My friend Shannon sent me this picture last week for a freewrite. I tried to think of something clever to say about it but all I could think was: which one am I? Am I prudish? Asking for it? Am I, at all, modest?
I think the answer, in short, is no. Despite growing up in Christian schools that did not allow sleeveless or short skirts, I somehow escaped the guilt that fell on many of my peer’s shoulders–that our bodies should be covered lest we be raped. Luckily my parents had sense and did not make bodies into a big deal. Even though I was overweight for most of my childhood, I did not feel ugly or any need to cover up in the locker room. This is not to say I didn’t deal with my fair share of body issues (oh honey did I), but modesty was never one of them.
To be clear, I’ve never dressed especially provocative or immodest–I just don’t think about things like, “Should I wear a bra with this?” Because bras are uncomfortable and I hate bras and who cares. Short skirts are just showing off. Do you want to be a show off? That’s what I think when I see a super short skirt. If I ever have the responsibility of having a daughter, you bet your bottom dollar that she’ll be covering her bottom dollar. Not because I think it’s necessarily wrong, but because I think it’s silly. And not silly ha-ha, but silly DO YOU WANT TO GET PREGNANT? (Maybe I should stick to sons).
And perhaps I have an uneducated idea of what modest really means. When I think of modest, I think high collars and long skirts, Amish folks and school marms. I think of my third grade librarian and her tightly wound bun. Even in the third grade, I pitied her. Had she ever been on a date? Worn high heels? Thrown on a little lipstick and went out on the town? For me, it’s not as much about being modest as it is about being classy. Classy is sexy. Classy is what men (and women) want. Classy is what will get you a job interview and health benefits. Let’s keep it classy, teenage youths! Put away your fishnet stockings. You don’t want to be that girl.
One last thing. To be clear, I don’t think my Amish neighbors wearing coverings and cape dresse are repressed unless they feel repressed (because that’s how repression works). Own it if you love it. That is my take on modesty.
What about you? Are you matronly or provocative? Are you modest?