Ladylikeness 12: itsy bitsy teeny weenie lie


Isn't modesty just for women with a poor body image?  

At last, I could wear what I wanted. And I wanted mini-skirts.

Having been raised by a father who, if he could, would have covered me in burlap during my entire teen years, I was finally on my own and free to dress as I pleased. 

I now refer to this time in my early 20s as the "ill-advised mini-skirt phase."

For one thing, I don't have the legs for mini-skirts. What was I thinking? Secondly, because I'm 5'9" in my bare feet, everything on the rack shrinks when I put it on. It was like the Jolly Green Giant rummaging the closets of Keebler Elves. 

Ill. Advised. 

One day, Dad took me to lunch and, before dropping me back off at work, left me with a Fatherly-esk thought about my new style. 

"You're a good girl, but men are going to see you dressed like that and think differently. I'm so proud of the woman you've grown up to be. I don't want anyone thinking you're anything less than what you are." 

Then he offered to buy me some new clothes if I'd let him burn all my mini's. I laughed and tried to block out his comment. But it stayed with me. 

It stayed with me when co-workers made inapproprate comments. It stayed with me when men behaved crudely around me. It stayed with me when I was getting all kinds of attention, all the wrong kinds. 

A couple of weeks later, those skirts were history. 

Years ago, there was a viral Facebook post that really stuck with me by a mid-30s, happily married mom. Although naturally beautiful, she'd struggled to accept her post-childbirth body of stretch marks and stretched abs. Her husband thought she was stunning and tried to make her see her beauty, she said, but she struggled with her imperfections. 

Until the day she wore a bikini to the beach. With the beach photo posted online, she could finally feel confident.

Women applauded her bravery. Men ogled and made comments. She stood before the world as exposed as she could comfortably make herself and declared herself - at last - at peace.

I wonder if her “peace” lasted any longer than my “freedom.”

These days, society says brave women, confident women take it all off for public consumption. Beauty is only beautiful when it's sexy, they say. In the song "Try" by Colbie Caillat, she addresses this issue of needing acceptance through sex appeal:

"Get your sexy on
Don't be shy, girl.
Take it off.
This is what you want, to belong
So they like you, do you like you?"

Women who love their bodies show their bodies, right? That's what all the female celebrities tell us, while they undress to sell everything from a product to a political opinion. If you don't take it off like them and expose as much as possible, then you're ashamed of yourself. And inhibited. And repressed. And ugly. 

So, get your sexy on. Don't be shy, girl. 

With all this societal pressure to flaunt our bodies with as much exposed skin as possible, what does a lady do?

She rebukes this lie. Let me repeat that. She rebukes this LIE. It is a lie. One of the most destructive, most damaging, most eroding lies women believe today. 

A woman who exposes herself isn't confident. She's the opposite. Women seeking attention and acceptance through indecency or sex appeal are seeking it in the exact place it'll never be found. A woman exposed isn't set free, she's vulnerable. She's weakened. She's hardened. She's devalued. 

Modesty is what sets us free. It gives us dignity. Dressing for beauty, not sex appeal, is what allows our loveliness to actually be seen. It reveals our confidence, poise, and elegance - all exquisite features. 

One of the most timeless and breathtaking attributes of a lady's beauty is her self-respect. It's why she isn't shy about keeping it all on. 

How To Put This Truth Into Action

Every summer, when social activities become centered around swimwear and swimwear is designed to cut high, drop low, or use as little fabric as possible, I rewatch the below video by Jessica Rey, a swimwear designer, actress, and modesty advocate, as a reminder.

In it, she talks about what disrespect a woman exposes herself to when dressed in revealing clothing and how modesty protects a woman's dignity and value. She also addresses what happens in the male brain when women choose to dress immodestly. (Hint: no self-respecting woman wants this.) On top of all that, she also sells gorgeous, timeless swimwear for all body shapes. 

The video is ten-minutes and so good my description won't give it justice. 

I share this because, when the pressure is on to take it off - and in the summer that pressure is exponentially heightened - we need to understand the full implications of what we're doing. 

Every woman wants to feel beautiful. That's natural, healthy, needed, and God-designed. He calls us to be the image bearers of His beauty. It's our special calling, a loving gift and place of honor given to a beloved daughter from her doting Father. 

But we can't display our beauty without dignity and we can't have dignity without modesty. When we protect our honor, however, then the celebration of our unique loveliness and femininity will absolutely turn heads. 

All without wearing a single mini-skirt. 

I'll leave you with this powerful quote from Jessica Rey that I absolutely love:

"We need to teach girls that modesty isn't about covering up their bodies because they're bad. Modesty isn't about hiding ourselves. It's about revealing our dignity. We were made beautiful in His image and likeness. So the question I'd like to leave you with is, 'How will you use your beauty?'"