is a part of life that we’ve gotten accustomed to dealing with, but just the same it’s still extremely hurtful, confusing, and discouraging for us. Now, can you imagine someone who has grown up all their life dressing the way the rest of society does, suddenly making such a drastic change?? Can you imagine being in their shoes and knowing that when you make that change you will be asked by EVERYONE “Why did you do that? Why do you dress so differently now?”, and having to be subject to the looks, comments, teasing, disdain, and knowing that every day you step out of your house you have to face a world where you’re completely different and the courage that takes?? There are probably SO many more women than we would think that would like to make modesty a great value and practice in their life, but they’re just trying to muster up enough courage to make such a change. So we need to be here for them. We need to be here, not as a source of judgment or condemnation, but to be their encouragement, their example, and their positivity so that they will know someone has their back when they take that big step and make that change.